Text by Hannah Jones
We’ve all been there: you receive a beautiful bouquet or treat yourself to one and then, much to your dismay, your gorgeous florals turn into a wilted mess by day two. It almost makes purchasing flowers not worth the time or money, but there are ways to maintain your blossoms so they’ll last for weeks! We chatted with third-generation, award-winning florist Joanne LaVassar, co-owner of LaVassar Florists in Seattle, Washington, and floral designer on BloomNation, to get the best tips for keeping your cut flowers happy and healthy.
Typically, how long can you expect cut flowers to last in a vase?
Cut flowers on average can last five to seven days in a vase. It varies depending on the type of flower, how mature the bloom is, and how it is maintained. The longevity of a cut flower starts with the way in which it is initially cared for by the florists. Each flower, green, and filler has specific care needs to ensure that you get a long-lasting arrangement. The buying, inspecting, and initial care of the flowers will determine the life of the flower. Take Valentine’s Day, for instance; our flowers typically start arriving the week before. Our crew processes each flower to their specific needs before they are stored in coolers. Once we select the flowers for orders, we only remove the flowers that are needed. This way we can keep the remaining flowers in the cooler at optimal temperature and lighting for lasting success.
What are some things you can do to make cut flowers last longer?
The number one thing any recipient can do to keep their arrangements longer is to water daily. If the water drops below the stems, they seal closed and will not be able to draw water—just like an apple once it is cut forms the browning on the flesh to protect the sweet fruit. If the flowers are designed in a clear vase and are able to be removed, I recommended removing them from the vase, clipping the stems, pouring out the old water, cleaning the vase, adding fresh water and then replacing the flowers back into the vase. This not only adds time to the life of your flowers, but the flowers often improve with a fresh drink, and the overall bouquet improves because the water is clear again. The easiest method would be to transfer the arrangement between two vases, sterilize the other vase, and replace with clean, fresh water.
I have heard that you can make hydrangeas last longer by pressing the cut tips into allium powder and/or sticking the newly cut tip of a wilted hydrangea into boiling water. Do you know if any of these tips are true?
Yes, both options work! I cut the stem and dip the tip into the allium powder (meat tenderizer); it will keep the stem open and able to draw water longer so the flower lasts longer. Also really warm water (not boiling) helps the bloom rehydrate.
Are there any species of flowers that definitely last longer after being cut?
There are definitely varieties of flowers that last longer, such as carnations, chrysanthemums, alstroemeria (delicate but long lasting), bells of Ireland, and tropicals.
On the contrary, are there any that don’t?
There are flowers that don’t last but are worth it—often delicately beautiful. Varieties, such as iris, stock, daffodils, delphinium, dahlias, anemones, are often the most requested, due to their fragility and beauty, and they are lovely arranged in an assortment with hardier flowers. Once the flower dies, remove it, and you will still have a beautiful bouquet.
Do you recommend using flower food for cut flowers?
I recommend using flower food for most flowers. Some flowers, such as exotics and some lilies, do not thrive with additives. If the vase is new, then it is not necessary. If the vase has been used previously and not sterilized, then the bacteria is already present, and flowers will need flower food to combat it. It will keep the water cleaner longer, which will help flowers last longer. Transferring flowers from a used vase into a sterilized vase with fresh water is one of the best ways to extend the life of your cut flowers. Over the 52 years that LaVassar Florists has been designing, we have tried many different methods to perfect lasting designs. From each tip or trick that we have tried, we have found that sterilizing vases and adding clean lukewarm water outperform any other additive or trick.
About Joanne: Joanne is co-owner of LaVassar Florists and is a third-generation florist herself. What started in her family’s basement 52 years ago has now turned into a thriving, acclaimed family business in Seattle, Washington. Joanne has won awards for her work, which spans from weddings and events to daily designs.