By Madeline Poe
It is no secret that flowers make people feel good, and studies show that living with flowers can reduce stress levels, ease depression and promote compassion, among many other health and wellness benefits. With so much summer fun to be enjoyed outside, it’s easy to find beauty all around us. The positive effects are countless, so why not bring some of the season’s bounty inside to liven up your kitchen counter, dining room table or anywhere else you like.
Proper techniques and caring for your fresh flowers will make all the difference in how long they will last. While many flowers are only expected to be beautiful for a couple days, there are so many others that can stay alive for much longer if – and only if – you give them a bit of care and attention. If our customers ever report having trouble keeping certain stems from wilting, we are so eager to encourage following these best practices for your wrapped bouquet or vase arrangement. Whether it’s from our shop, the farmers market, your yard or the local Trader Joe’s, it is a common and unfortunate occurrence when blooms are spent and wilted sooner than expected.
Most often, this happens when the flowers can’t properly uptake water. Here are some simple but important steps to take when you have flowers in a vase.
If you’re bringing back a bunch of loose stems that are not arranged in a vase, you will need to recut them. First, prepare a clean vase with clean water at room temperature. Be sure to remove any and all foliage that will fall below the water line because any debris in the water will breed bacteria. Many summer blooms have stems with tiny hairs on them, which you will notice on sunflowers especially, and zinnias too. Anything that has a woody stem or a hairy stem will be quicker to dirty the water!
Cutting all the stems before placing them in the vase is imperative for the stems to hydrate, and cutting at an angle is strongly suggested as it allows for more open surface area that can uptake water. This helps keep the end of the stem from sitting flat on the bottom of the vase, which could also hinder the uptake of water and nutrients. Using sharp and clean tools is also very important. If you don’t have a favorite pair of clippers, pruners or snips, scissors will work; just make sure that you make a clean cut of the stem, and know that if the stem tissue is ripped up and ragged, it will result in inadequate water uptake.
Extending the life of your vase arrangement
If you have received or created a mixed arrangement and want to keep it looking its best as long as possible, here are a few ways to help.
Make sure the vase is full of water, because if any stems are above the water line and can’t drink, they will wilt and die. We encourage our customers to add fresh water to their vase arrangements every day.
If you notice that the vase is full of dirty water, flush the water out in the sink until the vase holds clear water. Keep the arrangement as cool as possible and away from any draft, air conditioning or heat source. Cut flowers in your windowsill will perish far sooner than they would otherwise.
There are a few exceptions to the full vase of clean water rule, as some stems will resent being in that much water and become mushy and soggy. If you have a bunch of sunflowers or zinnias, or ranunculus, calla lilies, carnations or gerbera daisies, they all would be happy with just a few inches of fresh water in the vase. However, if you have a mix that includes hydrangeas and or roses, it’s best to keep the vase full for those water-loving flowers.
Other ideas for bringing the outside in
You don’t have to buy a whole bunch of flowers to enjoy the freshness that cut stems will surely bring you. If you have a simple glass vase you can buy, or cut from your garden, one or two stems of a leafy foliage or branch for some long lasting freshness. Lots of woody shrubs and perennial plants will perform well in a vase. Herbs work well for this too, and during the summer months I regularly have basil clippings in a vase that can produce roots after about a week. Mint is my second favorite for this and Oregano can also root in water.
Visit your local city park, local nursery or just walk around your neighborhood for some inspiration, and come by The Enchanted Florist for some special stems. Either way, give your fresh cut flowers a bit of TLC and you’ll enjoy the beauty and wellness benefits they provide all summer long!
The writer is the assistant manager and events specialist for The Enchanted Florist.