Prolonging the Life of Cut Flowers

To Prolong Their Life
Cut flowers should be plunked immediately into water until they can be arranged. Then consider these tips, though not scientific, from several flower arrangers.

The Two Main Causes for Cut Flowers Wilting
Air bubbles in the stem’s transport tubules, and fungi and bacteria in the water. Change the water every few days and recut the stems under water. Remove leaves which will be under water helps prevent mushy, smelly decay. A few drops of chloral may retard fungus. Floralite (a product available from many florists) has some of these and plant hormones that also may help.

A bit of sugar added to the water supposedly helps the buds open and may provide an energy source for the flowers. Keep flowers away from heat sources (like on top of the TV), out of direct sunlight and also prevent them from freezing. Most last longer in a cool place. Some flowers are programmed genetically to last longer than others. Among the longest lasting ones are miniature carnations and chrysanthemums.

Roses
Much has been written about these because they wilt so quickly and the buds fail to open. For best results with roses, plunge them into water as soon as possible. To arrange them, make a new cut in the stem at an angle, ideally under water to prevent air getting into the fresh cut. Use lukewarm water immediately after making the fresh cut. When the roses stiffen up, change to cool water. Floralite is recommended. With luck they’ll last a week. Recut the stems every day. If they wilt prematurely, recut the stems and put immediately into hot tap water until the head stands erect. Repeat after 30 minutes if needed. Then change back to cool water. The fresher the roses, the longer they should last.

Mixed Bouquets
Since different flowers last different lengths of time, pull the ones that die sooner out of the remaining blossoms. If necessary add a bit of fresh picked garden greenery to fill the bare spot. Nip the topmost buds from snapdragons and delphinium if the tips wilt and fall over, but most of their other buds will open.

Lilies
They will last usually until each bud opens, so carefully cut off the dead flowers and leaves that turn brown as the remaining buds swell and open.

Tulips, Daffodils, Iris and Freesia
Immediately recut the stems and put into cold tap water. Change the water once a day . Most spring flowers usually last a few days at best but the cooler they are kept, the longer they will last, ideally with temperatures under 70°. Put in a cool spot at night or even in the refrigerator. Tulips are interesting because they are one of the few flowers that will continue to move towards light, almost like continuing to grow even after being cut.