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5 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Cut Flowers

Tip #1: Replenish the water frequently and change the water entirely every 2-3 days.

Flowers drink a lot of water! Keep the vase full to ensure the flowers do not dry out and wilt. Flowers are also highly susceptible to bacteria that build up as stems sit in water. By changing the water every few days, you will help keep your flowers fresh longer. For large formal arrangements, carefully tip the vase over a sink to let the water drain without disturbing the design, then re-fill the vase.

Tip #2: Keep flower stems trimmed. 

Use sharp, clean scissors to remove a half inch of stem from your flowers before putting them in a vase. Re-cut the stems each time you change the water.  If flowers sit out of water during transport, the ends of the stem dry out and the cells die, making it difficult for the flowers to absorb water. By cutting the stems just prior to placing them in water, you allow the flowers to drink the water much more efficiently. By re-cutting the ends each time you change the water, you renew the ability of the stem to absorb more water.

Tip #3: Consider the placement of your arrangement. 

Avoid setting your vase of flowers in a sunny windowsill. Sun and heat will encourage the flowers to “mature” and quicken their demise.  Also keep your flowers away from ripening fruit – especially apples and bananas -- as they emit an odorless, invisible gas (ethylene) that induces flowers to drop their petals.

Tip #4: Once your arrangement has “expired”, be sure to wash the vase thoroughly in hot soapy water.

Bacteria build up in dirty vases and do not go away just because the vase dries out. Give your flowers a fresh clean environment free of bacteria and they will last much longer.

Tip #5: Consider the use of “flower food” – with one proviso

While changing the water every other day or so is often just as effective for making flowers last longer, adding those flower food packets that come with packaged flowers may be beneficial. This is especially true if you’re forgetful oe unlikely to change your flowers’ water regularly. In addition to “feeding” the bouquet, these food packets contain a bactericide that keeps the water fresh for a day or two longer. You can make your own flower food by adding about 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and a 1 teaspoon of bleach to your vase before adding about a quart of warm tap water. Note, however, that there are a few flowers -- notably zinnias, sunflowers and glads -- that do NOT like flower food in the vase.

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