Fresh Cut Care
"Things blossom in their time. They bud and bloom, blossom and fade. Everything in its time."
-NEIL GAIMAN, The Graveyard Book
"How long will these flowers last?"
"How do I make the flowers last longer?"
These are the two most common questions people ask me, but I believe people already know the answers if they trusted their own instincts. Fresh cut flowers are blooms that have been removed from the growing plant, from their source of energy, in order to be showcased for their individual beauty. The flower, therefore, relies on you to get the food and water it needs to be at its healthiest during its short life cycle, which averages one week.*
In my opinion, you get the most from your flowers not when you count the days they were in your house, but when you take the time to enjoy caring for them. For it is in this way that you actually see the flower for what it is- flaws and flourishes, in all it's balance of delicacy and strength. Still, the questions are asked. So, how do you make your flowers last longer?
5 beginner ways to get the most life from your fresh cut flowers:
1. Give stems a fresh cut. When exposed to air, the stem ends dry up, sealing shut. By recutting the stem ends, you are giving the water a clear path to the petals. Do this anytime stem ends have been out of water for more than a minute. Cut off an inch or so (more if they've been out of water for longer than an hour), angling the cut to expose more surface area for water absorption.
2. Keep the water clean. Would you want to drink mucky, cloudy water? Neither do your flowers. Change out the water daily or as needed.
3. Add flower food. Though not a necessity compared to flowers' urgency for water, flower food was developed by scientists to give a boost of nourishment for cut flowers. The results range drastically, but it is generally reported to add another 40% bloom time. Your florist will have flower food for you; add with every water change.
4. Keep them comfortably cool. The heat from direct sunlight, moisture-sapping radiators and vents can prematurely fade your flowers. Cold drafts and blowing air can also zap their energy. Flowers last longest in a shady, humid environment- but, don't let that stop you from showcasing them in a place you're likely to see and enjoy them the most.
5. Remove spent stems. Snip off faded blooms and pull lackluster stems from the arrangement as they expire to keep the rest of the arrangement looking it's best.
And, remember, nothing lasts forever. Beauty is fleeting, they say, and flowers are no exception. Lavish them with appreciation while they are with you, and they will give you everything they can to make you happy. When it's time for them to rest, they will tell you. Thank them for uplifting your home, add them to your compost pile (ask your city if they have a compost program as part of their trash and recycling service), then go forth and spread some beauty of your own.
*Many flowers are prized for their longevity beyond one week, including carnations, chrysanthemums, and tropicals. Foliage arrangements can also look great beyond the average flower lifespan. If longevity is a priority in your next floral arrangement, your florist can help you put together something beautiful that lasts closer to two or even three weeks.