Top tips to make flowers last longer

Who doesn’t love a bundle of freshly cut flowers? Catching the relaxing hint of wild fragrances as you step through the door is enough to brighten even the dreariest of days. If you’re lucky enough to have your partner surprise you with a bouquet of flowers, chances are you’ve already arranged them in a vase to illuminate your kitchen, lounge, or bedroom.

Fresh flowers are one of the simplest things to let you know you’re home. There’s little else that can compete with the pleasure of seeing a collection of vibrant tulips or roses bloom to their full potential. But while they look fantastic on day one, by the end of the week they’ve usually wilted entirely; sometimes even sooner! It might leave you asking the question; how long do flowers last?

Surprisingly, most bouquets of flowers can continue to light up your home for well over a week. The trick is learning how to make cut flowers last longer.

Unfortunately, learning how to make flowers last longer isn’t as simple as choosing your preferred vase and filling it with a very specific amount of water. That’s why we’ve put all the usual tips and secret tricks we could find on how to keep flowers fresh into one simple blog. Soon you’ll know exactly how to make flowers last longer, keeping those gorgeous blooms looking fantastic for 10 days or more. Put these tips into action with a stunning bouquet of flowers from thortful, available with next day delivery alongside any card. 

(Alternatively, if you’ve got a green thumb, find out how to make your indoor plants last with our guide on how to take care of your house plants)

How to pick fresh flowers

Before you even begin to consider which flowers to buy and where to position them, we need to get to the root of the problem. Most shop-bought flowers, especially from big retailers like supermarkets, are not actually that fresh.

Not only does the plastic packaging promote early wilting, picking flowers already in bloom means they’ve reached the middle of their life cycle. They might look beautiful now, but those roses won’t last more than a few days.

If you’re picking from a florist, or buying flowers online, make sure you take your time browsing their selection. Look specifically for those flowers that are still in their buds with plenty of closed petals. Closed flowers are yet to bloom, and while they don’t look spectacular yet, in a few days they’ll be the only thing you’ll want to look at as their magnificent colours burst forth. Flowers from thortful, for example, are always sent in bud, to make sure your lucky recipient gets the best of their blooms. 

But don’t get too carried away with your selection. A huge variation of flowers will look nice, but to make caring for your flowers as easy as possible, it’s best to stick to two types. Certain flowers do worse in different heats and pH levels, meaning if you have a varied mix, you’ll likely find some wilting sooner than others.

(Have a favourite flower? Why not take a look at our blog on what your favourite flower says about you after you’ve finished this one.)

How to prepare your vase

If you find yourself wondering; how long do flowers last without water, the simple answer is that they won’t. If you plan on keeping your flowers for longer than a day, you need to keep them in a vase with water.

Fortunately, now that you know how to pick the right flowers, we can move straight to preparing your vase properly. Make sure it’s not too big for your chosen bouquet and thoroughly clean it with warm soapy water before you buy your flowers.

A clean vase is vital in keeping bacteria and contaminants to a minimum. Excessive bacteria is the leading cause for early wilting, blocking a flower’s stem so it can’t soak up water. Not only that, but high levels of bacteria are the reason why vase water becomes discoloured and flower stems become slimy.

Cutting your flowers’ stems

So, you’ve bought the freshest flowers possible, and your vase is so clean you can see your face in its sparkle. All you need to do now is fill it with room temperature water and drop your flowers in, right?

Well, you could. Or you could do what all the best florists do and carefully cut away unnecessary parts of the stem.

First, you’ll want to remove any extra leaves that sit beneath the waterline. Leaving these leaves attached will cause them to slowly rot, promoting more unwanted bacteria growth. You might also want to remove any large petals at the base of a flower’s head, as these guard petals can prevent a flower from blooming to its full potential.

Now comes the most important tip of all. Before you put your flowers into their vase, you should always cut the base of their stems at a 45-degree angle under warm running water. Cutting the base of your flower’s stem in this way allows for immediate hydration, cleans off any bacteria on the stems, and lets the plant suck up water in the vase more efficiently. Don’t go overboard, however. You only need to remove 3-5cm of the stem’s base for it to have a noticeable effect.

And for another bonus tip, if your plant has thorns, leave these attached. Removing thorns causes the wounds left behind to weep sugar. Like rotting leaves, this will promote bacterial growth.

 Where to position your vase

With your flowers prepped and cleaned, you can now finally slip them into your vase and arrange them to your liking. All that’s left is to decide where to put them. While it can be tempting to nestle them on your windowsill for direct sunlight, the best location for any fresh flowers is actually in an open, shaded space.

Heat is the enemy of fresh flowers. Direct sunlight is especially bad as it rapidly dehydrates them, causing them to wilt well before they should. Hot appliances, like ovens and hobs, as well as very humid spaces, should also be avoided for the same reasons. If excessive heat is unavoidable, then the addition of a few ice cubes can help keep your plants cool.

Interestingly, you should also avoid placing your flowers near any fruit. The colour combinations may look pretty, but fruit actually releases a hormone called Ethylene which causes flowers to age faster.

How to keep flowers fresh in a vase

At this point, you might think you can sit back and enjoy the vibrant life your flowers bring to the room. But don’t get too complacent. To keep your flowers as perky as possible, change the vase water every 2-3 days, trimming the very tip of the stems as you did before. You can also mist your flowers daily as they’re able to drink water through the head.

Alas, wilting will be unavoidable, so be sure to always pluck out wilted flowers the moment you notice them as they also release ethylene.

Helpful tricks to make flowers last longer

And that’s it. Simple but effective, with all these tips and tricks in hand, you’ll be surprised just how long your flowers will last. But we won’t leave you without sharing a few more extra benefits to help your flowers blossom.

Plant food is an excellent way to give your flowers a boost. Pick up a packet specifically for cut flowers and follow the instructions on the packet when mixing it with the water. Soda is also a good alternative for this if you can’t find plant food.

If you’re worried about ethylene affecting your flowers you can add a spike of vodka to the water as this actually reduces its production. And if it’s a particularly hot summer night, you can place your flowers in the fridge, so they don’t overheat.

 

With this knowledge in hand, you can go out there and pick the most luxurious flowers you can find. And if you’re planning on gifting them, thortful has a wide range of both flower themed cards and regular cards, appropriate for all occasions.

For more home and gifting inspiration, you can check out the thortful blog. We have a full guide on how to press flowers and plenty of lifestyle tips.

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