Cut flowers add life to any room and can be a colorful expression of your feelings as a gift. Once they're cut from their host plant, flowers quickly begin losing their natural vigor. Several management tips and strategies can improve the life expectancy of cut flowers, keeping their foliage perky and their colors vibrant for days of enjoyment.
The timing of the flower's removal from the host plant can affect the life of the cut flower. For the best results, cut flowers in the evening after they have had an entire day to store food, according to the University of Illinois.
When cut flowers aren't being displayed, store them in cool temperatures ranging between 40 degrees F and 50 degrees F, such as inside your refrigerator. This reduces heat stress and can prolong the flowers' life.
Most floral shops and some garden stores sell cut flower food designed to be mixed with the water in the floral arrangement's vase. The powder or granules provide the flowers with the vitamins and nutrients they would otherwise receive from their host plants, helping to improve and maintain the floral arrangement's color and reduce wilting. If the stores in your area don't sell such products, the University of Illinois suggests adding 2 tsp. of sugar, 1/2 tbsp. bleach and 1/4 tbsp. alum for every quart of water in the vase.
Cut flowers benefit from humid air, which helps keep foliage and fragile petals hydrated. Typically, indoor air lacks humidity, especially if it's cooled or heated. Spraying the cut flowers in the morning and afternoon with an even mist of water can help increase the humidity in the flowers' immediate vicinity.
Revive drooping cut flowers and improve the life of freshly cut flowers by conditioning them. Fill a bucket with water that's been heated to 100 degrees F--this is the ideal temperature for water absorption by the flowers, according to the University of Illinois--and immerse the cut flowers completely in the water. Let them soak for 60 minutes, during which time the stems, leaves and petals of the flowers will absorb water and perk up.
Over time, the ends of the cut flower's stems will seal up. This reduces water absorption and hastens the wilting of the flower. Every couple of days, use a sharp knife or pruning shears and trim off 1/4 inch of the stem's end.