6 Ways to Maximize the Life of Your Fresh Flower Arrangements
Whether you’ve bought fresh flowers for yourself to enjoy at home or for your friends to give as gifts, you want to make sure you give your flowers the longest life possible. After all, flowers are not cheap and it takes time and effort to create beautiful arrangements. Taking proper care of your flowers once you bring them home can allow you to appreciate them for up to several days or even weeks longer than you would if you neglect their needs. Here are some helpful tips for you to try at home to maximize the life of any fresh flower arrangement.
Water. Once you’ve brought your flowers home, the first thing you need is water. It may sound painfully obvious to have fresh water for your fresh flowers, but maybe the next few tidbits won’t be as obvious. Some people think fresh flowers love cold water. However, fresh cut flowers actually like lukewarm or room temperature water. Flowers are able to absorb lukewarm water better than cold water. All fresh flowers are prone to wilting but some are more sensitive to wilting than others (think hydrangeas and gerbera daisies). So, the next time you buy your flowers, stop by the restroom and grab a few wet paper towels to wrap the bottom of your stems. This way your flowers stay hydrated on their way home. Feel free to take a bucket, ideally a cooler bucket or a container shaped like one, if you think you’ll be buying more than just a few blooms. If you’re purchasing a bouquet from your local florist, make sure you ask for water tubes.
Flower Food. Make sure you add flower nutrients or preservatives to your warm bucket of water. These nutrients are important to extending the life of your flowers. Not only do they nourish your flowers and assist in the ability to absorb water, but they also keep the water clean and clear. They also help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria that can clog stems and get in the way of water absorption. Flower food either comes in liquid or powder form. Aquaplus and Floralife both manufacture it in the two forms. I’ve always used the powder nutrients by Aquaplus and have been happy with it so I stick to it. Since I only purchase it in the 30lb pail, I like to keep a smaller portion in a 16oz plastic container to take with me everywhere. Make sure you ask for a few packets from your local florist if they haven’t already included them with your floral purchase. If you want to keep your own supply of nutrients at home, you can purchase them online through sites such as Amazon and eBay.
Floral Foam. If you plan on arranging your flowers in a container with floral foam, be sure to first soak your foam in a solution of lukewarm water and nutrients prior to arranging. This will help prolong the life of your arrangement. Try not to place your foam under running water because you’re in a hurry. This can create air pockets in your foam and can jeopardize proper water uptake of your stems. For the same reason, try not to quicken the water absorption of the foam but submerging it with your hands. Let the foam soak up the water and nutrients all on its own by placing the foam in a large container filled with ample water and nutrients. Aquafoam and Oasis are two major brands that make designer floral foam. Floral foam can come in bricks and blocks but can also come in forms such as spheres, cones, and wreath shapes. Oasis makes brick foams in various densities from light to medium to heavy. The bricks that they make with Oasis® Floral Foam Maxlife with Enhanced Biodegradability are said to be “the only floral foam proven to provide flower life that lasts as long or longer than flowers in a vase of water” (www.oasisfloralproducts.com).
Instant hydration solution. Once you’ve prepared your floral bucket with water and nutrients, cut your stems about 1-2” at a 45-degree angle before dipping them for a second in an instant hydration solution such as Quick Dip by Floralife. Cutting the stems at an angle allow for better water uptake than if you were to cut the stems straight. When you're cutting your stems, be sure to use the proper tools for maximum results.* Quick Dip is a ready-to-use solution that does not need to be mixed with water or any other solution. It can be used on all types of flowers. Simply open the bottle and pour about 2 inches worth of contents into a clean, shallow plastic or glass container. I like to use a clear glass container for my Quick Dip so that I can see how clean or dirty the solution is once I’ve started to use it. If the solution gets dirty after conditioning many stems, rinse the container and add another serving of Quick Dip into the container. Make sure the container is heavy enough that it is not prone to tipping, as you will be dipping several long stems at a time. Try not to keep your stems in this solution for long, as it is acidic and can cause discoloration of stem tissue. Once you've dipped your stems in Quick Dip, make sure you rid of all leaves that would fall below the waterline. Leaves kept in water will deteriorate and rot, making for the perfect condition for bacteria and fungi to grow. However, do keep the rest of the leaves above the waterline on the stem, as these leaves help absorb the solution as well. It is important not to skip this step of using an instant hydration solution for your flowers because most flowers are transported by planes nowadays -- packed in cardboard boxes and out of water. Therefore, fresh cut flowers arrive at the store dehydrated and in dire need of water.
* Check out the article on essential tools for arranging fresh flowers at http://mommyjessica.hubpages.com/hub/10-Essential-Tools-and-Supplies-for-Arranging-Flowers-like-an-Expert.
Hydration and protection spray. Once your flowers are arranged in foam or in a vase, you want to spray the finished design with a hydration and protection spray. I rely on Finishing Touch by Floralife. A few sprays throughout the arrangement can refresh, hydrate, and protect your flowers and foliage. It contains ingredients that are important to keeping your blooms fresh and the colors vibrant. A light mist of this spray throughout the arrangement can help prevent premature petal drop, dehydration, wilting and browning. There is no need to drench your flowers in this solution. A simple spray of Finishing Touch can extend the life of your flowers by 1 to 5 extra days.
Water (again). I can’t emphasize the need for hydration enough when it comes to prolonging the life of fresh flowers. Your flowers will not only want fresh water when you bring them home, but they will want their water changed every 2-3 days, earlier if the water is murky. Don’t just change or add water to your arrangement, but take your stems out of the vase and place them in a different container while you thoroughly clean the vase. Using antibacterial dishwashing soap may be helpful in scrubbing away all the bacteria that has formed in the few days that your flowers have been in water. Once the vase is cleaned, remember to cut your stems again at a 45-degree angle for maximum water absorption.