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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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    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 3 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Vickiw- you are so right about bereavement flowers- everyone sends them to the church or the crematorium but it those left behind who benefit. When my father died my aunt and uncle sent some by inter flora ( they live in Australia) and it really did bring some comfort to my mother Thanks for your visit

    • profile image

      Vickiw 3 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading this. I always encourage members of my bereavement group to buy flowers for themselves if that is what the loved one they lost used to do, and it is so good to have them last the longest time possible. It is great to have so many alternatives for this!

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      I left my latest bunch in the car overnight by mistake- they seem to be thriving- thank you for your visit and your kind comment

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Good ideas for keeping flowers fresh. I often take my daughter cut flowers from my garden I will have to give her this list for keeping them fresh. Voted up.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Thank you for your visit Graham- with Spring nearly in the air it wont be too long before we will welcome the spring flowers- I can't wait til the daffodils are out

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      A really informative hub, I shall save it for future reference. Well done.

      Voted up and following.


    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      I think you will find that most florists have coo rooms- In the winter when the heating is on we place flowers in our cold kitchen and then put them in the living room when all are home- seems to prolong them a little

    • Beltane73 profile image

      Holly Kline 4 years ago from South Jersey

      I didn't know about chilling flowers! Great idea. I do the bleach trick and find it works really well. Upvoted and Useful!

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Frank Atanacio- thanks for your visit-Nice to see a guy sort of admitting to liking flowers

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      Caseworker what avery useful hub.. yeah even for guys LOL voted useful :) Frank

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      StephenCowry- yes you are so right- it is awful when they die after a few days- I think the chilling tip is one of the best

    • StephenCowry profile image

      StephenCowry 4 years ago

      When I buy flowers for a special someone it only takes a few days and it slowly dies. It would really be awesome if it can take much longer so she can see it all fresh in her room for long. Great hub to apply!

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Victoria Stephens- Thanks for your visit- now you wont want to buy flowers without it!

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 4 years ago from London

      I've always wondered what that powder was that comes with some bunches of flowers, now I know. Thank you.x

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Red Elf- Thanks for your visit- I had a beautiful arrangement for my birthday - the roses were dead within four days- its so sad- I think they had been "kept" a little while at the florists!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 4 years ago from Canada

      I have seen the copper penny trick work, as well as adding a teaspoon of sugar. I have been told to start roses in hot water, let the water cool, then dump it out and add fresh water with the little packet dissolved in that water. That seems to work well.

      Then again, sometimes the flowers just seem to wilt quickly no matter what I do. LOVE the photo of sweet peas - looks like a watercolor painting.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      MS Dee- Thanks for your visit- I guess we think "well the water is clean", and as for the chilling I guess that how they manage to keep flowers fresh for days like Valentine's Day and mothers day when the demand is greater!

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      I have no 'green thumb' at all. I'd never stopped to think, therefore, that the temperature where the flowers are kept needs to be considered, and to guard against bacteria by using a clean knife. Good information! I'd wondered how often to re-cut the flower stem. Thanks for this post.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Eiddwen- Thank you for your comment and best wishes

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting and useful

      Take care and enjoy your day.


    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      ComfortB- It'sjust so annoying when they don't last, especially if they are a present. I would try the other remedies on bunches of cheaper flowers...............just in case..thanks for tour visit

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Yes, I got a dozen red roses for my birthday last month and I missed using the accompanying packet for the arrangements. It lasted only about 4 days.

      These are very useful tips on keeping fresh flowers longer. I especially like your 'other remedies list'. We'll be sure to try them out.

      Thanks for sharing. Voted Up and Useful!

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