We're all familiar with it. You buy a fresh, beautiful bunch of flowers from market, put them in a vase at home, and a couple days later the water starts turning mucky and the flowers begin to wilt. What's happening? Why? What are those little flower food packets they sell with bouquets at grocery stores? Are they worth it? How can I get my flowers to last longer? This post is all about answering these questions!
Flowers wilt and the water turns mucky because of bacteria on the stems/leaves. Most flower growers and designers know to strip the leaves off the part of the stem that's in water, but sometimes a few slip by. These leaves, and particularly hairy stems like zinnias and sunflowers, hold a lot of bacteria that not only make the water yucky, but can clog the pores of the stem preventing the flower from taking up water, thus, wilting.
Those flower food packets at grocery stores contain 3 main ingredients: a bactericide, an acid, and sugar. The bactericide helps keep the water clean, the acid allows flowers to take up water through their stems, and the sugar is a little food for the flowers. So, they are intended to keep the water clean and help your flowers last longer. They work and I'd say they are worth it. I personally use a solution like this every single time I harvest. I use Vita One Step floral solution from Vita Products. Their solution is organic, environmentally friendly, and biodegradable. The good news is there are home remedies you can make to help your flowers last longer. The recipe is: a drop of bleach and a splash of regular 7-UP soda. (You don't want to use Diet). Alternatively, you can use an actual squirt of lemon juice and a little sugar stirred in. The bleach doesn't harm the flowers, but I don't have actual amounts for you. All I can recommend is the tiniest drop of bleach and a small splash of the other stuff. It really doesn't take much!
Giving your flowers this solution, whether homemade or bought, will certainly increase the vase life of your blooms! There are, however, other common practices you should be doing (and if the the floral solution thing sounds like too much of a hassle, at least changing out the water a few times per week will help your flowers last) For starters, it should be common practice that when you get your bouquet home, re-cut the stems before placing it in water. Flower stems begin to close up 7 seconds out of water!! This is their way of surviving. So, the stems are probably closed from your transit home with them and a fresh cut will open their pores again. Make sure your vase is squeaky clean before putting your flowers in. This cannot be stressed enough, because again, bacteria! It's also a good idea to make sure your snippers are clean when cutting the stems. Lastly, keep your bouquet in a cool location out of direct sunlight. Growing flowers like sun, but fresh cut flowers do not.
It is also worth mentioning that some varieties of flowers just naturally have a longer vase life than others. Some flowers are known for their shorter vase life. Such flowers with a shorter vase life (of 4-5 days) are cosmos, sweet peas, and zinnias sometimes. Some flowers that last super long in a vase (often 2 weeks!) are lisianthus, feverfew, strawflower, bells of Ireland. Most flowers fall in the range of lasting a good, solid week. When I make bouquets for my home, I personally like to pick out the flowers that die first and continue to enjoy the rest of the bouquet.
I hope these tips will help your bouquets to last longer so you get to enjoy them more!