Fresh flowers help brighten up the mood in any room. However, having a beautiful bouquet on the counter or by your desk can come at a high environmental cost. In the United States, 75 percent of flowers are imported. The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for growers and florists that significantly disrupted the industry. With many events and weddings canceled, many growers were forced to throw away the stems they were growing all season. About 400 million flowers were destroyed in the Netherlands in March alone.
The pandemic, however, prompted a positive movement called “slow flowers.” Similar to the slow food movement, growers and florists encourage purchasing flowers from local and sustainable places and choosing and seasonal flowers.
In addition to purchasing your flowers with an eco-conscious mind, you can try your best to extend the life of your bouquets for as long as possible to minimize waste. Whether you are growing flowers in your garden or purchasing your flowers from a local store, we want our flowers to last. Here are a few tips to do so.
- Always cut the stems before placing them in water. This allows the water to penetrate the stem. Using sharp scissors or pruning shears, cut about one inch from the bottom of each stem at a 45-degree-angle. This allows the stem from squishing and allows it to absorb more water. Be sure to cut the stems and change the water every few days.
- Cut back or pull off the extra leaves and foliage. Removing any leaves or foliage that will rest under the waterline of the container. This will decrease any bacteria in the water and keep the water clear and clean longer and free of foul odors. This will also help the flower focus its energy on the main bloom, keeping it alive longer.
- Fill your vase with cold water. Coldwater helps keep your flowers fresh longer. If you are trying to get your flowers to open, you can use warm water. Filling your vase two-thirds of the way is enough water for your flowers.
- Remove dying flowers. Cut flowers will eventually wilt, but that does not mean you need to throw out the whole bouquet. Removing blooms that are wilting and dying can reduce the spread of mold onto the pretty blooms.
- Use “flower food.” Most bouquets come with a small pack of food for your flowers. Use it. There are other tips online that suggest putting vinegar, pennies, soda, and other items into the vase. You can experiment with these additions and see what works for your flowers. Remember, bouquets respond to the environment they are in so it is important to find what works best for your flowers.
- Place your arrangement in the best spot. Try to place your flowers in a shaded, cool area that receives indirect sunlight. Cold temperatures help preserve the blooms. Also, be sure to keep cut flowers away from fruits in the kitchen or the table. Fruits and veggies give off ethylene gas, which contributes to flower wilting.
Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022