As a grower and designer of seasonal flowers, the topic of how to make your flowers last a long time is a popular one I get asked about all the time. When you buy locally grown flowers, you are getting blooms that were cut at most 2-3 days before you get them. This ensures that you are going to get the most enjoyment out of each bloom, often a few days longer than the life of a bloom in the garden. Buying local also gives you options for flowers that would not otherwise be available at a local florist like Iceland poppies and dahlias. Local flowers are fresh, have not flown on an airplane, and provide unique options for flower lovers.
But I find that many people are conditioned to flowers from the grocery store or florist that last 2-3 weeks in the vase. Keep in mind that these flowers have likely had a very different journey, have been treated with multiple preservatives, fungicides, and even pesticides to ensure they can clear customs and survive. There is also a limitation to the type of flowers that can be produced commercially and last long enough to make it into your vase. If you would like to learn more about "Slow Flowers", click here for an in-depth essay about the local flower movement sweeping the United States.
My hope is to teach customers that flowers are still very much living things meant to be enjoyed, from bud to open bloom (and sometimes beyond) and still need some care. These flowers have been cut off from their energy and nutrient supply and are just trying to finish what they are programmed to do. Usually after 7 days your bouquet will start to look pretty shabby. But don't throw the baby out with the bath water! You can get more life out of your flowers with a 5-minute edit.
Here are a few quick tips to edit your seasonal bouquet and make it last:
1. Keep your water, vase, AND stems clean from Day 1. Clip 1-2 inches off of your stems and place into clean water every 2-3 days and/or use preservative. If you don't want to drink the water - your flowers can't either. Bacteria clog stems and dirty the water.
2. When you bouquet is starting to look sad, like our week-old farmers market bouquet (right), it is time to edit. Take the whole bouquet out of the water and take out any flowers that still look good with firm stems. In this case, I kept the lamb's ear (grey fuzzy filler), red ranunculus, pink sweet william, purple centaurus, and even the poppy seed pod. Everything else goes in the compost.
3. Find a smaller vase and fill with fresh water. Trim stems to fit new vase and be sure to take off any leaves that would be underwater - they will just feed the bacteria and rot. Gently pull off any leaves or petals that are dried or damaged - these ranunculus will still open some more and last another 3-5 days. I also pulled the white petals off the centaurus because I like the purple center.
4. Voilà! The photo below shows that a little editing goes a long way to make a new life for an old bouquet.