This story is part of Try this oneCNET’s collection of simple tips to quickly improve your life.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are from the time I went to the farmers market and brought home a bouquet of sunflowers. I continued this tradition in adulthood by keeping fresh sunflowers around my apartment, but even after years of buying flowers every week, I still get sad when the petals start to curl, turn brown and fall, signaling that it’s time to pick them. discards.

Whether you bought flowers for yourself from a local supermarket or received a special bouquet to celebrate your graduation or Mother’s Dayyou will want to prolong the life of these flowers as long as possible.

I spoke with two experts to gather easy tips that will help you buy the freshest flowers and keep blooming longer. I will also share common myths that gardeners say just don’t work. For more tips, here’s how remove the avocado from the stone without shaking your hand and how to bake the cake in a cup.

Read also: Best flower delivery for Mother’s Day

What to look for in cut flowers

You are in the store, ready to buy flowers for yourself or for a special person, but which bouquet to choose from the dozens on the stand? Believe it or not, this decision can affect the longevity of the flowers you buy.

Joe Guja, owner of JP Designs Floral based in Santa Maria, California, has been working in the floral industry for more than 45 years. He told me that many flowers are sourced from Ecuador or California, so it is important to look carefully at each stem and leaf to make sure you are not buying flowers that are older or have been damaged during transportation.

Then, after pulling the bushel out of the display, check that the water is clean and the leaves are not yellow, stained or drooping. You will also want to make sure that the stems are not slimy or broken. Lucy BradleyProfessor of Horticulture for Consumers and Communities in North Carolina State Universitytold me you should check for fuzzy gray mold and drooping, damaged petals.

“Extend the life of the vase by choosing flowers that are just beginning to open,” Bradley said. “For roses and other single flowers, choose flowers that have only one petal unfolded. For gladiolus and other flowers with thorns, choose stems with only the first two or three open flowers. For daisy flowers, such as sunflowers, choose flowers with centers that are still green. “

Vase with yellow, orange and white flowers.

Clean water is the key to prolonging the life of your floral arrangement.

David Watsky / CNET

Tips for cut flowers that will really work

Although there are a lot of myths about caring for flowers, Gudja and Bradley have broken some tricks that are guaranteed to work.

Change the water – and do it often

Adding fresh, lukewarm water to a clean vase is a sure way to keep flowers healthy longer.

“The key for people who receive vases is to change the water as often as possible,” Guja said. “If they just last the whole group, pour out the water and add fresh water and return the arrangement that will keep them for days, days and days.”

Why? Bradley explained that simply disposing of water will get rid of all the bacteria growing in the water in the vase that can clog the flower’s stem, preventing water intake.

Trim the edges

Both Gudja and Bradley agreed that cutting the stems of the bunches as soon as you brought them home was the key to longevity. But don’t even think about reaching for those dumb kitchen scissors!

Bradley said the best practice is to take a sharp knife or scissors to prune the flowers to prevent damage to the stem and reduce its ability to absorb water. First wipe the tool with alcohol and then carefully make fresh cuts on all stems at a 45-degree angle at least half an inch from the end of the stem.

Cutting at an angle means that most of the base of the stem is outside the bottom of the vase. It removes clogged tissue that no longer transports water to the flower, Bradley said.

Add pennies, but pay attention to his age

You’ve probably heard of the penny method, or maybe you’ve already tried to throw a penny in your vase of water and flowers. But before you dig into the bottom of your bag or jeans pocket, you should know that only pennies cut before 1982 will work. These are the ones with the natural antimicrobial properties that come from copper.

“Originally, the pennies contained honey, which is a fungicide that prevents disease,” Bradley said. “However, pennies are already made mostly of zinc, so they are no longer effective.”

Vase with flowers on the table.

Be sure to prune the stems before putting your flowers back in the water.


Some cut flower tips don’t really work

When it comes to caring for flowers, there will be a debate about which methods work and which don’t. You may have tried some in the past – there is no judgment here! However, the experts I spoke to shattered some of the biggest myths when it comes to keeping cut flowers fresher for longer.

Add sugar to the flower vase?

If you paid attention to a science class in high school, then you may remember that flowers benefit from the sugars produced by photosynthesis. But this is especially true when the flower or leaves are still attached to the plant, so think twice before disposing of the entire Sprite in the water in your vase.

Bradley explained that sometimes adding a teaspoon and a half of sugar per liter of water or using half a water and half a soda with lemon and lime in the water in the vase can act as a plant food to prolong flowering, but none is as effective. as much as commercial flowers. preservative.

Floral preservatives are those little packets that often come with your floral arrangement. They often contain sucrose and a biocide – an antibacterial agent – which gives energy to the flower, helps the stems absorb more water and prevents the growth of bacteria.

Does bleach help flowers stay fresher?

As the saying goes, a little goes a long way when it comes to bleach. Bradley explained that a few drops of bleach (1 teaspoon per gallon of water) can help kill bacteria and fungi, but adding too much – which is too easy – will also kill plant cells.

Can vodka, vinegar or aspirin prolong the life of your flowers?

There are many, many tricks on the Internet on how to keep cut flowers longer with vinegar, aspirin, vodka – you can call it. And while these methods may work on a case-by-case basis, our experts do not recommend these tricks, as they are based on anecdotal evidence and not supported by science.

“As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t do any of these things, because in most cases the arrangement will be a mixture of types of flowers that may be susceptible to not accept anything you put in the water,” Guja said. . “Keeping the water clean is the best thing.”

Looking for more fun tips for Mother’s Day? Take a look at ours recommendations for the best gifts for Mother’s Day and ours overview of the best gifts for Mother’s Day when you can’t celebrate in person.

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