Ways to Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer

Ways to Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer

Who doesn’t love a fresh bouquet of flowers to liven up a room? That splash of color, the sweet fragrance, the sense of transient temporal beauty. But if you buy flowers often, you know that some bouquets can be a little too temporary and that inevitably the day comes when petals start to brown and stems start to droop.

But there are ways to prolong your bouquet and to stave off the dead flower blues. Here are some tips to make those sunflowers and roses, those hyacinths and daisies last a little longer.


  1. Choose healthy flowers. A key to long lasting floral arrangements is to choose the healthiest bouquets to begin with. North Carolina State University horticulturalist Lucy Bradley recommends pulling the arrangement from its display to check for clean water, broken or slimy stems, gray mold, or spotted/drooping leaves or petals. For the longest lasting flowers, look for arrangements where the buds are only just beginning to open.


  1. Keep the water clean. One of the best ways to prolong flower life is to maintain fresh water. Frequently dump old water and replace it with fresh to prevent bacteria from growing, which can block the stem from absorbing water.


  1. Prepare your bouquet. Experts recommend cutting the ends off floral stems before putting them in a vase. Use a sharp clean knife or shears to cut a half inch of the stem off at a 45 degree angle. You may also have heard of adding sugar to the flower water. That’s because, according to botanist Andrew Gaumond, cut flowers continue to complete respiratory functions, but not photosynthesis, which provides the carbohydrates they need to survive. While sugar acts as a source of energy for the flowers, it is not as readily absorbed as the packets often provided with bouquets.


  1. Keep them free of fungus and bacteria: An old and effective trick is to put a penny in the bottom of your vase. Copper is an effective antifungal/antimicrobial agent. But to get enough copper for this method to work, you’ll want to use a penny minted on or before 1982. You may also find advice concerning adding bleach, vinegar, aspirin, or even vodka to flower water for similar antimicrobial purposes. However, there is little science to support these claims, and you are as likely to accelerate the decline of your bouquet as you are to prolong it.


  1. Place your bouquet well. Direct sunlight may accent color, but it tends to dry out bouquets quickly as does placing them near cold drafts. Placing your bouquet in the center of a room away from windows, doors, and vents can increase its lifespan. It is also a good idea to keep flowers away from fruit because the ethylene gas fruits produce accelerates maturation of flowers, leading to shorter lifespans for your bouquet.

Ivan Young is a writer in partnership with designer furniture retailer Bauhaus 2 Your House.