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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Keeping your bouquet beautiful longer

by Lili Mounce

I was sitting in the dentist's waiting room for 2 hours yesterday afternoon and had more than enough time to read my book and read all I cared to read from their magazine selection. In one of the magazines, there was a quick tip for preserving the beauty of cut flowers, with a penny and some sugar.

The skeptic in me wanted to do some research on the penny thing. What I found out was the theory behind a penny, is that copper is a natural anti-fungal. Good, right? However, not enough copper can actually leach into the water to do any anti-fungal-ing. Then the sugar. I knew this must be for food, but how much, and would it really replace the food that plants naturally make while still growing? And what else could keep your bouquet beautiful longer?  After reading many sites info, here's the best of the best for you.

  • Cut your flowers early in the day. Okay, this one is a bit hard for me, as I'm doing housework early in the day, and don't have time to be out dancing amongst the roses. So, if not early in the day, just not in the heat of the day.
  • You want to get them into water as quickly as possible. If more than 5 minutes elapse between cutting and putting into water, cut about 1 inch off the stem. When air comes in contact with the stem end, the air begins to block the cells which take up water.  This I can do.
  • Pay attention to water temperature. Ideally the water temperature, when flowers are first cut should be about 110 degrees F. This temperature allows for maximum water uptake in the stem and blossom and will prolong the life of your blooms. Now allow the water to cool to room temperature. (You don't need to keep the water at 110 F/43 C.)   Again, I can do this. I have a meat thermometer and a candy thermometer. One of those should work for this.
  • To the water, add floral preservative or a homemade substitute. Floral preservative is a combination of an acidifier to lower the pH of the water, a source of food (such as sugar) to continue feeding the stems and blooms, as the leaves can no longer produce their own food through photosynthesis once cut and brought indoors, and something to inhibit microorganism growth (such as a tiny amount of chlorine bleach, no more than 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) Too much chlorine bleach will cause the water pH to rise, negating the effects of the acidifier.). 
  • A good recipe to try is 1 quart (950 mL) 110 degree F (43 C) water, 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) bleach, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) vinegar, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sugar.  Got all that stuff at home.

Next some instructions for keeping your flowers.

  • Do not keep your flowers near fresh fruit. The fruit gives off ethylene which is the gas for ripening fruit, and you guessed it, "ripening" or aging blossoms. Most of my fresh fruit is in the garden right now. Don't think I'll be setting the vase down out there. So, I'm good with this one.
  • Change the water every other day, using the floral preservative recipe, but with regular room temp water. And while you're at it, cut another 1 inch off the stems. This I'll try to remember to do. But I do get busy, and forget to do things like this.
  • Keep your flowers in the fridge overnight.   Now this one has me laughing. There's no way I'll remember to put the flowers to bed in the fridge and remember to take them back out in the morning. But so far, two out of three ain't bad. I can do the other two.
Most of all, enjoy your beautiful bouquets this summer. Winter comes around all too soon!

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  1. Cool!! I always wished I could get my flowers to last forever without them being fake! This will work for now :-P

    PS Speaking of strange things to learn about plants... I heard on the radio that if you store tomatoes with the stem part down, they last 3-4 days longer. Weird!

    1. Hi Mallory,
      I'll have to try that with the tomatoes. Thanks for the tip!

      About storing bananas, I heard that if you separate them from the bunch that they last longer.

      Strange stuff, but a lot of it works.

  2. Thanks for the tips. I picked some wildflowers on my walk yesterday and have them in a small bud vase in my office, so this is timely!

    1. Hi Pamela,
      Sounds pretty. They, (all those experts who have nothing more to do than spout opinions), say that if you have some from either the plant or animal kingdom in your workplace, that you have a higher satisfaction with your job. So, with your flowers on your desk, are you feeling more satisfied today?

      My son works in an office where they're allowed to bring in their dogs. And I do think it provides a more relaxed working environment. You just have to be careful where you leave your sandwich! More than one soggy, bitten into sandwich for my son!

      About the homemade floral preservatives, they do seem to be working.
      Hope your wildflowers last and provide lots of cheer!


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