My first ever DIY blog posts appeared in Sunset magazine’s now defunct blog, homebysunset.com. Because Sunset is no longer hosting these projects, I’m making revised and updated versions available here at Crafty Nest. This post comprises Long-lasting cut flowers, Part 1-2, originally published July & November 2007.

CarnationsPhoto by rangerx/iStockphoto.com

I have a love-hate relationship with cut flowers. I love how beautiful they look and smell the first couple days. Shortly thereafter, love turns to hate. That’s when the wilting and stinking phase kicks in.

Worse, my former roommates never changed the water, and they kept the poor, dying blooms around long past their prime. Inevitably, I faced droopy flowers in mucky, reeking water on the dining table while I ate my morning oatmeal. Not appetizing.

Chrysanthemums in a vase

Then I discovered that some flowers last much longer than others. I received a mixed bouquet for my birthday. Over the next few days, I removed each dead flower and changed the water. Soon, all that was left were a bunch of lavender mums. I checked them day after day, and they continued to look beautiful. After I had them for a month, I took the picture above.

That got me thinking. What other flowers are long lasting?

Tips and photos after the jump.

I asked Lauren Swezey, Sunset garden writer, and she told me that alstroemeria, carnations, and daisies in addition to chrysanthemums tend to last longer in a vase. Here are several more flowers to try: Catherine Mix’s preferred long-lasting blooms.

How to extend vase life

Then I looked for cut-flower tips to make them last as long as possible. I found this article on how to help cut flowers last. And years ago, I worked on a story at Real Simple. The editors tested several strategies for keeping cut flowers fresh, including aspirin, bleach, Listerine, and a penny. Flower food came out the clear winner. Check it out here: How to keep cut flowers fresh.

Testing alstroemeria

Honestly, when Lauren mentioned alstroemeria, I had no idea what it looked like in person. The online photos I found didn’t help much. But in June 2007, Sunset had some flowers leftover from a photo shoot. Among them were alstroemeria. I grabbed a bunch of reddish and coral-color blooms and put them to the test.

Alstroemeria day one

The photo above was taken the day after I brought them home. I had trimmed the stems, stripped the leaves from the bottom part, and placed them in water mixed with a plant food packet that they came with.

Alstroemeria day 14

Two weeks later, I took this photo. They opened up more; the leaves were a little droopy, but overall they looked great. (The pinker color in this image is because of different lighting.) That’s the last photo I took because someone (ahem, me) accidentally let them go dry one day. Despite the drought, they continued to look beautiful for a few more days. I’m convinced they could have lasted a month with proper care.

So, I’m a fan of alstroemeria. They’re not roses, but they’re gorgeous—and they stay gorgeous for much longer.

Long-lasting cut greens

Soon I discovered that cut leaves can look just as beautiful as flowers and last even longer.

Philodendron day one

Photo by Rob. D. Brodman/Sunset

This photo of philodendron leaves (cut from one of the plants in the Sunset office) in a stone vase appeared in the June 2007 issue of Sunset magazine. Rob shot that image in March 2007. The leaves were still alive and beautiful in a vase in my apartment four months later. I took the picture below in July 2007.

Philodendron leaves day 120

The Sunset garden editors told me that I could get the philodendron leaves to root with not much effort. I never did try it. Please tell us how if you’ve ever had success rooting philodendron leaves.

Israeli Ruscus or Ruscus hypophyllum

Photo by Amanda/ApartmentTherapy.com

Above is another long-lasting vase filler that’s beautiful in its own right. An Apartment Therapy reader identified it as Israeli Ruscus or Ruscus hypophyllum. She wrote: “It’s a common filler in floral arrangements because it can last for ages after being cut. Stems cut in December can be used in arrangements as long as five months later.”

Do you know of any other long-lasting cut greens? Please share with us!