When you receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, a birthday, an anniversary, or simply because someone loves you, you want to make sure that you can enjoy them as long as possible. Unfortunately, fresh cut flowers don't last very long, but there are some things you can do to extend their life for at least a few days.

Here are five ways you can keep your flowers fresh for as long as possible, as well as some flower-care tips that will help with your blooms' longevity.

Flower Care Basics

fresh flower bouquet

Before you try one of the five tricks below to keep your flowers fresh for longer, Pro Flowers says there are general care guidelines you should always follow as soon as you receive your bouquet.

  • Cut the stems - Using garden shears, trim about one or two inches off your stems. To get better water intake, you want to make the cuts at an angle, so the stems don't sit flat at the bottom of the vase. You always want to re-trim your stems every few days.
  • Wash Your Vase - I don't get fresh flowers every day, so my vase tends to collect a little dust in between uses. So, when I do get a fresh bouquet, I wash my vase with hot water and a capful of bleach. Use a sponge to clean the vase, and let it dry naturally upside down instead of using a towel.
  • Prune - To prevent bacterial growth, remove all of the leaves below the water line. Not only will this make your flowers look better, but removing the guard petals on flowers that have them --- like roses --- will allow the flower to completely open up. You want to prune your flowers often because removing dead or loose leaves and petals will help you avoid bacterial rot.
  • Proper Hydration - You want to water your flowers wisely because they won't last long without it once you cut the stems. If your flowers have woody stems (like roses), they need a big drink, so fill your vase 2/3 full with tap water. For softer stems (like tulips), fill your vase just under the halfway mark with tap water. Also, allow the water to settle for a bit before adding your flowers so the larger air bubbles can escape, and water can reach room temperature. Flowers like warm water --- especially their first drink --- and they take it in more efficiently than cold. Plus, you don't want air bubbles getting stuck at the bottom of stems and interfering with their water intake.
  • Cool Temperatures - Flowers don't like heat, so don't display them in direct sunlight or near heat-generating appliances. Also avoid open windows, ceiling fans, or heating and cooling vents because they will cause quick dehydration. Don't display your bouquet near fruit, either, because ripening fruit releases ethylene gas and that can affect your arrangement's longevity.

Now that we know the basics, here are some creative ways to keep your flowers fresh for as long as possible.

1. Use Your Refrigerator

flowers in a refrigerator at a florist

Like we said earlier, flowers prefer cooler temperatures. So, use your refrigerator to make them last longer. At night time, place your bouquet in the fridge before you go to bed, and those low temps will help slow down the aging process. Just don't forget to take the bouquet out of the fridge in the morning, so that you can enjoy them.

Your bouquet will thrive when you use this method and will still look fresh and healthy after ten days.

2. Soda

Flowers love the sugar in soda, so pouring 1/4 cup of soda into the water in your vase will make the blooms last longer, plus they will smell sweeter. Of course, if you have a clear vase, you want to use a white soda like Sprite to keep the water clear.

Just like the refrigerator method, using soda will keep your flowers looking healthy and fresh for at least ten days.

3. Vodka and Sugar

flowers in a vase

Who knew I had so much in common with flowers? Just like me, they love the refrigerator and soda, and now it turns out they love vodka. When it comes to keeping cut flowers looking good, the secret is minimizing the growth of bacteria in the water. And, to make sure it gets the nourishment it would have gotten if it hadn't been cut.

One way to do this is to add a few drops of vodka --- or any clear spirit --- plus one teaspoon of sugar to the vase water, and that will make the perfect antibacterial mixture. While you can technically use any clear spirit, vodka seems to work best because of its effect on flowers. It has the ability to inhibit ethylene production (the gas that helps plants mature) and slow wilting.

With this method, make sure to change the water out every other day, and refresh the vodka and sugar.

4. A Penny

Pennies don't have much use these days, but they do come in handy when it comes to keeping your flowers fresh. Adding just one copper penny to the water in your vase will cause it to act as an acidifier and naturally fight bacteria growth.

By day four your blooms will open nicely and still have a strong color. After a week, the majority of your blooms should be fully open and looking beautiful. However, this method may result in the stems heading in random directions, and the flowers may wither quickly after an amazing week of blooming.

5. Flower Food

woman putting fresh flowers in a vase

One of the most proven methods of keeping flowers fresh, adding flower food to your vase will definitely keep your blooms fresh longer than if you just used plain water. The flower food contains a biocide that kills bacteria, plus it has an acidifier to help the stems drink water and sugar for nourishment.

On day one, mix one tablespoon into your water. Then, when you change out your water, don't forget to add the flower food again.

You can use this method by itself or in tandem with one of the four mentioned above. You can't go wrong with flower food, and you can find it at any florist shop.

No matter which trick or tip you use, make sure you check your flowers regularly. Ignoring them for more than three days can shorten their lifespan. You will want to make sure they have fresh water and are properly trimmed so they can stay healthy as long as possible.

And, if you notice cloudy water, change it out immediately. No matter how well you keep up with your cutting and flower food, bacteria will form and attach to the end of your stems. This will end up discoloring the water and it is the number one reason flowers die too soon.

Now that you know how to keep your flowers fresh for longer, go treat yourself to a bouquet. Or, drop some hints to your significant other. Either way, the next bouquet of fresh flowers you receive will last a lot longer now that you have these tricks up your sleeve.

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