Fresh-cut flowers warm up any space and make your home feel like spring. But unless you have a green thumb, it’s not easy to keep bouquets alive. Our gardening pros reveal how to make indoor blooms last longer.
Perk up pretty petals with an overnight chill.
“The best way to extend the life of freshcut flowers is to refrigerate them overnight”, reveals Larry Hodgson, author of Houseplants for Dummies. Cold slows their growth, so they open more slowly. In fact, researchers tested how common additives like aspirin and Sprite compared to refrigeration, and they discovered that bouquets that were popped in the fridge overnight stayed fresh four days longer! “Just keep them away from ripening fruit—it emits ethylene gas that can shorten flower life.”
Feed and protect with a sugar solution.
To make a nourishing potion that fortifies flowers and fights bacteria at the same time, just combine 3 Tbs. of sugar (which flowers use for energy) with 2 Tbs. of white vinegar (a natural antibacterial) in 1 qt. of clean water. Notes Hodgson, “This DIY food is the closest to the ingredients in commercial flower preservatives”, which can extend the life of bouquets by a week or more.
Hydrate all flowers by cutting them at an angle.
Before putting bouquets in a vase, fill a bowl with water, then recut the bottoms of the stems at an angle while submerged. The angle helps maximize the surface area of the stem like a “super straw”, letting it take in more water.
Make garden blooms last by snipping in the morning.
When it comes to harvesting hyacinths, peonies and other showy blooms from your garden, timing is everything, declares Hodgson (LaidbackGardener.blog), who advises snipping them early in the morning, but after the dew has dried on them. “This is when the stems and flowers are richest in moisture and minerals, helping them stay healthy and last much longer.”
Keep tulips in top shape with a simple pin tuck.
The mascot of spring gardens, tulips are one of the most gorgeous yet delicate flowers, with soft stems that tend to bend once they’re cut. If your stems are more droopy than perky, poke a straight pin into the neck of each stem just below the petals, then pull it out. The hole will release trapped air, allowing water to flow up the stems, boosting blooms. Then simply pop them into ice water to prolong their life by up to one week.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.