Cut flowers create a bright, cheerful spot in any part of your home, but they tend to wilt quickly and all too soon end up discarded. One way to help your flowers last longer is to follow a few basic steps, such as trimming their stems under water to keep the air out and using a clean vase to eliminate bacteria. Adding lemon to the water in the vase can also help to prolong their beauty.
Why It Works
Bacterial growth is one of the factors that contributes to flower stems decomposing. The water begins to cloud and smell bad and the flowers quickly wilt. Adding lemon juice helps to increase the acidity of the water in the vase, which works with bleach to deter bacteria. The acidity of the lemon juice also increases the flow of water -- and thus, nutrients -- through the stems. With the increased supply of water and nutrients to the flowers and without the presence of bacteria to rot the stems, blooms last much longer.
What to Do
To get the best results with your cut flowers, the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County recommend putting them in a solution made of water, lemon juice, sugar and bleach.
Things You'll Need
- 1 quart warm water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon bleach
- Clean vase
- Start with warm tap water. If your water is very hard or if you use a water softener, buy water that has been demineralized, such as distilled water, which you can get at most stores.
- Add the lemon juice, either fresh-squeezed or from a bottle.
- Mix in the sugar to act as food for your flowers.
- Carefully stir in the household bleach, which further aids in retarding the growth of bacteria.
- Pour this mixture into a clean vase and add flowers.
If you don’t have any lemons or lemon juice on hand, make a solution with three parts warm water and one part lemon-lime soda. Don’t use diet soda, since that won’t provide any nutrition for your flowers -- they need the sugar found in regular soda as a source of nutrients. Add 1/4 teaspoon bleach to the solution and it’s ready to use.
When to Change the Water
Keep an eye on the water in the vase. Add new solution as the level in the vase decreases. Stir in another 1/4 teaspoon of bleach every few days. If the water turns cloudy or if you notice a bad smell, you need to take action right away. Dump out the water, wash the vase in hot soapy water, rinse the flower stems that have been in the water, cut off the ends of the stems and start again with fresh solution.