Flowers bring a freshness and vibrance to our homes and can brighten up any room. When they are alive, their aroma hints of spring and new life. But as they start to die, flowers can have the opposite effect. Dying and brown flowers can bring you down, but tossing slightly wilted flowers in the trash every week seems wasteful.
If you are looking for an answer to what you should do with dead flowers, you’ve come to the right place. To avoid a depressing vibe, messy dead heads, and potential pests, let’s see if you can put your flowers in a compost pile!
Can I Put Dead Flowers in My Compost?
You can put dead flowers in your compost and add to the carbon needed to build a balanced pile. You can also compost dying flowers and green flowers that have lost their vigor to add different percentages of nitrogen and carbon. But it’s not as easy as dumping a vase full of flowers and their water directly on your compost and then heading inside.
There are several factors that can help you successfully compost your dead flowers. When composting at home with minimal lawn debris, it can be hard to get enough brown material to balance a small compost bin. Dead flowers are a perfect solution to add carbon to your mixture.
In order to get the most carbon out of your dead blooms, you will want them to dry out and turn brown. When the stems and leaves are nice and crunchy, toss them into the pile for maximum carbon. Throwing dried, dead flowers in with organic materials like vegetables can quickly start the composting process.
4 Benefits of Composting Dead Flowers
- Nitrogen or Carbon – Green fresh flowers will have high levels of nitrogen. As the cuttings die and turn brown, the amount of nitrogen reduces, and the level of carbon increases. Flowers can be a great way to fine-tune a small home compost bin to have the proper 30:1 carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.
- Can be Collected Gradually – As flowers die, they begin to dry out and drop blooms and petals. If you remove the dying heads and collect them in a dry bin or brown paper bag, you can avoid a mess and accumulate great composting ingredients at the same time.
- Second Use for a Consumable Product – Modern humans use a ton of consumable products on a daily basis. Most of these can only be used once and then are trashed or, at best, recycled/composted. But dead flowers are given a second chance to bring life when they are remade into plant-nourishing garden soil.
How Long Does it Take for Dead Flowers to Decompose?
A well-made and well-prepared compost can decompose flowers completely in as little as 6 months to 1 year. While petals and leaves break down quickly, stems can take much longer to disintegrate fully.
Commercial flowers need special consideration as they may have additives to keep them fresh and prevent early browning. This is great if you want bright flowers for weeks, but can damage the delicate balance of a compost pile and so steps should be taken to avoid this.
Washing the commercial flower cuttings with either alkaline water (pH 11) or acid, like vinegar, can break down the chemicals preventing decomposition. Rinse the cuttings one final time with normal water to prevent adding pH issues to your compost.
Compost-safe additives like sugar, baking soda, and lime juice can preserve flowers’ freshness and not harm your compost’s microbes when discarded. With compost-safe flowers in hand, let’s look at how we can speed up the composting process.
4 Ways to Speed Up Composting
- Chop Up the Materials – Once you have dried out the flowers to your desired parchedness, you should chop the flowers into ¼-inch pieces. The smaller the pieces, the quicker they will break down. It also lets you spread it more evenly throughout the pile.
- Separate the Dry and Wet Flower Parts – Flowers can be either rich in nitrogen if they are still full of water or high in carbon if they are dry and crumbly. Some parts, like the bulbs and leaves, will dry out long before the stems. Adding these to the compost separately can give you more control of the C:N ratio.
- Turn the Compost Every Few Days – The stalks of flowers and some of the denser bulbs can be difficult to break down. It is beneficial to turn the compost every few days while adding additional moisture. This will help increase the temperature and break down stubborn stalks.
- Add More Worms, Microbes, and Mycelium – The microbes do the work, and they love flowers, as it is one of their natural foods. Giving your soil critters a chance to multiply to handle the number of flowers being added to compost can speed up the composting process. A warm compost will allow more bacteria to multiply than a cold one.
What Composts Like Dead Flowers?
Dead Flowers are a great contribution to organic compost. The most beneficial aspect of composting flowers is that they can give varying levels of nitrogen or carbon depending on their individual stage of decay. This customization is great for a small compost pile that is more sensitive to slight changes.
Let’s see what else can be composted, like dead flowers!
|Material||Time to Decompose||Prepared LIke Dead Flowers|
|Hamster Bedding||6 months||Mixed dry and wet materials|
|Tuber Peels||3 to 6 months||Dry to get more carbon|
|Tree Bark||3 to 6 months||Wet or dry materials, Chopped|
|Plant Roots||3 to 6 months||Wet or dry materials, Chopped|
- Hamster Bedding – Hamsters create a lot of compost by mixing their food, bedding, and manure into nice little compost packages. Adding this to your compost can work like dead flowers in balancing a small pit with a variety of carbon and nitrogen percentages.
- Tuber Peels- Potatoes, carrots, and other tuber peels can be dried out to increase carbon or tossed into a compost wet to add nitrogen. They are readily available in most home kitchens.
- Tree Bark – Tree bark breaks down in a similar way as flower stalks. It takes several months to break apart, and chopping it up can increase decomposition time.
- Plant Roots – If you have house plants, some may die or outgrow pots. If you have plants you cant rehome or ones that died of non-plant disease-related causes, you can add them to compost as well. Chopping them up can help them compost faster. Fresher roots will have more nitrogen than bone dry, old roots.