How to Revive Dead Flowers

You are walking home from work as you drive past the most beautiful hydrangeas. At $ 6 for two stems in your local wine cellar, they’re just a theft and impossible to refuse. You bring them home, put them in a vase of water and forget them for a couple of hours. The next thing you know is the perfect little blue petals that curl, it all drops, and the fun flowers you bought a few hours ago are dying fast.

Your flowers are zombies

Well, I’m kind of dying. Whether your cut flowers are dead or alive is a matter of controversy . Since it is unclear who they are, you can think of them as zombies, not entirely alive, but not dead either. With the right conditions, they can be kept like a zombie for a week or two, long enough to decorate a coffee table and make you smile.

Flowers wither for a simple reason: the plant does not receive enough water. When newly purchased flowers start to wilt shortly after you buy them, chances are good that water cannot get onto the stems. Here are some simple steps to help your floral drink reborn again. You can’t keep them fresh forever, but if they wither prematurely, you can bring them back from the brink without requiring word of mouth or midnight graveyard sacrifices.

Bring your flowers to life

Step 1: Cut off the stems. Most often, the lower part of the stem dries out, which absorbs water with difficulty. So take a very sharp pair of scissors or a knife and cut at an angle to provide as much surface area as possible for the flower to drink. This will also allow the flower to stand in the vase, helping the water to penetrate the stem. To further increase the surface area, divide the stem an inch or two from the bottom with scissors or a knife.

Step 2: use warm water . Another way to open the stem and make sure the water is absorbed is to use warm water instead of cold water. There are certain types of flowers that do not tolerate warm water, such as tulips, but most flowers can tolerate some warm water in a vase. Warm water moves up the stem more quickly and can help clear any blocks that might be blocking the stem from absorbing moisture. Just don’t make it scalding or hot, just turn on both the hot and cold faucet in your kitchen sink to get a pleasantly warm temperature.

Step 3: Add some life juice to the water. If you live in a city teeming with flower sellers in wine cellars like New York, you are probably familiar with the little black flower food bags they stick to the wrapper of the bouquet. This mysterious powder is magic. It works wonders by prolonging the life of flowers and helping to revive hungry flowers.

Luckily for those of you who don’t live near the wine cellar, this mysterious flower meal is very easy to prepare at home. It’s a combination of three simple ingredients: sugar, acid like lemon juice, and a drop of bleach. Sugar provides food for the flower. The acid lowers the pH of the water, which helps the water move faster through the stem. Bleach, which is scary to add to flower water, is designed to prevent the growth of bacteria, which can grow faster because the water contains sugar. Since only one teaspoon of bleach fits in a liter of water, it is not concentrated enough to damage flowers. (The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens website has a great homemade recipe as well as some additional tips for flower care.)

Step 4: Wait. Flowers need at least a few hours for them to drink in the water and turn into their happy zombies again.

Step 5: Repeat as needed. Since the flowers are wilted in the first place, keeping them alive for a week may require re-pruning the stems every couple of days – cut about half an inch from the end so the flower has an open path to drinking. If you see the water getting a little dull or cloudy, change the water, adding fresh flower food each time. Try not to expose the flowers to the sun in the baking room during the summer. If they are sitting on a sunny windowsill, move them to a shady and cool place at home when you are not at home and enjoying them.

How long your flowers last after you revive them will depend on a number of factors, such as the genetics of the flower, how long ago it was cut, and how warm it is in your home. There is a reason florists often keep expensive flowers in the refrigerator: colder temperatures slow down the deterioration of flowers. Think of it as suspended animation for your already zombie flowers.

In Emergencies: If your flowers are very dry and look like they need urgent help, try submerging them in a large bowl or bucket of room temperature water for 30 minutes to an hour to start drinking the water. You can even leave them in the water overnight, although they will come to life in an hour. After you take them out of the water, follow steps 1 through 3 above.

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