How to keep cut flowers fresh

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Fresh flowers not only brighten a room, they can lift our spirits.
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With a little care, you can enjoy the beauty of fresh cut flowers for many days

Whether we purchase a bouquet for ourselves or are the pleased recipient of a surprise bunch of flowers for whatever reason (of course, the best reason is no reason at all), we want to enjoy their fragrance and beauty for as long as possible. As Luther Burbank, the noted American horticulturist once said, “Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.”

There have been many methods expounded through the years as to the best ways to keep cut flowers fresh for as long as possible.  Following is a general consensus of those methods that have survived the test of time. Keep in mind, however, that different varieties of flowers have different vase life. 

The romantic fresh roses, although not the longest lasting (the orchid is), seems to be the winner in the eyes of so many women. The iris seems to have the shortest life, while mums, carnations and gladiolas fare somewhat better in the longevity battle. Fresh cut flowers should be brought indoors immediately, and always ordered from a florist that provides same day flower delivery. Whatever the types of flowers, your arrangement will benefit greatly by taking just a few simple precautions.

The container, water, temperature and light are the key factors in determining how long you will have the pleasure of your beautiful flowers.

The container, preferably, should be glass since certain plastics and metals can leach into the water and be harmful to the flowers. It should be very clean. Wash the container well with soap and hot water to remove any bacteria. If the vase has any brown or white scum in it, soak it well in hot water with about a teaspoon of bleach before washing.

Fill the clean vase 1/2 to 2/3 full with tepid (slightly warm) water and add the packet of commercial preservative supplied by the florist, swirling the water to dissolve it. If you do not have a commercial preservative, add to the water two to three drops of unscented household bleach and one teaspoon of regular sugar.
To help prevent bacterial build up, take each stem and strip off the leaves that would fall below the water line. Then, holding the stem under the faucet with tepid water running, cut the stem to the desired length at an angle, using a clean sharp scissors or knife. Place each stem in the prepared water immediately after cutting.

Your cut flowers should be placed in a cool location, with indirect sunlight and away from radiators and cooling or heating vents. Bright sunlight, contrary to popular belief, is not good for keeping flowers fresh for a longer period of time.

Change the water daily, adding the preservative or your home made mixture with each change of water. Every time you change the water, cut the stems (at an angle) about ¼ inch.

Follow these very simple steps to get maximum enjoyment from your flowers. In closing, remember this quote from the famous poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world.”



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