This Easy Trick Is the Secret to Getting Fragile, Finicky Poppy Flowers To Stay Fresh Longer

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Poppy Flowers in Vase
Photo: Getty Images/Lauren Burke

Poppies, as beautiful and unique as they might be, are also known for being quite rebellious at times. Not only do they tend to wilt quickly after being cut and placed in water, they also can take a long time to fully open up and display their colorful personality. However, there's a trick that florists and flower enthusiasts have been known to use in order to stave off poppy flowers' finicky attitude, and it only takes a couple extra minutes while arranging your vase.

You simply have to burn the stems. Yep, you heard us—light that candle. Cauterizing flower stems is a lesser-known secret that makes the most of poppies. Here's how it works: After cutting each poppy (always at a 45-degree angle for optimal water-drinking potential), burn the last inch of the cut stem all around for about 30 seconds, finishing by "cauterizing" the very tip of the flower stem. Place immediately in your water-filled vase.

What makes this unusual tip suitable for poppies is that it keeps their quick-to-seep sap from exiting the flower from the bottom, which then helps the flower retain its own moisture (and vital nutrients) and be able to drink water from the vase for longer. Overall, you're left with a longer-lasting bouquet, which is a feat enough for the delicate, crepey blooms. However, the benefits don't stop there.

Additionally, burning the ends of the poppy stems helps along the blooming process of the buds for brighter, bigger, open-faced flowers. For characteristically demure poppies, that makes a huge difference. (Remember: You must always peel the outer skin of a poppy bud before anything else.) Watching the poppies open up after being placed in a vase is always a stunning sight, and cauterizing the stems can make it happen faster and more dramatically. Watch for major change in the first hour or two after taking off the skin and burning the ends, as demonstrated by floral designer Rachel Cho. (See video below.)

While they might make you work for their love, poppies are beauties to behold. Now, you can master the poppy bouquet for your next occasion.

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