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10 Tips for Long-Lasting Floral Arrangments

1. Floral preservative prolong vase life by 50%. Have it ready before harvesting blooms so that stems can be placed as they are cut. James Johnson, (Benz School of Floral Design) recommends mixing 2 cups of warm water, 2 cups of Sprite/7-Up and 1 teaspoon of yellow Listerine mouthwash.

2. Always recut stems underwater on a slant after harvesting. Slanted stems take up more water.

3. Roses with thick petals make the best cut flowers. Harvest blooms at the right stage of development. Cut blooms with:

  • 60 - 90 petals – when three to four of the outer petals have separated from the bud

  • 30 - 40 petals - when one or two of the outer petals have separated

  • 20 petals or less - when the petal color is just beginning to show. These have the shortest vase life.

4. Bacteria in vase solution shortens the life of flowers so remove any foliage that may be underwater. Containers should be squeaky clean and sanitized with a 50/50 mix of bleach and water and allowed to air dry. Change out the vase solution every 3rd day.

5. The finished height of the arrangement should be one and one-half times the height of the container.

6. Some plant material can last up to 10 days in a vase if prepared properly (heavily petaled roses, Oriental lilies, carnations, alstroemaria).

7. Use wettable floral foam. Properly wet the foam by floating the foam block in a bucket of water. When the block sinks it is totally saturated. Floral foam can hold up to 2 quarts of water.

8. Consider combining fruits and vegetables in the arrangement. Use wooden barbecue skewers to secure them in place.

9. Fully hydrate (minimum 4 hours) freshly cut flowers before using. Purchased flowers should have the bottom inch of stem removed and allowed to hydrate for 1 - 2 hours).

10. Anything that will hold water can be a container. I keep a supply of painted green bean cans on hand for quick give-away arrangements.


Gaye Hammond is a member of the Houston Rose Society, a lifetime member of the American Rose Society and a Master Consulting Rosarian. She recently received the Whitaker Award for her contributions to the ARS.

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