How to Care for Floral Bouquets

You’ve just received a beautiful bouquet, or plucked one yourself from your own garden … Now What? If you’re the kind of person who really appreciates flowers, but are afraid they’re just die in your care… Take heart. We’re here to walk you through it, step by step.

1) Unpack the Bouquet. If your flowers came with plastic, take them out of the plastic as soon as possible.
2) Keep fresh flowers away from drafts and extreme temperatures, which can cause the flowers to dry out prematurely and cause wilting.
3) Do not place your arrangement near fruit or in the path of cigarette smoke. The ethylene gas is not good for many types of flowers.
4) Avoid placing the arrangements in windowsills and other areas that can get full sun. Flowers can overheat and wilt. The general rule of thumb is, the cooler the place the better.
5) Keep your vase filled with water. All stems should be submerged in water. Add fresh water daily, especially if your flowers came in a basket or secured in foam.
6) Check your arrangement daily for dead or wilting leaves and stems. If you have any, remove them immediately.
7) Watch your water. When it gets cloudy, it’s time to change it.

  • a) First, remove any dead or dying flower from the arrangement.
  • b) Clean the vase thoroughly with warm soapy water to remove any bacteria in the water, and rinse thoroughly.
  • c) Replace the water and mix in the flower preservative provided by your florist, according to the instructions on the packet. If you don’t have any more of the commercial preservative, you can make your own using any variety of household items. See the instructions at the bottom of this post.
  • d) For best results, cut stems with a sharp knife (not scissors) on an angle about one to two inches from the bottom under water (or under running water). Using scissors can crush the stems and prevent water absorption.
    – A word about water: If you live in an area with hard water, use demineralized water sold in supermarkets to fill steam irons to make your vase solutions. But you never want to use softened water in your vase solution, because the sodium is bad for the cut flowers. The water should be warm, but not too hot – around 100 degrees is perfect.
  • e) If you are using florist foam as an arranging aid, let it soak in the vase solution until it sinks. DO NOT PUSH IT DOWN because air bubbles will remain in the submerged foam and cause the flowers to die prematurely.

Creating your own flower preservative is quite easy. No matter what recipe you choose, the core principle remains the same: You need acid to improve water flow to the stems, sugar to help the buds open and last longer, and preservative to reduce the growth of bacteria and fungi.

Recipe 1. Mix 1 part lemon-lime (not diet) soda to 3 part water. Add ¼ teaspoon bleach per quart.

Recipe 2. Put 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or bottled “Real Lemon”, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and ¼ teaspoon bleach (Chlorox or similar) in a quart of warm water. Add ¼ teaspoon of bleach every 4 days to keep solution clear.

Recipe 3. Put 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ teaspoon bleach in a quart of warm water.