Skip to main content

How to Care for Flowers

Flowers make a lovely addition to any home or room. Their color and fragrance can create a feeling of bringing an outdoor flower garden into an indoor environment. But the beauty of flowers won't last forever. They require attention and care from the moment that they are cut. By giving them the proper care, a person can help the flowers to stay fresher and be able to keep them longer.

There are two ways to obtain flowers for the home. A person can cut their own flowers from a garden, or they may be purchased already cut from a local florist or grocery store. When cutting flowers, it is important to perform the task in a way that will help keep them fresh, even before they are used in an arrangement or placed in a vase. The time of the day, for example, makes a difference in how long cut flowers will remain fresh and attractive. Ideally, the evening hours or early in the mornings are the best times to cut flowers. These are the times when flowers will have more stored food. Early morning flowers will also be more fragrant and enjoyable. The state, or maturity, of the flowers also makes a difference in how well they will keep. This can vary according to the type of plant. Certain plants, such as daffodils, irises, tulips, and peonies are best cut when they are still in the budding stage. Other flowers, such as marigolds, daisies, orchids, and violets, should be fully open when cut.

The stems of the flowers must be cut at an angle and longer than what is needed for the vase or arrangement that is planned. Cutting at an angle keeps a greater portion of the stem surface exposed. This is important because it allows the flower to absorb more water. Immediately after cutting them, the flowers should be placed into a bucket or some other large container of lukewarm water.

Further care must be taken before arranging flowers in their vases. This applies to both flowers that have been cut from a garden and flowers purchased at a florist or other retailer. A clean vase should be filled with water that is room temperature. If arranging flowers picked up at a florist, most often there will be an included packet of floral preservatives. Preservatives will help to feed and prolong the life of the flowers. This should be emptied into the water in the vase. If the flowers are cut from a garden, one can make their own preservative. There are many different recipes for homemade floral preservatives. They must contain three main elements, which are an acidifier, food, and a disinfectant to help slow down the growth of bacteria. A common combination includes sugar for the food, bleach, and the juice of a lemon.

Once the vase has been prepared, the cut flowers will need to be prepared for the vase. After taking the flowers out of the wrapping or the bucket of water, the tips should be placed under running water. The stems will need to be re-cut with a knife or sharp scissors. The cut should once again be at an angle of 45 degrees, and it should be made one inch above the original cut. This should be done under running water because exposure to air will immediately cause the cut to seal over and create a barrier. The barrier will prevent the stem from absorbing the water and nutrients that the flowers need. Denied of what it needs, the flowers will wilt and die sooner as opposed to later. Care doesn't come to an end once the flowers are placed in the vase. Because flowers keep longer in cooler conditions the vase should be placed in an area that is cool and where flowers won't be directly in the sunlight. After approximately two or three days, the ends will need to be re-trimmed, and the water and preservatives refreshed.

Whether one gets the flowers at a florist, supermarket or one's outdoor garden, they make a lovely addition to any indoor space. From a single bud in a vase to a full arrangement of complementary flowers, their appeal is undeniable. With the right steps, the freshness and beauty of flowers is easy to prolong. Even people who are unaccustomed to caring for flowers can keep a bouquet looking fresh for days.

Review the following list for further information on how to care for flowers.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Information on Helping your Flowers Last

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service: Information on Cut-Flower Care for Florists (PDF)