Q&A: Should I Use Floral Preservative?

When I buy flowers at the market or florist, they come with a little packet of preservative. Should I use preservative for the bouquets I cut from my garden?

Answer: It’s a good idea. Floral preservative is not just for store-bought flowers. Its purpose is to lengthen the life of any arrangement by feeding the flowers and preventing bacterial growth in the water. Most floral preservatives contain some form of sugar, an antibacterial agent and something to make the water acidic.

The sugar feeds the flowers. Because sugar also feeds bacteria, a bactericide is included. An acid also discourages bacterial growth in the water.

You can further prolong your cut flowers’ lives by removing some of the leaves above the water line, which would otherwise cause the flower to lose water through transpiration. Remove all the leaves below the water line, which would otherwise encourage bacterial growth. Change the water every three days, rinsing out the vase and mixing in floral preservative each time. Keep the flowers out of direct sunlight and preferably in a cool spot.

Floralife, Bloomlife, Chrysal, Petallife and Everbloom are a few floral preservatives you can buy. There are also a number of home recipes, untried by Horticulture; try Googling “floral preservative” to investigate these.

Read more about flower arranging

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