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How to Make Flowers Last Longer

The Best Way to Extend the Life of Flowers

Nothing freshens a room quite like a bouquet of flowers, but it's a bit depressing when they wilt after a couple of days. Sometimes prearranged blossoms come with a small packet of flower food, but what if it happens to be missing? And does it really make a difference? We put a few smart ideas to the test to see what really works and what doesn't when it comes to keeping flowers at their best.

It doesn't matter if you're arranging stems from the grocery store or fragrant blooms from a specialty flower shop, follow these directions before placing in your vase.

  1. Remove any leaves, small stems, or buds that might rest in the water. You want nice, clean stems that are trimmed of anything that might sit in the water and break down, discoloring the water.
  2. Trim the base of stems at an angle using a sharp knife or trimmer under running water.
  3. Wash your vase with hot, soapy water, and fully dry to remove any bacteria before filling with room-temperature water.

The whole reason behind the little green packet of flower food that comes with most prearranged floral arrangements is to help elongate the life of flowers by adding nutrients to the water. Instead of relying on that little magical powdered combo, we put three suggested home solutions to the test.

We split our flowers between four vases: one with just water, another with one-fourth teaspoon bleach per quart of water, another with one-half cup lemon-lime soda per quart of water, and the last with two tablespoons sugar and two tablespoons plain vinegar per quart of water. After positioning in a spot out of direct sunlight, all looked wonderfully fresh after the first day.

By day three, there was a distinct visual difference between the arrangements. All flowers had slightly changed color, and the bleach water was still wonderfully clear in the vase, but the edges of the flowers were darkening and slightly dry. Flowers in the vinegar and sugar water were just starting to wilt, with the lemon-lime soda flowers and the ones in plain water looking the best.

On day five, there was one distinct winner. The flowers that were simply soaking in water! The blooms were still mostly fresh and the water wonderfully clear in the vase.

Second place went to lemon-lime soda. The flowers stems were just starting to discolor and a few blooms weren't as fresh as the ones in plain water.

The flowers in vinegar and sugar were also starting to discolor at the stems with several blossoms seriously drooping and starting to drop petals.

And, with the most sadness overall, the bleach-water flowers had seen better days.

Do you have secret tips for making your fresh-cut flowers last longer? Do tell!

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