how to make your flowers last longer

words by Caylin Harris | photo by Jennifer Johnson


There’s something really special about a fresh bouquet of flowers and with Mother’s Day around the corner, we wanted to know how to best preserve our blooms for as long as possible. It turns out how and where your flowers are harvested is the biggest key to long lasting arrangements. We spoke with Phoebe Poole, flower farmer and designer at Weatherlow Florals in Westport, MA, for more tips on extending the life of your blooms.

from your garden:
For the most part you want to harvest flowers before their fully open. Hydrangea should be cut when half or more of the florets have opened. With tulips, cut them when the bud is just starting to show color but before the petals have separated. Peonies are best harvested in marshmallow stage—gently squeeze the bud and cut them when it’s quite soft (like the texture of a marshmallow) not when the bud is still hard. Delphinium, should be cut when the florets on the bottom third of the spikes are open.

from your local flower farmer/market:
Talk to them, ask them what’s in season, what’s best right now, and what was harvested most recently. Resist your urge to buy the showiest bouquet and look for flowers that aren’t fully opened yet instead, they’ll last longer.

flowers of unknown origins:
Look for things that aren’t fully open with fresh petals that aren’t curled or wilted on the edges. In a pre-wrapped bouquet, do a little detective work to make sure there isn’t any rot anywhere. If possible buy flowers by the stem instead, choosing ones that are familiar and in season.

clean containers:
Germs can quickly accumulate in the bottom of your vases so be sure to clean them thoroughly after each use. Use a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water, allowing it sit for a few hours. Afterwards, clean thoroughly with a scrub brush, some hot water, and soap.

give flowers a fresh cut:
You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s worth repeating. You need to use sharp shears to recut the bottoms of each flower. You always want to cut the bottom of the stems at an angle, and while it might seem trivial, this cut allows the stems to soak up more water.

keep the water clean:
When you first put the flowers into the vase, remove any leaves that will sit below the water line. You just want the bare stems in the water; the leaves rot and create bacteria that will kill your flowers faster. Then change the water every other day to keep it clean. Take that opportunity to pull out any dead elements and rearrange the flowers to create a whole new look.

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