How to Make a Perservative for Cut Flowers

Overview

Flowers cut fresh from the garden do not come with a packet of floral preservative. Fortunately, floral preservatives can be made at home using everyday ingredients. Preservatives provide food, slow the decaying process and increase acid levels, which helps the flowers take in water. Flowers store best when cut late in the day and with the stems left long. Immediately put the fresh-cut flowers into a bucket of 100 to 110º Fahrenheit water with preservative and leave for several hours. The exception is bulb flowers such as tulips and iris that must be put in cold water when cut. Recut flowers before arranging in vases filled with fresh preservative.

Soft drink

Step 1

Mix two cups regular lemon-lime soda with ½ tsp. bleach.

Step 2

Add two cups warm water and mix well. This is an ideal preservative for flowers such as gladioli that prefer a solution with a higher sugar content.

Step 3

Refresh this mixture with ¼ tsp. bleach every four days.

Vinegar and Bleach

Step 1

Combine two tbsp. white vinegar, ½ tsp. bleach and two tsp. sugar.

Step 2

Add the vinegar mixture to one quart of warm water and mix well.

Step 3

Preserve most fresh-cut flowers with this solution. It is especially useful for zinnias and coral bells that require preservatives containing lower sugar levels.

Lemon and Bleach

Step 1

Dissolve one tsp. sugar in one tsp. bleach and two tsp. lemon or lime juice.

Step 2

Pour the citrus/bleach fusion into one quart of warm water and stir.

Step 3

Substitute the vinegar/bleach solution with this formula that can be used to preserve many types of flowers.

Sugarless formula

Step 1

Delete the sugar from the vinegar/bleach or lemon/bleach mix.

Step 2

Prepare the remaining ingredients as instructed above.

Step 3

Use this formula for plants that do not require extra carbohydrates, such as chrysanthemums and china asters.

Wood alcohol

Step 1

Condition lilac blooms and flowering tree branches in a vessel filled with wood alcohol.

Step 2

Set the bucket of lilacs or branches and wood alcohol in a cool, draft-free space for one hour.

Step 3

Discard the wood alcohol, fill the bucket with cold water, add the plants and refrigerate the bucket of lilacs or branches overnight.

Wilting flowers

Step 1

Revive wilted blooms by recutting the stems and placing the blooms in a mixture of 0.35 to 0.5 grams of citric acid and one quart of warm water.

Step 2

Soak the flowers in the solution overnight in a cool, draft-free space.

Step 3

Transfer the blooms to a vase containing one of the above listed fresh flower preservative mixes.

Tips and Warnings

  • Chlorine bleach can discolor the stems of some flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • Refrigerator
  • Fresh cut flowers
  • Warm water, 100 to 110º Fahrenheit
  • Cold water
  • Lemon-lime soda
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Sugar
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Wood alcohol
  • Citric acid

References

  • University of Illinois: Horticulture Facts: Care of Cut Flowers and Foliage
  • University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County: Youth Gardening Fun: Tips for Displaying Cut Flowers
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Plants and Garden News, Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2003: Cut-Flower Care---How to Make Your Fresh-Cut Flowers Last
  • The L.W. Ramsey Advertising Agency: Your "How To" Guide for Cut Flowers
  • University of Massachusetts Extension: Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture: Fact Sheets: Sugar and Acidity in Preservative Solutions for Field-Grown Cut Flowers

Who Can Help

  • Blümgarten & Company: Cut Flower Care
Keywords: floral preservative, homemade floral preservative, fresh cut flowers, preserve fresh flowers