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The Trick To Bringing Dying Flowers Back To Life

- Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

There is hope.

There’s nothing like picking up a beautiful bouquet at Publix or your local florist for a dinner party, only to see that by the time dinner is served, the flowers look wilted, droopy, and downright sad, a far cry from the dramatic centerpiece you had envisioned. Luckily, there’s still hope for those flowers.

Cut flowers have a built-in shelf life, but exactly how long flowers last depends on the type of flower, how long ago it was cut, and how warm it is in your house. There are a few simple steps you can take to revive the blooms, at least for a little while.

First, to keep your flowers looking fresh as long as possible, make sure you keep the flowers cool. There is a reason florists often keep expensive flowers in a refrigerated storage unit —colder temperatures slow down the flowers’ break down. According to the pros at TeleFlora, the ideal temperature for preserving cut flowers is around 34 degrees, much cooler than most Southerners homes. That means if you want them to last until your dinner party or until you can hand them to a special someone, find a cool place to store them like a basement or a garage.

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Once you’re ready to display your flowers, make sure you put them in a vase out of direct sunlight and away from heating or cooling vents, because fresh-cut flowers do not like extreme temperatures.

Then, be sure to drain the water every few days, rinse the vase, and refill with clean lukewarm water. Before re-arranging the flowers, cut about an inch off the stem, on the diagonal to maximize water absorption. Only then are the flowers ready to go back in the vase.

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When newly- purchased flowers—or those you clipped from your own garden—start to wilt, chances are not enough water is able to get into the stems to keep the petals looking good. To help the water along, recut the stems using a very sharp knife or pair of scissors. Cut on an angle, about an inch from the bottom of the stem. Then, add three teaspoons of sugar or the packet of flower food that comes with many bouquets to a fresh batch of lukewarm water in the vase. Drop the flowers in and they should perk up. Be aware that there are certain flowers, like tulips, which don’t like lukewarm water, but this does the trick for most blooms. Give the flowers an hour or two and they should freshen up, at least long enough for your dinner party.

In case of a floral emergency, if the flowers are wilting, but aren’t losing their petals, the folks over at Lifehacker suggest submerging them in a big bowl or bucket of room temperature water for 30 minutes to an hour. While we haven’t tried this one ourselves, they claim this will jump-start the bloom’s revival.

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