5 Floral Care Myths Debunked

Still putting pennies in your vase? Soak up some new knowledge with these tips for cut flower care.
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Peonies in the Field

Peonies in the Field

Peonies prepare to bloom in fields across South America, where growing conditions are optimal.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Flower Muse

Image courtesy of Flower Muse

Peonies prepare to bloom in fields across South America, where growing conditions are optimal.

As co-owner of the online floral retailer Flower Muse, Ellie Hsu has heard it all when it comes to floral care—pennies in the water, smashing stems, the whole bit. "Old wives' tales of flower care are still perpetuated, even by some florists, so it can be difficult to know what really works." 

But Hsu's mission goes beyond bouquets: She founded Flower Muse as a way to support international flower farms that, in turn, support whole communities. "Many people don't realize the wonderful impact that flower farms provide for families in their area," she says. "Mothers are able to earn a living and provide for their families. Day care, schools, free meals and health care are often provided for children or farm staff. And some farms provide additional benefits like English language classes and scholarships."

Flowers that are grown with love and care a world away deserve a long life in the vase. Hsu breaks down the top five flower care myths to keep those stems standing up straight: 

Smash the stems of hydrangea and woody flowers for better hydration

"Never do this!" Hsu says. "Smashing doesn't make it easier for the flower to drink water—it's just the opposite. When you smash the stem, you ruin the cell structure, making it harder for the flower to drink water." 

Put pennies in water for a longer life in the vase

"While copper has antimicrobial properties, the copper in pennies is not water soluble," Hsu says. "Dirty pennies may actually introduce bacteria to the water."

Stripping the leaves and thorns is good for roses

Hsu agrees that removing any leaves that fall below the water line of the vase is a good way to keep bacterial growth at bay, but says to leave the ones on the stem alone. "Leaves help drive water flow up through the stem, so leaving as much foliage on as possible helps keep a flower hydrated." Leave those thorns alone, too. "Removing them leaves an open spot that makes it easier for bacteria to enter the rose and shorten its vase life." 

Aspirin, bleach, soda and sugar increase vase life

You're better off sticking to the square packets of floral food that come with the package. "Different flowers have different needs, and you could do more harm than good," Hsu says. "Floral food has been specifically designed to extend vase life, but nothing is better than keeping your vase clean, regularly changing out the water and re-cutting the stems." 

Hot water is best for hydrating flowers

Bring it down a few degrees, folks. "Lukewarm or tepid water helps most flowers in their initial hydrating period," Hsu says. "While boiling water may kill bacteria in the vase, it will also cook your stems, leaving a nice home for microbes to start forming once the water cools down." 

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