How To Keep Your Cut Flowers Fresh Longer, According To A Gardening Expert

How To Keep Your Cut Flowers Fresh Longer, According To A Gardening Expert

How To Keep Your Cut Flowers Fresh Longer, According To A Gardening Expert


There’s something special about adding a vase of fresh-cut flowers to your dining room table or living room mantel that can change the entire feeling of the space. Having flowers like this in your home can offer numerous benefits, including creating a strong sense of intention in the home, bringing nature into the space, and elevating your mood, according to 1-800Flowers. It’s also a great design component for the pop of color it offers. While some indoor houseplants smell amazing, there’s nothing quite like the beauty of outdoor blooms.

Are you worried about keeping them thriving? Perhaps you’ve had bad luck getting these flowers to last more than a few days. Liz Will, a Master Gardener, certified garden coach, and founder of Learn to Grow Gardens, shares some insights on helping them last longer in an exclusive interview with House Digest. She explains, “Keeping cut flowers fresh is easy. If you follow these steps, your cut flower arrangement should last far longer than plopping it into a vase with plain water.” Here’s how to get started.

Choose the right vase

Woman arranging flowers in vase

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While you may choose any vase style you like, it’s also important to be sure the vase is ready to do its job — keep flowers lasting longer. Liz Will states, “You’ll want to use a vase that’s clean and free from residue or leftover detergents.” It’s not uncommon for this to occur if the vase wasn’t properly cleaned before being stored. There could be mold, mildew, or bacteria present, or there could be residue from previous soaps used in cleaning attempts.

Will offers specific steps to ready the vase. “Freshly wash the vase in hot, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. An additional soak in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water will kill any bacteria in the vase that could shorten the lifespan of your bouquet.” It’s a good idea to do this even if you’ve run the vase through the dishwasher, as it can provide just a bit more protection against bacteria for your new flowers.

Cut the stems

Cutting flower stems

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Whether you’re bringing flowers in from your garden or purchasing them from a store, preparing the stems themselves is the next step before putting them into the water. According to Will, there are a few specifics to this process. “Using clean garden sheers or sharp scissors, cut the stems of your flowers at a 45-degree angle, preferably under water. Doing so underwater prevents air bubbles from forming, blocking the intake of water up the stem.”

Ensuring the stems can absorb as much water as possible is critical to the flowers lasting longer and looking their best. “Cutting the stems at a 45-degree angle keeps them from lying flat in the bottom of your container, which can also block water from traveling up the stems,” reveals Will. Refrain from using a kitchen knife for this task as it may cause breakage to the stem, leaving it less able to soak in the water it needs.

Remove the leaves below the water line

Person cutting flower stems

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Remember that bacteria that grew in the vase from the last time you put flowers out? Here’s how to avoid that happening again. “Leaves remaining in vase water will rot, leading to bacteria and algae growth,” states Will. It only takes a few snips of the garden sheers to clear these away. Getting rid of them can also help draw attention to the flower buds instead of the base of a clear vase.

Will continues, “Trimming any leaves below the water line keeps the water in your vase fresh for much longer.” If the stems are not very long, try a shorter vase to avoid clouding up the water with too much organic material. You’ll know there’s a problem if the water becomes murky and clouded within just a short time of putting the stems into it. That discolored water is also an eyesore and may encourage you to get rid of your flowers too soon.

Feed your flowers

Flowers in a vase


Many flowers receive extensive nutrients during their growing process, so much so that they depend on that nutrition base to thrive. When you’ve cut them, they can no longer pull in nutrition, especially indoors and out of the sun. Will states, “Even cut flowers need to be fed to look their best. You can purchase premade flower food or make your own.”

If you’re already in the middle of this process without any plant food, it’s easy enough to make your own. Will shares, “To make your own, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and a few drops of bleach to every quart of vase water.” Most of those ingredients are likely in your pantry. The bleach may seem out of place, but it’s quite important. “The bleach keeps bacteria from forming, and the sugar feeds the flowers,” Will reveals. This could help your flowers look fresh and like new for numerous days.

Change the water every few days

Bright yellow flowers in vase

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Without a doubt, the quality of the water your flowers are living in is going to dramatically impact the overall lifespan of the plants. “Every three to four days, refresh the water in your vase with fresh water and more flower food,” shares Will. It may be important to do this even if the water remains clear since you’ll be providing another boost of important nutrients to the stems.

You can also pay close attention to the changes in the flowers as they get a little older. Will states, “You can also trim 1 inch off of each stem to open them back up and allow the stems to pull up more water and nutrients.” This could rejuvenate the flowers, giving them the ability to brighten up again as they get a sudden surge of new nutrients. Try to do this before they start to wilt for the best overall results.

Refrigerate the bouquet

Flowers on kitchen table


Perhaps you have a family dinner party this weekend, and you want your flowers to look the very best so you don’t have to replace them. You could take a more aggressive approach, according to Liz Will. “An additional tip to extend the life of your flowers is placing the entire boutique in the fridge each night and removing it in the morning. The cooler air in the fridge slows down the aging process, prolonging the life of your bouquet.” Clear out some space in a spare fridge, if possible, to take full advantage of the added days of beauty.

Each of these tips can help to give your flowers a bit more life without taking much time to complete them. Just a few minutes of preparation combined with creating a healthy dose of nutrients may allow your flowers to keep adding beauty to your home for many more days. That way, you don’t have to be reliant on indoor plants to bring nature into your home and add some dimension and life to your spaces.

✿ Read More About Flowers.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.