Store-bought flowers are one of the easiest ways to temporarily enhance your mood, yet their expense and relatively short lifespan make it difficult to get your money’s worth. Living in NYC, and its resulting inaccessibility to (super) freshly cut flowers means that to really squeeze every ounce of life out of the city’s blooms, I’ve got to be up to snuff on Flower 101. As a result of my conundrum, I figured I’d share ten of my tips, as well as those from flower-keeping masters, in increasing the longevity of your flowers.
1. Add bleach to keep water clear, and to prevent bacteria from forming on the base of stems, which halts water absorption. 1/4 teaspoon per quart of water.
2. While a significant amount of time spent outside of water is damaging for flowers, those in boutonnieres, bouquets, and other out-of-water displays may be kept in tact by misting, eight inches away, with water from a spray bottle.
3. Cut stems underwater to prevent air from entering, and at an angle to provide more surface area for the flower to drink up water.
4. Place all freshly cut flowers in warm water, although hydrangeas require hot tap water.
5. Aspirin, versatile in relieving many ailments, may also aid organisms of the leafy variety in reaching old age. Place one tablet in water before adding flowers.
6. As you would with scallions, score the ends of the stems of flowers from bulbs and tubers (lilies, tulips, amaryllis, etc.) to increase absorption.
7. Display away from sunlight and heat sources.
8. To ward off split stems, a common occurence with flowers like amaryllis, hyacinth, and the calla lily, fasten the base of the ends (2-3 times around) with clear tape.
9. Prior to arranging, place flowers in the refrigerator at 38-40 degrees for at least six hours.
10. Keep away from fruit, which releases ethylene gas that may cause flowers to wilt.
Some tips are adapted from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics, Reader’s Digest, and Fresh Flower Arranging.