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Flower Care 101 - How to care for your bouquet

Flower Care101

Do you like your flowers?

Good, you are in the right place!

Do you want to make sure they last as long as possible?

Here are some tips that every floral professional uses – you might not want all this added responsibility but these best practices are sure to keep your flowers alive and looking beautiful for at least five days longer:

1. Flowers Need Water

No, I don’t think you are an idiot. It’s just easy to forget when you are distracted by your everyday life! Be sure to check the water level every day and fill your vase to about ¾ full. Be noted, most florists fill their vases only half way so there is no spillage during transport.

2. Stagnant Water

Stagnant water needs to be changed for fresh water every two or three days. Once flowers are cut they immediately start to spoil, just like a vegetable will start its shelf life as soon as it is cut from its branch or vine. Flowers begin to deteriorate from the cut stem in water, and exude ethylene gas into the water and the bloom starts decaying exponentially faster from the first point.

Best practice is to replace the water as often as possible and trim at least one half inch off the stem, freshly cut stems absorb water and will no longer have a blockage due to ethylene gas.

3. Water Temperature

Professional florists use lukewarm water to condition their cut flowers. The water temperature we use is generally between 100°F and 120°F. There is one condition – if the flowers are of the bulb variety (tulips, hyacinth, etc) and exude a milky texture when freshly cut, they should be conditioned in cold water.

If the goal is to get water to the blooms as quickly as possible, it makes sense to use warm water because molecules move faster at a higher temperature.

4. Flower Preservatives

Flower preservatives increase the life of cut flowers, and every florist uses preservatives in caring for their flowers. Most florists also call it cocaine, although not to be confused because it contains bleach and would kill you in an instant! The three components of flower preservative are carbohydrates, biocides and acidifiers. The carbohydrates give the flower the nutrients it needs to stay upright and fresh. Biocides kill that pesky ethylene gas, but not completely. Acidifiers ensure a correct PH level.

Flowers, when planted, get all of these benefits from the soil and their roots – carbohydrates and acidity are drawn from the soil and the roots are the filters that block bad bacteria.

The After Hours Flowers always includes flower preservatives with your flowers, already dissolved in the water. You can buy small packets of flower preservative at any florist supply store or you can make homemade preservative, which is nearly as effective.

To make home-made flower preservative, include: 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon bleach, 2 teaspoons lime/lemon juice, 1 qt warm water (between 100°F and 120°F). Make sure to add preservatives every time you replace the water.

5. Preparation of Different Stem Types

There are five different kinds of stems for flowers: Solid, Hollow, Soft, Woody and Milky.

Solid stems should be cut at a diagonal angle and placed in lukewarm water for best results.

Hollow stems should be turned upside down and filled with lukewarm water. Plug the hole in the bottom of the stem with your finger and place into the vase water. This will ensure your hollow-stemmed flower stays upright and continues to bloom.

Soft stems typical in bulb plants should be cut diagonally at the level where the stem color changes from white to green and placed in cold water.

Woody stems or blossoms should be smashed with a hammer or crushed with a pair of pliers before being placed in lukewarm water.

Milky stems should be seared on a stovetop before being mixed with other non-milky stem flowers. This goo that is excreted can clog the stems of other flowers in the vase and reduce the life of its fellow flowers.

6. Browning Petals

Petals should be maintained as well as water quality and stem conditioning. If you see a browning or folded petal, remove it immediately. Rotting petals also exude ethylene gas and should be removed as soon as possible to ensure the longevity of the rest of the bloom.

7. Limp Flowers

Limp flowers are not drinking efficiently and need to be cut again, for best water flow cut the stem completely under water. This way, air bubbles cannot block passage to your already sad bloom.

8. Climate and Conditions

Never place your floral bouquet atop your heater or in direct sunlight. Heat dries out flowers and they will die quickly. The best location for your bouquet is in a shaded, cool place. We keep our flowers in a refrigerated climate of 38°F, the ideal temperature for cut flower longevity.


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