Cut flowers are a perishable luxury indeed; while some hearty strains like chrysanthemums will last as long as a couple of weeks, most start to look pretty sad within a few days. But there are some ways to prolong the life of a cut-flower bouquet.
Start by preparing the stems. Using a sharp knife or razor blade (dull scissors or shears can crush and damage the stem) lop about a half-inch off the end. The fresh cut will make it easier for the flower to absorb water and nutrients.
Remove any leaves that will fall below the water line. If you don’t they’ll rot and get really smelly.
To make cut lilies last longer, remove the yellow anthers when they open.
Flowers with woody stems (like roses) can benefit from having the tip of the stem slit or slightly crushed.
Fill your vase with tepid (not ice cold!) water. If your flowers came from a florist you’ll probably get a packet of stuff to mix into it; if not, try one of the suggestions below.
- Courtesy of The Brooklyn Botanical Garden: mix 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon bleach, and 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice in a quart of warm water.
- Make a mixture of half water and half non-sugarfree lemon-lime soda (like 7-Up or Mountain Dew).
- Add a couple tablespoons each of vinegar and sugar to the water in your vase.
- Add tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of bleach to the water in your vase.
- Crush an aspirin and drop it into the water.
- Add a shot of cheap vodka to the water in your vase. Expensive vodka would work just as well, but flowers have no appreciation of good liquor and will never realize you’re foisting off the cheap stuff on them.
No matter which additive you use, it’s a good idea to change the water in the vase every couple of days. While you’re at it, remove any spent blossoms.