Fresh flower arrangements can create a garden inside the home, and bring cheer and color indoors on dreary days. Whether the arrangement is a gift, one you purchased yourself, or cut flowers from your own garden, you want to enjoy their fleeting beauty as long as possible.
Even the best gardeners can have difficulty keeping flowers fresh and blooming indoors. There are a few simple steps you can take to keep your flower arrangements from fading too quickly.
1. When purchasing a floral arrangement or fresh flowers, choose varieties that are long-lasting. With proper care carnations, mini-carnations, alstromeria, daisies, delphiniums, roses, lilies and mums will stay fresh up to twelve days after they are cut.
2. Inspect fresh flowers before you buy them. Check the blooms, leaves, and stems for any brown spots, slime, broken petals, and yellowing or fading that may indicate the flower is already past its prime. Choose flowers that haven’t fully opened yet; most cut flowers (with the exception of some tropical flowers and orchids) will continue to open after they’ve been put into a vase.
3. Keep your vases clean; scrub them with hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly before adding the flowers. Always keep fresh flowers in a vase with fresh, clean water. Change the water at least every few days, and use lukewarm water to fill vases; flowers will absorb it faster.
4. Prepare a solution of commercially prepared flower food, or use the packet that comes with your floral arrangement. This solution benefits the flowers tremendously by adding nutrients to the water, adjusting the pH level of the water in the vase, and discouraging the growth of bacteria. Mix the solution carefully; too much can “burn” the petals.
5. Cut and inch or two off the stems before putting the flowers in water, and remove ½" every few days when you change the water. Be sure your cutting tools are clean.
6. Remove any leaves that will be under the surface of the water. The leaves may rot under water and harbor bacteria that will reduce the life span of the blooms.
7. Keep fresh flowers cool until you can get them into water. Display your fresh flowers away from heat sources like radiators and stoves, on top of the television, or in a sunny window, which will cause the arrangement to wilt rapidly. Don’t place them near drafts from a heating or air conditioning vent. Keeping the flowers cool at night by putting them on a cool porch, in the
refrigerator, or in the basement will help them stay fresh longer. Don’t allow tropical flowers to be exposed to temperatures below 55 degrees F., however.
8. As the flowers begin to fade, remove the wilted blooms and leaves and replace them with new flowers or more greenery, or put the remaining attractive flowers in a smaller vase to use on the bathroom sink or on a shelf. The last few remaining blossoms can be placed in a lily bowl, small fish bowl, or other small bowl of water after the stem is clipped to 1/4".
9. Ask your florist about specific care and handling for different varieties. For example, gladioli will open their florets faster if you trim a couple of buds from the very tip of the spike.
Flower arrangements from a florist can be expensive, and even if you cut your own from the garden, you want to prolong the amount of time you can enjoy them indoors. With a little effort, you can add several days to the life span of your fresh flower arrangements!