Column: Flourishing Flowers: How to get the most of your bouquet


Commentary by Brian Davies

With one of the busiest floral holidays just around the corner, here are some proven tips and tricks that will extend the life of your cut flower arrangement.


Quality floral arrangements should last four to seven days or longer, depending on the flowers used and the care they receive from you, your florist and the farmer who grew them. Many cut flowers travel halfway around the world before even arriving to your local florist, so a trusted local florist is key.

Hydration is Life! Fresh, clean water should be added daily to the vase or floral foam. We recommend changing the water completely every three days or before if the flower food solution becomes cloudy. If possible, re-cut stems by removing 1 to 2 inches with a sharp knife. Be sure to use a sharp knife or clippers that will not crush the stems. Immediately place the stems into the solution. You should never use softened or well water for fresh-cut flowers. Salt in any form is not a friend to fresh flowers or plants and the minerals in well water will clog flower stems and stop them from drinking.

Flower stems can be visualized as millions of little straws wrapped together – if they begin to clog or are pinched, the flowers will stop drinking, thus shortening their life.

Hydrangeas are notorious for wilting even when cared for properly – if this happens, use a sharp knife to make a fresh cut, removing about an inch of the old stem, and place it immediately into fresh water; watch it come back to life in less than an hour. If it continues to wilt, you can submerge the entire bloom head and stem in water, re-cut the stem under water and keep it submerged for about 20 minutes or until it has rehydrated.  Many flowers can be saved with the same care.

Location, location, location! Keep fresh flowers in a cool spot (65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit) away from direct sunlight, heating or cooling vents and not directly under ceiling fans or on top of televisions or radiators. Heat = dehydration. Most flowers last longer under cool conditions.

Brian Davies owns of Zionsville Flower Company and teaches floral design at IUPUI. He can be reached at [email protected]