15 Fragrant Flowers And How To Prolong Their Cut Life

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No matter how small or how big is your apartment or how small or big your budget, enrich your apartment living with fresh cut flowers!  There simply isn’t any other substitute.  Okay, a special other or even a dog could top a bunch of flowers in a vase.  But I say why not have it all?

Here are 15 cut flowers that are wonderfully fragrant.  How to prolong their cut life is discussed at the end.  Note:  this post focuses on cut flowers purchased (or gifted) from florists.  Many are also available from grocery stores, farmers market or can even be grown indoors or on a sunny balcony porch.  

The flowers listed here along with Casa Blanca lily include another lily called Stargazer.  Following the lilies are the carnation; chrysanthemum; gardenia;  narcissus; stephanotis floribunda; freesia, lilac, sweet pea, rosemary; grape hyacinth (mascari); lavender; eucalyptus; eucharis Grandiflora; and of course, the mighty rose.

  1. Carnation: Light, sweet floral fragrance. I ran across a tacky comment about the carnation and thought it very unfair. Display with style, it won't disappoint you. Vase life can extend 14-21 days.

  2. Chrysanthemum: Fragrance described as herbaceous and earthy to deep and musky.There are 10 types of blooms available, depending upon what's carried in your area. Vase life is 25-30 days with proper care.

  3. Gardenia: Strong, heady fragrance. Short lived, will last about 2 days.

  4. Narcissus 'White': Sweet, rich scent. Generally found in yellow and white. Paper whites are also popular, often displayed as growing from its bulb in a glass container.

  5. Stephanotis floribunda: Exotic floral fragrance with a spicy undertone. Difficult to find as a cut flower but often used in floral arrangements. Can be grown indoor in a pot (a subject for another post!)

  6. Freesia: Delicate, summery fragrance. Comes in an array of colors.

  7. Lilac: Heavy floral scent. If you can't find this in the spring in a florist shop, scour the neighborhood and make friends with someone who has a lilac bush. It's worth it!

  8. "Stargazer" Lilly: Exotic, intense fragrance that canl perfume an entire room. Proper care will extend its vase life to 14 days.

  9. Sweet Pea: Intensely fragrant. Comes in an array of colors.

  10. Rosemary: Woody scent. Prized most for its herbaceous value but also makes an excellent cut flower in arrangements.

  11. Grape Hyacinth (Mascari): Aromatic with a faint musky scent. Blooms in spring. Can be grown in a pot indoors or on a balcony.

  12. Lavendar: Aromatic, sometimes described as piney floral scent.

  13. Aromatic scent but best known for it's medicinal value. Said to last up to 30 days cut in a vase.

  14. Eucharis Grandiflora: Soft citrus fragrance. A member of the Amarylls family, there are six species. Often used in arrangements but not seen as an available cut flower. A tropical plant, it can be grown indoors.

  15. Rose: Floral scent - varies from slight to intense. Vase life is 7-10 days. If you're lucky to know someone with a 'Mr Lincoln" in their garden, make very good friends with them!

How to prolong the life of cut flowers
from a florist, grocery stores or farmers market.

Prepare your flowers:

  1. Start with a dry clean vase. This will help reduce bacteria …

  2. Add warm water (about 100 to 110 degree Fahrenheit or bath water temperature). Most cut flowers will tolerate cold water but warm water is most preferred for a quick water uptake. The amount of water should reach half the length of the stem.

  3. Use a floral preservative or bactericide or a homemade preservative (Recipes below).

  4. Hold the florist cut stem under warm water (running water or in a bowl of water) and cut one to two inches at an angle. Use a sharp knife or shears. Remove any leaves that would be under water. Immediately place the stems in the container of warm water. Be sure to keep the blooms dry. Cutting stems under warm water prevents air bubbles from getting into the cut end of the stem. Air bubbles will plug up cells that take in water.

  5. Flower arrangements that will be displayed later should be stored in a cool humid place and away from the sun and drafts.

Some interesting facts on how to prolong your cut flowers:

Hard water which contains dissolved materials or even water that has been “softened” with a home water-softener is not suitable for keep flowers fresh.  Hard water is most often alkaline (pH 7-10).  Cut flowers do better in acidic (pH 4-6) water.  If at all possible, use distilled or deionized water. 

When you improve water uptake and its continuous transpiration (the circulation and evaporation of water from leaves), you reduce the speed at which the flower wilts.  From “the roots through the stem and out into every part of the leaves and flowers are water-conducting xylem cells through which water moves to keep the whole plant turgid.”  If transpiration is too rapid, the plant wilts and dies.

You can make your own floral preservatives. Here are three that work well.  I use the mixture listed in number three and have never been disappointed.

1. two teaspoonfulls (t.) sugar + 1/2 t. chlorox or similar material + 1/4 t. alum + one quarter water.
2. two tablespoonfuls (T.) white vinegar + two t. sugar + 1/2 t. chlorox + one quart water.
3. One pint non-diet (must contain sugar) non-cola drink (i.e. Sprite, 7-up, etc.) + 1/2 t. chlorox + one pint water.
— web.extension.illinois.edu/cook/downloads/9203.pdf

What are your favorite cut flowers?
And how do you prolong the life of your cut flowers?