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How Can You Keep Cut Flowers Fresh The Longest?

Updated on April 18, 2012
The scent of  an English summer- sweet peas in a vase
The scent of an English summer- sweet peas in a vase | Source

The scent and colour

I love the scent of fresh flowers as they waft through my living room. To me there is nothing nicer than a large bunch of cut flowers in a glass vase , but there is sadness when they die, the colour that they once put in my life has gone; and only the empty vase remains.

My husband looks at the problem in a different way, usually mumbling something like “ I paid £10 for those and they lasted 4 days- wonder if I can take them back?”

Next month sees another birthday and all I have asked for is flowers; from my favourite shop arranged in a hand tied bouquet and the biggest that they have. I have started to find out how to keep my dream flowers in pristine condition for the longest possible time and protect my husband’s investment.

Clean vase

The first thing to do is to make sure that the vase is absolutely clean; this avoids the build up of harmful bacteria which will quickly grow and multiply. The bacteria then block the capillaries of the stems in the flowers stopping the free movement of water up the stems.

One thing to note, if you are lucky enough to have roses don’t cut the thorns off as this does tend to shorten their lives.

Make sure that the vase is big enough and has room for enough water in it; sometimes the arrangement could wilt just because you forgot to give it enough water.

Tulips in the field; which can be cut and arranged in the home
Tulips in the field; which can be cut and arranged in the home | Source


Flowers don’t like to be too warm, I hate the hot summer months when my house flowers wilt in the heat . Most florists recommend that flowers are chilled before they are arranged as this can make them live at least double their normal lifespan. I suggest you check with your florist if the flowers have been in the chillier and if not place them in the fridge. Guidelines suggest six hours, but I am not sure that I would have the nerve, or the space to leave them that long.

When you have arranged your flowers keep them in a cool place away from sources of heat, watch out if you put them near the T.V. or a computer as these appliances give heat out and will affect how long your flowers last.


My mum always says to put a small pin prick near the top of the tulip to stop it falling over- sometimes it works!


When you get your flowers you will need to cut off any excess foliage around the stems of the flowers, all this foliage will be below the water line in the vase and will rot easily if left on.

If you cut about one inch off the end of each stem with a sharp knife at an angle , so you don’t tear the stems, this will increase the surface area of the stems and enable them to take up more water. Don’t forget to use a clean knife to avoid spread of bacteria.

It is a good idea to re cut your flower stems every three or four days as this fresh cut enables the flower to draw the water up more efficiently and re hydrate. At the same time it is a good idea to change the water in the vase, you will be amazed at how dirty the water is.

Daffodils in a glass vase!
Daffodils in a glass vase! | Source

Treat daffodils with care

I love the first signs of Spring when daffodis come into bud. If you have daffodils then keep them apart from other flowers because they emit a discharge which is poisonous to other flowers.

Water Temperature

Most people find that it is best to put their flowers into warm water rather than cold; unless you have daffodils or tulips when cold water is found to be best!

The Little Packet of powder

Most of the time when we buy flowers we are given a little packet of powder and told to add it to the water, sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t, but what is in these packets. The powder usually contains a Biocide which kill the bacteria that accumulates on the stem of the flowers, an acid , which helps the water move upwards as the flower, even though it has been cut from the mother plant is still alive and still needs to drink. The powder also contains sugar which acts as a plant food as the flower needs both food and water to survive and last longer.

This lady advocates the addition of a little bleach to the water- I have done this and it has worked, though I am not brave enough to try it on an expensive arrangement!

A posy of flowers fresh from the garden
A posy of flowers fresh from the garden | Source

Other things you can try

I have read of these remedies to keep your flowers fresh but have not used them myself.

A crushed aspirin added to the water

A crushed multi vitamin tablet added to the water

One Teaspoon of Sugar

Pinch of Salt and a teaspoon of baking soda

A copper penny coin

2 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar

A mixture of vodka and sugar!


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