Flower Power: Tips for Maintaining Flowers on Board

19 March 2019 By Aileen Mack

No one can deny the beauty of flowers and how they can add life and color to just about any space. However, due to their nature, keeping them alive and looking fresh requires some knowledge and planning. It doesn’t take a green thumb (although it can’t hurt to develop one) but understanding some basic tactics can help your arrangements last a little bit longer.

Before you place the flowers in water, trim your bouquet at a 45-degree angle to help the bottom of the plants suck up the most water, says Amy Kreft, manager of sales, marketing and social media development at Dianthus Miami.

This one may seem obvious, but water the flowers upon receiving them and water daily, twice if possible. Delia Nara, co-owner of Yacht Flowers in Fort Lauderdale, mentions that when you change or add water, add flower food. “Cut flowers will need nutrition to last/maintain; therefore, we need to feed them,” she says. Kreft explains the food will keep your fresh flowers longer because a packet of flower food contains sugar to feed the flowers, bleach (or something similar) to keep bacteria from growing, and acid to lower the pH of the water so the flowers can “eat” more effectively. For arrangements, change the water every other day to keep it fresh, and make sure there are no leaves floating in the water, which will grow bacteria. Filtered water is better for both plants and flowers, but Nara says it isn’t necessary.

Kreft wants to debunk some myths that just don’t work well. Some add pennies to the bottom of the vase claiming the copper in the pennies inhibits bacteria growth, but the copper in a penny isn’t soluble so it won’t transfer from the penny to the flowers. Putting aspirin in the water doesn’t help either — Real Simple tested this and the flowers died quicker. But adding bleach can prevent bacteria from growing in the vase, but the trick is not adding too much, Kreft says. Anything more than a couple drops will bleach your stems a sickly white.

Keep the flowers away from direct sunlight, draft, and any heat source because heat will burn or shock the flowers into the wilt stage faster and a draft will dry out the moisture quicker. Nara suggests getting some loose stems in case to replace the wilted ones. Kreft also recommends keeping your arrangements away from ripening fruit because they will cause the flowers to bloom faster.

Make sure the vase is clean and wash with soap each time. As floral/greenery or any organic material deteriorates, microbes start to grow. “In this process, bacteria will produce ethylene gas and age cut flowers faster,” Nara says. “You know that funky smell from water in old vase? That is a sign of bacteria growth.” Keeping things clean always helps flowers last.

Using good quality, long-lasting flowers makes a difference to your onboard arrangements. Some flowers are naturally stronger than others, such as the orchid/dianthus family. Nara likes Cymbidium orchids, which can last up to one and a half weeks or longer.

While no flower will stay fresh and blooming forever, these tips and tricks will help you optimize a flower’s longevity — and add a dash of color and more visual interest to interior spaces.