Long Lasting Bouquets on a Budget!

I needed a break from edits on my novel. It is a marathon, not a race. Everybody takes breaks now and again. Some writers paint, draw, write poetry, visit museums… but what about playing with a live medium? A friend inspired me to start making bouquets. A windy path ensued in how to keep the bouquets going. Here’s the inspiration, and what I found!

Quick tips on Cost Effective Bouquets for the Home + How to keep them Alive?

Do bouquets of flowers need food? As a layperson, I wasn’t so sure. The younger me would just dump some food into a vase and whirl it around, cut the stems, and put the flowers in. The older me thought… what is all this preservative? I don’t want to use this packet of flower food. So doing without, my flowers would last well under a week. Then I went a long period without bouquets around the home.

Inspired by a friend (Instagram—Bramble Basics), I started creating bouquets for the bathroom, bedroom, living room, and in my workspace. Yes, this may sound like a lot… but it really isn’t as labor intensive as it sounds. Another perk is that the bouquets are easy on the wallet in the ever so growing time of inflation in our present economy that is less than favorable for most. It is also an efficient way to bring some happiness and beauty into the home while flexing a creative muscle in a way that you may not always use.

Quick Tips on Bouquet Making

In a nutshell

Step 1: Go to Trader Joes.

Step 2: Choose 3 colors (outside of green aka base color) of filler flowers. The filler flowers are usually a little cheaper than the premium and just as pretty. 

Step 3: Choose 3 water vessels (can use a vase, cup, jar, etc.). 

Step 4: Create your bouquets.

More on Chloe’s bouquet – making in depth in her video here.

Do Bouquets of Flowers really need Food?

I started creating my bouquets, which was a hit around the home. It even inspired a few others along the way to add flowers to their homes by creating their own bouquets. Chloe’s idea spread like wildfire.

The first run… I went without the flower food. My flowers died in less than a week. The water was murky and green, tinged with an odd slime towards the base. This was bacteria! A sure shot on killing the bouquet faster than wanted. Troubleshooting, I remembered watching another friend in the floral business create her bouquets. I noted she had pulled the leaves away from the stems prior to putting them in the water. The next time I would be more careful to de-leaf the stems that were submerged in water. 

The one thing I got right is cutting the stems to an angle. We don’t want them flat across or else the stem cannot relay the water to the blooms above.

The next week, I de-leaved the stems. Still using no flower food (as some of you may cringe) I had to begin my science experiment. The flowers were gulping the water. I replenishedthe water in each mason jar after 3 days. Then, within a day, the flowers had wilted and died. 

You may ask… why didn’t she just look this up? Because I am unduly stubborn and like to see how things work… that is why. However, I looked up some tricks after this. Copper pennies, aspirin, hairspray, lemon or lime soda, and flower food. The winner: flower food. The copper penny, aspirin, and vodka left the water still a little murky, and the flowers still didn’t last as long. 

Luckily, I had kept some of the tiny packets of flower food from previous bouquets, so I had plenty for my last and final experiment. I looked at the back of the packet, and it read one packet to one quart (or four cups) of water. Using a large vase for the total mixture… I used hot water to dissolve the food with two cups of water, and then two cups of cold water so the stems wouldn’t boil. Then filled each mason jar with the mixture of water and flower food prior to placing the flowers into each jar. I removed the leaves from the stems, and the ends of each stem cut to an angle. 

Hooray! The flowers guzzled the mixture down but appeared healthy and continued to bloom! I made more water/flower food and replenished the mixture into each jar and the flowers still look great with no signs of eminent death at six days later. Success!!!

The lesson

Cut flowers need some sort of food, and there is also a risk for bacterial growth in the water as they drink from it.

Here are the key takeaways:

Cut at least 1-2 inches off each stem, and remove any leaves on the stems to avoid leaves in the water. Flowers aren’t seaweed. Just don’t do it. They don’t like it, and neither will you. 

Cut the stems to an angle. If we cut the stems straight across, then it is hard for the stems to drink the water and keep the flowers hydrated. Give them an edge! 

Flowers like warm and/or room temperature water with some food in it. Don’t shock your flowers with frigid water or something too hot. Make the flowers porridge fit for Goldie Locks. Not too hot, not too cold… just right!

Everything on this earth needs an energy source, including our bouquets. Give it food. You can use the packet that comes from the grocery store, or you can make your own. 

The preferred blend:

Cut flowers like a little acid, a little sugar, and something to kill the bacteria. 

DIY flower foods:

Recipe One 

1 quart water + 2 teaspoons lemon juice + 1 teaspoon sugar (Baker’s sugar melts quickly) + ½ teaspoon of bleach.

(Okay, so the bleach may sound weird… but bacteria can form in the water killing your bouquets. Don’t knock it till you try it.)

(May substitute with lime juice. Basically, you want some sort of citric acid element, so the recommendations are lemon or lime juice.)

Recipe Two 

We can also use apple cider vinegar as an anti-bacterial if you don’t love the idea of using bleach in your water. 1 quart of water + 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar + 2 tablespoons sugar. 

They say ¼ teaspoon of bleach is optional. 

(May substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar with the mother or without. I didn’t see any firm evidence on the use of one over the other. If you have any advice here, please comment below!) 

How to keep the little pretties going aka keep your bouquet alive!

Replenish your water/food mixture every 2-3 days.

Trim stems every 2-3 days.

Truth be told, I only replenished my water/food mixture every 3 days. I did not trim the stems. My bouquets still look lively without signs of death six days later. Most bouquets usually last anywhere from five to seven days. Some can last well over seven days if you have something long lasting, like carnations, alstroemerias, hypericum, freesias, eryngiums (sea holly), hydrangeas, or sunflowers. 

Heavy Hitter’s (aka longer lasting flowers) at Trader Joes currently:

Currently in March 2023, I can say that you can find eryngiums, hypericum, and alstroemerias there right now at Trader Joes if you wanted something long lasting to get started with. They also currently have sunflowers!

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