- Flowers keep best when cut with a sharp knife (un-serrated) and plunged immediately into water. Always make a cut on a slant, as it exposes more stem surface area.
- Also, remove leaves that will be under water in the arrangement, but do not remove thorns from roses as it tends to shorten their life.
- Cut roses, irises, daffodils and gladiolas in bud stage. Marigolds, dianthus, and delphiniums should be open. After cutting, immediately put flowers in lukewarm, not cold, water.
- Cut flowers early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it is cooler. Morning is when the plant is filled with stored food and the flowers are most fragrant.
- Use plain, lukewarm water for most cut flowers, but use cold water for bulb flowers, such as daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips.
- Change the water every 2 days — don’t just top it off. This is the single most effective thing you can do to keep your flowers looking fresh.
- Keep flowers out of direct sunlight, and move them to a cool place at night.
- Give daffodils their own vase — daffodil stems give off a compound that is toxic to other flowers.
- Keep cut flowers away from fruit, which releases a gas that causes flowers to age faster.
Using Flower Preservatives
Nearly all commercial floral preservatives contain a biocide, an acidifier, and sugar.
Biocides are chemicals that kill the bacteria, yeasts and fungi that feed on the sap that seeps from the cut flower stem. The acid helps water move up the stem more easily and the sugar acts as a flower food.
Here are some of the alternatives we’ve heard about that may be able to be used in place of commercial flower preservatives. Some methods work better than others. Let us know if you try any of them.
- Put a penny and an aspirin tablet in the vase water
- Add one part lemon-lime soda (not diet) to 3 parts water. Then to each quart of this solution, add 1/4 teaspoon bleach. Thereafter, add 1/4 teaspoon bleach after each 4 days of use.
- To 1 quart water add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon bleach.
- Add 2 ounces Listerine mouthwash per gallon of water. Listerine contains sucrose (food) and a bactericide. Listerine is acidic and is said help water move up the cut stem.