There’s nothing quite like a vase full of flowers to brighten up a room with their scent and color. Sadly, cut flowers don’t last forever. If your fresh flowers are wilting quickly, try these cut flower care tips and hacks to enjoy their blooms longer.
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First thing's first, always start with a sparkling-clean vase. When you bring a flower bouquet home, immediately plunge the cut ends into fresh tap water. Letting too much air into the cut stems can prevent water uptake later on.
Once you find a permanent home for your cut flowers, cut the stems using clean scissors or pruners. You can even cut the stems of flowers (especially roses) underwater to be sure air doesn't sneak in. Different types of stems do better with different cuts. Cut thick, green stems at an angle, but separate woody stems with an X-shape cut. Use a funnel to fill hollow stems with water, then plug the end with a cotton ball.
Before starting an arrangement, remove any extra leaves on stems. Leaves contribute to bacteria buildup in the water, shortening the life of your cut flowers.
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Use a cut flower food to keep your blooms looking fresh. Commercial flower preservatives contain chemicals that stop microorganisms from growing and make water—which is usually alkaline—more acidic to match the cells of the flower stems. Flower food also includes sucrose (or sugar) to provide energy. If you don't have a commercial flower food, try adding a sugary soft drink to the water. No matter which preservative you choose, always add it to warm-to-the-touch water so that it can properly dissolve.
Change the water in the vase every day. Use fresh water, or make a fresh solution of water and cut flower food. Make sure the water is lukewarm before adding the flowers back to the vase. Snip a little off the ends of the stems every time you change the water and remove any spent blooms; infection can spread easily from dead petals and wilted leaves.
To get flower buds to open up, try shocking them: Place the stems in hot water for one minute, then transfer them to lukewarm water. This will shorten bloom time.
Keep the bouquet out of direct sunlight or hot locations (like near a heat vent or radiator). Place it in the coolest spot in the house overnight (as long as it is not exposed to freezing temperatures). Avoid putting flowers in an enclosed area with fruits, such as apples, which release ethylene gas that causes flowers to wilt.