What to Look for When Buying Fresh-Cut Flowers

When choosing flowers for yourself or a loved one, there are a lot of variables to consider. For one thing, you'll want to think about which flowers you want in a bouquet. A romantic anniversary may call for red roses, while a birthday could call for something a bit more lively and festive. No matter what flowers you choose, though, it's important to consider how you can ensure they last as long as possible. A bouquet's vase life is largely dependent on how it's taken care of at home, but choosing the right blossoms up front can make a huge difference as well. Here's what you should look for when buying flowers to make sure they're as fresh as possible:

The Buds
When buying fresh-cut flowers, you should first inspect the buds. There are a few things to look for here: First, check the petals for any discoloration, wilting or transparency. All of these can be signs that the blooms are past their peak freshness. Then, check the inside of the blossom for seeds – flowers for arrangements should be cut before they have the chance to go to seed, so if you see any, it means the flowers won't last quite as long. Finally, remember that the tighter the bud, the fresher the blooms, since flowers will open and blossom more the longer they're in the vase. So, tulips or roses with tightly closed buds are the way to go.

The Stems
After inspecting the blossoms themselves, check out the stems. These should be firm, green and sturdy – if they're bending or broken, the flowers will wilt much sooner. Also, make sure the ends of the stems are green or white and appear to be freshly cut. If the ends are browning, yellowing or frayed, you'll know they aren't as fresh.

The Leaves
Like petals, the leaves along the stem should be healthy and green. If they're brown and wilting – or if there are spots along the stem where leaves have already wilted and fallen off – the flowers won't last you as long.

The Water
Most flowers must be kept in clean and nutrient-rich water. While you can't check the water for flower food, make sure the water in the vase isn't murky or full of dead leaves. While it doesn't always indicate this, it could mean that there is bacteria in the water that may affect the flowers' health.

Remember to check with your florist to determine what blossoms are seasonal and fresh – he or she will be happy to make recommendations for an arrangement you or a loved one will adore for a long time.