How Long Do Plucked Flowers Live?
The plucked flowers last a week or two under normal conditions, but the “vase life” varies greatly. Genetics of course plays an important role; but so is how the plant is grown and collected.
At the time of detachment, there is starch and sugar in the root. If the plant grew in a bright environment and was plucked in the afternoon, there are more of them. These substances act as fuel for the flower, and when the fuel runs out, the flower can extract nutrients from the water in the vase. That’s why people often give “flower food” to their flower bouquets.
However, the ability of plucked flowers to take water and nutrients decreases over time. These processes are often limited by air bubbles or obstructions at the root with bacterial growth. Adding a little bleach to the water can increase the life span of the flower by removing the microorganisms; weak acid can facilitate circulation. Temperature also makes a big difference: “The best thing you can do to make a flower last very long is to keep it at a temperature that is very close to freezing,” says John Dole, professor of floristry at North Carolina State University. Unless you freeze the sap of the flower (which would be a fatal mistake), lower temperatures will slow ripening.
The genetics of a plant plays an important role in the longevity of flowers, even under the most favorable conditions. For example, beautiful ones last a maximum of one day. Other species have surprising endurance. “We’re working here with a flower called pineapple lily, and in one of the treatments we’ve done, it lasts for seven weeks,” says Dole. “When they last that long, they are classified as” please die now… I want to finish this experiment! “