7 Tips for Making Fresh Cut Flowers Last

Written By Cathy Barnhardt

Posted 02/03/15

Updated 02/03/15

For the Home

Cathy Barnhardt, Floral Displays Manager, has spent 35 years at Biltmore and is nationally known for her work. She began her career in the estate’s greenhouse, but now handles everything “Christmas at Biltmore.” With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Cathy shared some tips and tricks she has used over the years to make floral arrangements last as long as possible.

1. Be sure that there is no foliage below the water level of the vase or pushed into a block of floral foam. Soft tissues will decompose quickly and foul the water. Some flowers such as gypsophilia (baby’s breath), or snapdragons decompose very rapidly and require fresh water daily. The water in a vase should be clear, never cloudy, which indicates bacterial growth.

2. Change the water daily if possible for the greatest vase life of your materials. If it is not feasible to change the water daily, then it is important that you check the arrangement frequently and “top off” the water. The woodier stemmed and hollow stemmed materials are generally the heaviest drinkers, and should be checked daily.

3. Direct sunlight and heat or drafts will shorten the life of your arrangement. Place arrangements with this in mind. 

4. Don’t put your arrangement in a heavily air conditioned room to “keep it fresh.” The air conditioning can dehydrate the materials.

5. Do not mist arrangements in place. Misting can cause some flowers to wilt as it draws the moisture from within the petals to the surface where it evaporates. Misting may cause spots on some blossoms and will certainly damage furniture finishes, paint, or woodworking.

6. Pinch off faded or wilted blooms to encourage newer ones to open.

7. If a flower wilts, you may try filling the sink with warm (not hot) water, submerge the entire flower briefly and then re-cut the stems under water.  Leave the flowers standing in the warm water for half an hour, and then rearrange in cool water.

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