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  • Writer's pictureDawn Bly


Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Woman holding an armful of sunflowers
Sunflowers in Summer

So, you followed the care instructions that we gave you to the letter; your gorgeous flowers have lasted as long as they can, and they are now dying a dignified death in your vase. What to do with them next? Here are some suggestions to help keep flowers out of the landfill in a sustainable fashion:

Tip #1 - Root them on!

Some, but not all, of your plants will form roots in the water and may become new plants in their own right. If you desire to encourage this, keep the stem in water and keep an eye on the roots! Plant it in soil in a flower pot once it seems sturdy enough to stand on its own and baby it along from there. Some plants that I have done this with are basil, coleus, sweet potato vines and mint. (See below for notes on mint!)

Tip #2 - Dehydrate them.

Drying for winter arrangements or other uses around the home like potpourri is pretty simple. Some plants that we grow that we dry upside-down in our basement include: rosemary, dill, peonies, yarrow, zinnias, feverfew, lavender, sage, sunflowers, prairie blazingstar, bachelor’s button, and flowering chives.

Tip #3 - Allow the kids (or you!) to make a project out of them.

What are flowers to us may be fairy trees and fairy skirts or door wreaths to the littles. Let the young ones turn their imagination loose to make a fairy village or supplement playtime! (Just make sure that whatever you give them is also safe for them to touch and eat. You know it--everything goes into their mouths eventually.)

Tip #4 - Set it outside for a while.

If there is still a little life left in your blooms, put your arrangement outside so the pollinators can have one last snack on the pollen and nectar. We do not use any chemicals, so it is okay to allowing the butterflies and their friends to enjoy your display just as much as you did. Make sure that your vase is sturdy enough to handle forecasted winds and/or put the arrangement in a protected area so that you do not return to find a tipped-over vase. Often this step leads to option #5 or #7.

Tip #5 - Compost the arrangement.

Once composting is completed, they can contribute to better soil in your yard. If you do not have the ability to compost, see if a neighbor does. Consider starting a compost pile if you do not have one now. Your soil will thank you! For composting newbies, there are plenty of resources at the library and on the internet to help you start composting.

Tip #6 - Feed the pets (where appropriate).

Allow me to provide an example: We keep fish and a guinea pig. Our sweet potato vines will grow roots that we allow to dangle into the fish tank for a maritime salad for our little finny friends. We find it amusing to watch the fish work to nibble and remove the roots, and it gives the fish something to do besides swim mindlessly all day in the clear box. Our vegan guinea pig adores being fed snippets of rosemary, all the parsley and cilantro he can hold, sunflower leaves and heads, swiss chard central stems (he acts as if they are peppermint stick candy for guinea pigs!), amaranth flower heads, and other items from our garden. Use common sense to determine how much your pets and their environment can handle, and only feed them items that you know they can safely ingest.

Last, and hopefully the least used option:

Tip #7 - Throw them in the trash.

This is the final option, should none of the others fit your situation. This is also the option I prefer for plants that are considered invasive, such as mint. Unless you want to find a mint monster taking over your yard, make sure you kill it, kill it again, and then throw it into the trash. (I never compost my mint, as mint seems to be the amazing resurrection plant around here.)

Do you have any other ideas on how to make your flowers last longer? Let me know!


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