9 Tips to Make Vase Flowers Last Longer

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Bringing flowers home and putting them on display is a great way to liven up a room. The petals add color, and the foliage brings a fresh burst of oxygen to the house. Whether you're buying bouquets from the store or cutting them from your own garden, it's easy to let the vase flowers lose life and die quickly. Here are a few tips that will make your flowers last longer and keep your home feeling vibrant and refreshed.

1. Keep it clean. Gunk-free buckets, pruners and water will reduce the bacteria that clogs stems and hastens rotting. The little packet that most florists hand you with your bouquet is designed to destroy bacteria, so use it. If you use it all or lose it, then try this at-home mixture: 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ teaspoon household chlorine bleach, 1 quart warm water. Mix and pour.

2. Ditch the scissors. Use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut your flowers. Scissors just squeeze and crush stems, setting you back and making the flowers even worse than when you started.

3. Cut at an angle. By cutting the bottom of your flower stems at an angle, you prevent them from sitting flat against the bottom of the vase and blocking water entry. By cutting off the bottom inch or two of the stems, you remove the natural seal that formed when the stems were first cut at the florist and remove any bacteria that could block the ends. It also eliminates air bubbles that can form when the stem is first cut.

4. Short is good. Shorter stems actually help. They allow water to get to the blooms more quickly and easily, helping your flowers look vibrant for longer. Consider getting short and wide vase to accommodate the shorter height.

5. Lose the leaves. Leaves, while sometimes attractive, actually take energy away from the bloom of the flower. Instead of water traveling directly to the bloom, it will detour into the leaves, leaving less for the foliage. Also, don't leave any foliage or leaves in the water itself. It will quickly break down and turn to goo, which clogs water access to the stem. NEVER remove your leaves with a scraping tool. It's too easy to damage the stem that way, and pulling them lightly with your fingers will usually do the trick. If not, use a well-sharpened razor or scalpel and cut the leaf stem as close to the stem as possible.

6. Cut the heat: Room temperature tap water is the happiest bath for most bouquets. Don't make the water too cold, and don't make it too hot. Even lukewarm is too much for the blooms to keep their refreshing glow.

7. Condition. Many professionals will dip fresh-cut stems in a conditioner like Floralife Quick Dip, which is an instant pretreatment hydration solution. Combine this method with the pouch of floral preservative that came with your flowers. Storing fresh-cut flowers for six hours in a cool corner of the basement after doing this can triple the vase life. WARNING: Don't use conditioner on stems cut from bulbs. This can damage the foliage.

8. Ditch the swamp water. Gunk in your vase water will clog up the stems and reduce water access to your flowers. If you're iffy about holding the bouquet out over the sink while dumping the water and refilling it, then try this method: Leave the flowers in the vase and hold it under the running faucet. As the fresh water runs in, the old water will spill out. Do this until all the gunk is gone.

9. Rinse the stems. Regularly running your stems under room temperature water will keep them refreshed and clean, decreasing the chance of bacteria buildup that can damage or ruin your flowers. Consider running the foliage under the water, as well, but keep the water on low pressure to avoid damage from excess force. It will give your flowers a refreshed look and cool them down if they've been overexposed to heat in your house.

At the end of the day, it's all about taking care of your flowers. By treating them right and paying a little bit of attention to them, you can have every room looking bright and lively at any time of year.

Last Updated: July 22, 2011
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for Idealhomegarden.com

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