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Prolonging Life for Cut Flowers

Our winter homes are not ideal environments for cut flowers to flourish in. Fortunately, there are still ways to make sure they have a long life

A single, orange flower in a red vase.

Photo: spring tree

Keep your cut flowers happy in your winter home by (for one) changing the vase water daily.

In winter, when northern homes are heated continuously and the air indoors dries out, it is often disappointing for us to find that the cut flowers we have purchased do not last well in a vase.

Of course, the flowers we buy may have been air freighted from another hemisphere or have languished too long in a store, which does not enhance their chances of a long vase life.

However, the dry air in our house may be robbing our flowers of their essential moisture, too.

Steps For Caring For Your Cut Flowers

Fortunately, there are ways to combat these factors that hinder the health of our houseplants:

  1. All cut flowers need to be able to take up a sufficient amount of water through their stems to remain well hydrated, so, change the vase water regularly (daily, if possible) in order to keep it clean
  2. Substances, such as bleach, can be added to the water to keep it free of bacteria.
  3. Each flower’s vascular cells help the stem to stand erect and they operate like a bundle of drinking straws, drawing water upwards to the leaves and flowers. If we strip away most of the leaves, especially those under water that pollute the vase, it helps each flower get more water.
  4. Additionally, when the arranger cuts an inch or so off the bottom of each stem before putting the flowers in a container, it helps to keep the end of the stems open. Put some water in a bowl and submerge the end of each stem so that it can be cut under water; this prevents air bubbles from forming. For example, when a rose wilts prematurely it usually means the end of the stem is clogged with bacteria or an air pocket has formed so that the rose’s stem cannot drink sufficiently. When this occurs one must submerge the entire flower in a sink of water to revive it and cut the stem again under water too.
  5. Never display flowers near a heating vent. Remember that heat is also emitted by electrical equipment so it is not smart to stand an arrangement on or near a TV or VCR.
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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