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Conditioning Cut Flowers: Making Them Last Longer

Make sure you follow certain steps so that your cut flowers last in your home until the end of winter.

a group of bouquets of yellow cut roses.

Photo: niznoz

There are certain steps to take in order for cut flowers to last indoors in winter.

All of us who want to have flowers in our homes want them to last as long as possible. There are certain steps to take to ensure that they last as long as possible.

  1. To begin, at this time of year, the flowers that we buy have often been in cool storage before we bring them into our heated homes.  They will need some time to adjust before we arrange them.
  2. If possible, cut their stems and stand them in water in a cool place so they get a good drink before you arrange them.
  3. Remove all of the lower leaves so no foliage is submerged.  This keeps the water clean.  Florists provide packets of powder for this purpose.  However, a dash of household bleach in the water also retards the development of bacteria.
  4. Flowers with woody stems take up water more easily if the bottom inch of the stem is crushed with a hammer.  Flowers that produce milky sap when the stems are cut taint the water, depriving the flowers of nutrients and this causes them to wilt quickly.  Singe these stems with a flame to seal the stem to prevent seepage.  They will still be able to take up water.
  5. Flowers that have prominent stamens, especially lilies, will last longer if the heavy pollen tips are snipped off.  Be careful during the removal because pollen stains clothing.
  6. After you arrange the flowers in a vase keep them out of direct sunlight and change the water frequently.
Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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