How to make flower bouquets last longer

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Last Updated: 
February 19, 2003

CORVALLIS - Spring is prime time for bouquets. If you like flowers inside the house as well as outside, Barb Fick, home horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service, has some hints to keep flowers looking fresh longer.

  • Pick flowers early in the morning. Take along a small bucket of warm water and some sharp shears.
  • After cutting, remove any leaves from the lower part of the stem. If leaves are under water in the bouquet, they'll rot. With roses, rub or clip off some of the thorns on the lower stem, too - they just make arranging difficult.
  • After removing foliage, put each flower stem into the bucket of warm water. Cut about an inch off the bottom of the stems while they are still under water to prevent "air-locking," the tiny bubbles that clog the stem's water-conducting passageways.
  • Use a clean vase. Leftover scum from previous bouquets interferes with water uptake.
  • Add some citric acid or commercial flower preservative to some water and then fill your clean vase. Add your cut flowers. Citric acid lowers the pH (increases the acidity) of the water, letting the stems take up water more easily. Some people say that adding some non-cola, soft drink or other product containing citric acid may also do the trick to keep blooms beautiful over time.
Author: Carol Savonen
Source: Barb Fick