How to Make Your Cut Flowers Stay Fresh Longer

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You can make your cut flowers stay fresh longer.
Image Credit: IRINA KROLEVETC /iStock/GettyImages

Things You'll Need

  • Cut flowers

  • Clean vase

  • Scissors or a knife

  • Lukewarm water

  • Sugar

  • Household bleach

  • Refrigerator or cool space

  • 7up or Sprite (optional)

  • Vodka (optional)

  • Aspirin (optional)

Nearly everyone enjoys fresh cut flowers in a vase, and it's a terrible shame that they just don't last very long after being removed from the mother plant. Florist bouquets and fresh flowers from retailers typically arrive with a packet of "flower food" to help keep the blooms fresher longer. But that item isn't always available to us. You'll find that some very basic flower care and some home remedies go a long way toward making cut flowers in a vase last longer.


Step 1: Choose a Container

Start with a clean vase. Flowers wilt and rot because of bacteria in the water. Start off on the right foot by placing your flowers and water in a clean and thus bacteria-free container.

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Step 2: Water Treatments for Your Flowers in a Vase

Fill your container with fresh, lukewarm water. Cold water will be a shock to your flowers and they may not react well. Add a few drops of bleach or vodka to your water to prevent bacteria growth. Finally, add a spoonful of commercial flower food, crushed aspirin or just plain sugar. The aspirin, sugar or food will feed your blooms.


Step 3: Remove the Lower Leaves

Remove any leaves that fall below the water level in your container. Again, the leaves will rot and add bacteria to the water.

Step 4: Arrange the Flowers

Arrange your cut flowers in their container. Place your container away from direct sunlight and any sources of heat (heat will prematurely wilt your flowers). Ideally, you should put your flowers in front of a mirror. This will make the arrangement appear more full.


Step 5: Evening Refrigeration for Cut Flowers

Refrigerate your flowers in the evening, but not at too cold of a temperature (don't put them in the freezer). If your fridge doesn't have room, move them to a cool location. Proper refrigeration is essential for maintaining your cut flowers' beauty.

Step 6: Trim the Stems

Trim the bottoms of your flower stems regularly. The bottoms of the stems have a tendency to reseal themselves and restrict their water flow. Keep the stems open on the bottom to make sure your flowers get plenty of water. Crush the bottoms of woody stems (such as roses) and cut bulb-grown stems (like daffodils) on an angle.


Step 7: Change the Water

Change the water in your container or vase regularly. Whenever changing the water, remember to clean your vase (in case any bacteria has begun appearing), add a few drops of bleach or vodka to prevent bacteria growth, as well as a spoonful of sugar, crushed aspirin or commercial flower food.


In place of adding sugar to your water, you could simply fill the vase 1/3 full with Sprite or 7up, then fill the remainder with water. Vodka makes a good substitute for bleach to help kill bacteria in the water. Just add a few drops. Crushed aspirin in flowers (not tylenol, ibuprofen or paracetemol) can replace the commercial flower food received with your arrangement, or also be used in place of sugar.

If you want your flowers to last a week or more, pay a little extra for quality flowers in the first place. Flowers that have been improperly cared for prior to your purchase will still wilt quickly, even with proper care from you. Check to see that proper refrigeration is used on your flowers when purchasing them.


Don't place your floral arrangement in full sunlight or near heat sources. Heat causes cut flowers to degenerate quicker. Avoid buying flowers that are near a heat source. Even a cash register produces heat. Exhaust fumes from cars shorten a flower's life span. Don't expect long-lasting flowers when buying from a kiosk or roadside stall.


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