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What is the Vase Life of Flowers?

Hey y’all! It’s Jess! I wanted to take a second and talk about vase life. We get asked a lot about the vase life of our flowers, and while I wish there was a definite answer I could give you, the truth is, it’s not that simple. 

The most obvious things that affect vase life are freshness and variety. Some varieties just don’t last long off the plant. I don’t grow many of these types of flowers - dahlias are about as fragile as I’m willing to stomach. And, the sooner you use them after they’ve been cut, the better. At the farm, I harvest everything directly into water and then place it in the cooler for a few hours before they’re ready for use. While harvesting directly into a box *sounds* like it would be better, harvesting is kinda stressful for the flower so I like to give it some R and R before hitting the road. 

In general, where the flowers are grown and how they’re grown matter quite a bit as vase life can change with altitude, climate, and soil (or hydroponics). When the flowers are harvested is pretty critical too. At the farm, we cut most flowers when they’re in bud form, or if it’s a spike variety like delphinium or snapdragons we’ll cut the bloom when one or only a few blooms have opened in each  stem. This not only extends vase life, but allows our customers to enjoy more of the flower life cycle. 

 

Where flowers come from is really important too (remember the freshness thing?) What a lot of people don’t know is that 80% of the flowers in the US are imported! This means that almost all of the flowers you buy have spent some serious time travelling to you from places like Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Holland. For the most part, flowers arrive in the US pretty quickly from when they’ve been harvested. But once they get here, they have a whole new leg of the journey where they go through customs, then to the distribution center, then to the grocery store, and eventually ends up on your dining room table. It’s a process that only the toughest flowers can survive.  

With literally *millions* of different flower varieties, don’t you ever wonder why there’s only a few at the grocery store? That’s because mass market (grocery store) flowers have to be ones that can be put through a lot. And we mean A LOT. That’s why you’ll see the usual suspects who have a reputation for being super durable: roses, carnations, mums, alstromeria, and daisies. Folks love our shippable bouquets because we’re able to put fresh-harvested flowers in them that can make the quick trip from our cooler to your home, but would never make it in the import supply chain.

I’m not saying those specialty imported blooms you get from a florist or flower market aren’t worth it - they certainly are. However, getting flowers from your local farm or farmer’s market, asking your florist for American-grown flowers, or ordering flowers online from a domestic farm (like us- we ship!) is a really good way to get the freshest blooms that are as long-lasting as they are beautiful.

So, what is the vase life of flowers? Unless you know everything your flower has been through, there’s literally no way to tell. Sorry to be anticlimactic. 

Over the years, I’ve documented vase life for some of the most popular flowers we grow on the farm. These are just estimates and are dependent upon how you take care of them as well as a host of other “perfect condition” factors. But, here’s my best shot at vase life.

Flower

Vase Life (Days)

Flower 

Vase Life (Days)

Alstroemeria

6 - 10

Lisianthus

8 - 10

Calla Lily

10 -12 

Narcissus

4 - 6

Carnation

6 - 10

Peony

5 - 8

Chrysanthemum

8 - 10

Poppy

4-6

Dahlia

4 - 6

Queen Anne's Lace

3 - 5

Delphinium

4 - 8

Ranunculus

8-10

Gladiolus

6 - 8

Snapdragon

5 - 8

Hyacinth

3 - 5

Statice

10-12

Hydrangea

4 - 7

Stock

5 - 8

Iris

2 - 6

Sunflower

5 - 6

Larkspur

4 - 8

Sweet Pea

3 - 7

Liatris

10-12

Tuberose

6 - 8

Lily

4 - 10

Yarrow

5 - 10

Note: The above data is for informational purposes only, and Harmony Harvest Farm does not guarantee that flowers will have the vase lives stated above.

A good rule of thumb is that flowers should last a few days at the very least. The ones with shorter vase lives will be “called home” first, but you really should have a few blooms worth enjoying a week later. When I want to create a long-lasting flower arrangement, I try to make sure that a majority of my ingredients have a pretty decent vase life. I’ll sprinkle in some magic here and there knowing they won’t make it for a full week, but boy will they make one heck of a first impression.

Taking care of your flowers in the vase is really important, too. You’ll want to be sure the water is always fresh, and it’s not sitting in direct sunlight. I (literally) unpack how to keep your fresh flowers happy and healthy in my post about fresh flower processing. You can read it here.

At the end of the day, flowers are fleeting beauties, but to me, they’re so worth it. I keep a vase in the house for longer than I should sometimes even though I try to switch them out once a week. Some flowers, like lilies, peonies, and poppies, just like my house, and I don’t have the heart to throw them out until they’re officially gone. What flowers stay fresh for a long time in your home? 

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