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University of Minnesota Extension

Fresh Cut Flower Care

Fresh Cut Flower Care

 By Katie Drewitz, University of Minnesota Extension 

PRESTON and CALEDONIA, Minn. (02/07/2023) — Valentine’s Day is a popular time to give and receive fresh cut flowers. Flowers bring a burst of color, and sometimes, fragrance into your surroundings. If you are given fresh cut flowers at any time of the year, there are a few tips to keep them beautiful as long as possible.

The lifespan of the flower is most affected by its ability to draw-up water, and the food supply of the flower. Wilting occurs when the flower is unable to take up enough water to replenish that lost through the stem, leaves, and flower. Air or bacteria can block the small openings in the vascular system from taking in the water.

The first step after receiving flowers that come in a box or sleeve, instead of a vase of water, is to remove any leaves that will be below the water line in the vase you choose. Leaves will rot and deteriorate in the water and make good conditions for bacteria and fungi which in turn will block the vascular system of the flower from continuing to uptake water. 

Recut the flower stems under water before placing and arranging them in the vase. Cut the stems at an angle using a sharp knife or scissors. Using a sharp tool will avoid crushing the vascular system and cutting at a slant will open more stem area for water absorption and prevent the stem from sitting flush on the bottom of the vase hindering water uptake. 

Use a clean vase, and rinse thoroughly before adding flowers. Fill the vase with warm (100°F) water and add the preservative packet if provided. The preservatives are a mixture of microorganism and respiratory inhibitors, and an energy source for the flowers. Home remedies such as adding aspirin or pennies to the water do not prolong the life of the flower.

Once you have made the perfect arrangement, place the flowers in a cool location out of direct sunlight, hot spots, or heat drafts to prolong their life. At night you may want to place the arrangement in a cool place or even the fridge to extend its life; temperatures must be above 35° F. However, flowers and fruit should not be stored together, apples produce ethylene gas that causes aging in flowers. Check the water level daily and replenish as needed. If the water becomes cloudy or leaves fall into the water, empty the vase, rinse, and replace with fresh warm water.

A little care can go a long way with cut flowers, so take care of your Valentine’s Day flowers and any other cut flowers you receive throughout the year to extend your enjoyment. For more information about this or any other agriculture, horticulture or natural resources question please reach out to your local Extension Educator. Residents in Fillmore and Houston counties can call 507-765-3896 or 507-725-5807 or email wins0115@umn.edu

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