The Q&A Archives: Preserving Cut Flowers

Question: How should flowers such as zinnias, dahlias, hydrangeas be conditioned as cut flowers? Some of them last awhile in vases, but most times the flowers deteriorate in a short time. I believe some flowers need to be put in warm water at first, but which ones? And then what? Some hydrangeas last and even dry in the vase of water, and others just wilt. Why?

Answer: Once cut, flowers can't handle being in sun, prefering dispersed light, preferably in a cool location. Here are a few pointers for cut flower preservation:

1. Harvest just before the flower peaks.
2. Harvest in the morning, if possible.
3. Use a sharp tool to make a clean, slanted cut.
4. Immediately place stems in water.
5. Recut stems under water just before you arrange them in a vase.
6. Keep flowers in a cool area, but not in drafts.
7. Use a floral preservative, or make your own with 1 pint of regular 7-Up or Sprite (not diet) mixed with an equal volume of water with a teaspoon of household bleach, OR 1 quart of water with 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon or lime juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of household bleach.
8. Use warm water in the vase.

I hope this info helps!

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