1. WATER, WATER, WATER!!
Amanda Curtis at Pansy & Ivy in Elizabeth City, NC says, “adding fresh cold water to the vase is the best way to help flower arrangements stay fresh and last longer. These flowers are still living and need constant hydration,” says Curtis. Depending on how the arrangement is created, it may also have some stems that do not extend all the way to the bottom of the vase, in that case it is essential to keep water level up. Also, some cut flowers drink more water than others. Make sure to monitor water level daily.
2. TAP WATER IS FINE, BUT FILTERED WATER CAN BE BETTER
Tap water is perfectly fine for flower arrangements, most industry experts say. But, if you have filtered water available, use it! It cannot hurt! “We always use filtered water for all of our fresh cut flowers and arrangements,” says Emily Williams of Wholesale Flower Market in Chesapeake, VA. “It is common practice for most florist to use filtered water that is treated with nutrients to ensure a long life,” she adds.
3. USE THE PACKET OF FLOWER FOOD!!
If your bouquet of flowers came with a small square packet, USE IT! These packets contain powdered flower food that can help nourish your flowers, ensuring a long life. The flower food packets contain sugar for nutrients, an acidifier to maintain the water’s pH level and help the stems with hydration, and bleach to reduce bacteria in the water. For the best results Williams suggests, “make sure to always add the right amount of flower food to the indicated amount of water by following the instructions on the back of the pack. It is important to not overtreat the water so it doesn’t burn the flowers up, but then if you add too little it is ineffective.”
Transporting an arrangement can be a stressful task, but with a little prep work it shouldn’t be. It is essential to make sure that the arrangement is secure so it will not move, shift or fall over. “We use our old flower boxes, which are shallow and long,” says Curtis. “Tape the ends of the box up so it does not come apart, then take a utility knife and cut a star pattern in the top about the size of your vase. Shove vase down in your precut holes and you should have a secure transportation box.”
Sometimes you must put your arrangement in the back of your vehicle, when this happens make sure to put your arrangement in a well-ventilated area that will not get hot on your trip. Fresh cut flowers are very susceptible to heat and if you add no air flow to the equation, the outcome can be disastrous. If your vehicle has rear AC make sure it is turned on to provide some relief for your flowers.
5. CUT (AND RECUT) THE ENDS OF THE STEMS
If you are trying to get the maximum amount of life out of your cut flowers you will want to cut and recut the ends of your flower stems. Taking the flowers out of the arrangement is a daunting task but if you grab by the base of the arrangement you can probably make it happen in one fell swoop. Place arrangement back in vase after cutting and make sure everything is still in order.
Ensure the best cut by using sharp scissors to cut the bottom-most inch off the stems at an angle rather than straight across. Williams explains, “this will give more surface area to the bottom of the stem, which will allow the flower maximum access to the water. Also, consider cutting the stems under water to avoid air pockets, which can interfere with their ability to hydrate properly.”
6. CLEAN YOUR VASES
“Having clean equipment makes all the difference in the world,” says Williams. “Clean fresh water, vases, buckets, cutting tools, and storage areas are keys to keeping away bacteria that cause premature aging.” A simple washing using soap and water will suffice. If you want to be extra careful, you may use bleach water for cleaning of your vases and equipment.
7. LOCATION MATTERS
Always choose a location for your arrangement that is cooler rather than hotter. Williams says, “the best practice is to keep your flower arrangement in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight, HVAC vents, and entry doors.” Any hot airflow will dry out and cause premature wilting of your arrangement.
Refrigerators work! If you can put your arrangement in the refrigerator overnight or during the day while you are gone, DO IT! Experiments have been done that show by putting flowers in the refrigerator overnight it helped to keep them alive longer. Bottom line, if they can fit in refrigerator the cold temperature will help preserve them.
8. DON’T GET CRAZY
There are many wives’ tales and such that will have you putting all sorts of things in with your arrangements, from pennies to vodka. But sticking with the basic steps outlined above will give your flowers the best chance at a long life. “And let’s face it, they are cut flowers and they will eventually die, some quicker than others. So, if you see one or two dead flowers in with your arrangement, carefully pull or cut them out and throw away. Keep the ones that are living so your arrangement lives on,” Curtis adds.