Caring for cut flowers

Flower arrangement

Q. How can I extend the life of cut flowers that I receive for Valentine’s Day?

A.Preparing cut flowers properly will prolong the life of your bouquet. Make sure the vase is clean and free of any soap residue. Add a commercial preservative to the vase and immediately fill it with warm water in order to dissolve the granules thoroughly. It is important to add a preservative that is specifically formulated for cut flowers. Home brews have not proven to be effective in preserving floral arrangements.

Gently remove all lower leaves that would otherwise be submerged in water. Use sharp, clean scissors, pruners, or a knife to cut each stem at an angle under warm water. Cutting stems under water reduces the chances of air bubbles forming in the stems, which may interfere with the uptake of water. Take care not to crush the stems because doing so will also interfere with the uptake of water. 

Place the vase of flowers in a cool room away from vents and drafts. Check the water level daily and add additional water if needed. After several days, replace the water, adding new preservative, clean the vase if needed, and re-cut the stems. Regularly remove dying blooms and all other decomposed plant material.

Following these simple steps should allow your floral bouquet to last for a number of days, perhaps even weeks. Winter is the perfect time of year to plan a cutting garden of your own.