Preserving cut floral arrangements lets you get the most out of your flowers and reduces the cost of purchasing fresh cut flowers. The flowers need water in order to live, and they draw water from a vase through the cut stem. If you add plant food to the vase, the flowers absorb it with the water, gaining nutrients to extend flower life. Plants rely on sucrose for food and an acidifier to inhibit bacterial growth. Use only one item containing sucrose and one item as the acidifier when preparing your water solution to fill a vase.
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Feed your flowers sugar, which is pure sucrose, to extend the life of your blooms. Table-variety, white granulated sugar is all you need. Prepare a sugar food solution by dissolving 3 tbsp of sugar in 1 quart of warm water for your vase. Using warm water helps the sugar to dissolve so your flowers receive the most food possible. Be sure to change the water often and add sugar to each batch of fresh water.
Lemon juice, when used as plant food, works as an acidifier to stop bacterial growth. Bacteria in the water rapidly increases the rate of plant decay, leading to dead blooms in as little as a day. You can use fresh-squeezed lemon juice or bottled lemon juice to feed your flowers. Add 2 tbsp of lemon juice to 1 quart of water along with your sugar solution. If your flower arrangement is big on beauty, but lacks in fragrance, the lemon scent will be a welcome addition to your room.
The addition of vinegar as a plant food to a vase of fresh water with a sucrose solution can extend the life of your flowers by several days. Vinegar is an acid and antibacterial agent that will cut down on bacteria in the water. You can use white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar. White distilled vinegar is the best option in a clear vase because apple cider vinegar will change the water colour. Stir 2 tbsp of vinegar into a sucrose-rich water solution.
Clear soda can be added to your cut flower arrangement to preserve the flowers. You should only use clear, lemon-lime soda. Soda is full of sucrose with its high sugar content, making it ideal as plant food. Lemon-lime soda has the added benefit of containing lemon juice, which helps to reduce bacterial growth. Add about 1/4 of a 354ml. can of soda to a 1-quart flower vase. This is a clever way to make use of a soda can left open on the counter that has turned flat.
Bleach is not actually food for flowers, but when used in small amounts, it works with flower food to prevent bacterial growth. Add about 1/4 tsp to a 1-quart vase of water that contains some clear soda or dissolved sugar. This might not be ideal for clear vases, however, because the bleach can turn the green flower stems white.
Commercial Flower Food
Commercial flower food packets are provided by florists with the purchase of a fresh cut floral bouquet. You can purchase commercial flower food from your florist or find them at craft stores and in the garden section of your home improvement store. Commercial flower food contains a mixture of sucrose and acidifiers to feed your plant and prevent bacterial growth. Read package instructions carefully so you add the right amount to your flower vase. Add more food each time you change the water.
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- "Woman's Day"; How to Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer; Carly Orleach; February 2010
- "Scientific American"; Fact or Fiction?: Vodka and Citrus Sodas Keep Cut Flowes Fresh; Ciara Curtin; February 2007
- Purdue University Department of Horticulture; Add Hours to Your Flowers; Michael N. Dana and B. Rosie Lerner
- Plantea: How to Preserve Fresh Cut Flower--Naturally; Marion Owen
- "Reader's Digest"; 8 Ways to Make Flowers Last Long