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How to make bouquets of cut flowers last much longer.

Updated on June 2, 2014
Never remove the thorns from rose stems.
Never remove the thorns from rose stems.

Make cut flowers really work for you and last longer.

Learn how to make your cut flowers last much longer and they will make your house look great for longer too. Nothing makes a house look brighter, smell nicer, or lift the mood better, than a nice big bouquet of cut flowers in a vase, except maybe two of them.

Cut flowers can be very expensive, though, especially in the winter and so you really want to get the most out of them and help them to last as long as possible. You really do want to get your money's worth.

In this case a little knowledge goes a long way, you don't need to be a botanist or even have green fingers. Just keep these simple tips in mind when you receive your next bouquet of cut flowers or decide to treat yourself and you will keep your flowers looking fresh for a lot longer..

Although I have said that it isn't necessary to be a botanist, It does helps to know a little bit about the actual structure of flowers and their stems. When a flower stem is cut small screens that allow water through but not air, cause a tiny bubble of air to form on the base of the stem.

If this is not removed the flower won’t be able to make use of the water and will effectively dry out and die, even when it is standing in a vase full of clean water. So you have to act quickly to stop this drying out process.

The first thing to do when you get home with your bunch of cut flowers is to trim the stems, this will release any air bubbles and allow the stems to start taking up water again. Always cut the stems on a slant, to expose as much cut stem surface as possible. Use a sharp knife but not scissors. If your flowers are wrapped, then cut the stems before you take off the covering as this will keep them in an nice shape and help you to make a level cut.


Removing those leaves that will be under water will also increase the life of your cut flowers.

You should always leave the thorns on roses as the scar left behind will shorten their cut life considerably.

In fact, if you remove the thorns, you might even find your beautiful bunch of roses has withered away overnight.

The leaves turn brown and the stems give off a very unpleasant smell when the thorns have been removed.


Treat them well and cut flowers will last longer.

A beautiful bouquet of cut flowers.
A beautiful bouquet of cut flowers.


Purple iris.
Purple iris.

Flowers from your garden..

Cut flowers last far longer and will look better if kept relatively cool, so keep vases away from direct sunlight and away from heat sources such as fires or radiators. If your fridge is big enough, or empty enough, you can place the vase of flowers in it for a few hours before placing it in your home. It will make them last longer but I never seem to have the space or time to do it. If it is wintertime just place your flowers outside for a while before bringing them inside, it works just as well as putting them in the fridge.


If you are going to cut a bouquet of flowers from your own garden to use to brighten your home then try to cut them in the early evening, the flowers will have had a day to store water and food and will look their best for far longer than flowers cut in the morning. I love cutting one or two stems from my patch of purple Iris, they look very dramatic and keep fresh looking for over a week.


Always use a very clean vase, one that has had a little bleach added to the final rinse water works best. Don’t be tempted to add bleach to the flower water as even a small amount will smell and really doesn’t do much for the cut flowers at all.

The only exception to this rule is to add one or two drops of very weak bleach only to a large vase full of water.


The benefits of using flower food.

Very often cut flowers that you buy already come with a small packet of cut flower food that can be added to the water, these work just fine but in my experience the water that the flowers are in needs changing long before the flowers begin to wilt. Even though one of the main ingredients and main purpose of these plant foods is to reduce the bacteria in the water, they don’t eliminate the smell of stale water. You can divide the flower food into two portions that way it will last through the first change of water, I have found that this works quite well, especially if it is a good quality plant food.

Nothing makes a house smell worse than that slightly damp, musty smell of water that has been standing around too long. It’s like coming home from a vacation and finding a pair of forgotten wet socks hidden by the side of the washing machine. Not a good smell at all!

Most household tap water has a PH level that is a little too high for cut flowers to tolerate for long periods and any plant food either commercial or homemade has to include something to lower the PH levels to work well. Citric acid is very effective at lowering these PH levels and is present in citric fruit such as lemons, oranges and limes. If you use coloured vases a good squeeze from one of these fruits will work just fine but they can stain so are no good if your vases are clear. Use lemonade or sprite instead, but as the cut flowers also need sugar then don’t use the diet variety as they won’t work anywhere near as well. If you only have the diet variety of soda available then add a teaspoon of sugar to the liquid and stir well before adding the cut flowers. This method works just as well.

This is a good way to use up the last drops from your soda bottles as the flowers won’t care if the lemonade is flat. Use a half and half mixture, half tap water and half soda. If you do use homemade flower food such as this you will need to change the water every two days as the sugar increases the growth of bacteria, but that seems a fair trade off to keep your flowers looking good for longer..

Another useful homemade cut flower food is to mix two tablespoons of sugar with two tablespoons of white vinegar in two pints of lukewarm water. Whether you use commercial or home made cut flower food the water will need to be changed every second or third day to get the most from your flowers. Always remember to re- cut the stems when you change the water. You only need to take off a sliver of stem for it to have an effect, so you won't lose much height from your arrangement.

Some flowers are like some people, they like to be alone. Daffodils produce toxins that will kill any other flowers placed in a vase with them so always give them their own space.


Daffodils look best on their own in a simple glass vase.

Golden daffodils.
Golden daffodils.

Spring has arrived.

I love spring, when the days start to get that little bit brighter and that little bit longer it just makes you feel better about just about everything. The garden coming to life if a big part of that feeling for me.

What could look nicer to brighten your home in the springtime than a simple glass bowl filled with golden yellow daffodils.Daffodils are cheap and cheerful, they are easy to grow yourself from bulbs and once planted they multiply and come up year after year. I have so many of them growing around the garden that from very early in the year I have a bowl of them in almost every room in my house. They seem to fit with just about any colour scheme. They always say spring to me better than any other flower and let me know that the long hot days of summer are just around the corner.

Daffodils blooming in the garden mean spring has arrived, or at the very least is just around the corner waiting to rush in. After a long, cold winter they are a very welcome visitor to my house. Cut daffodils will keep for a long time if you remember to change the water every other day. Pick the flowers when they are still in bud, they will open out in a day or so in a warm room. I sometimes plant a few bulbs in a small pot and keep that indoors, the smaller variety such as tete-a-tete work really well for this.

Follow these few simple rules to make your cut flowers last longer and stay fresh looking,


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    nn 4 years ago

    I take pict

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 5 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thank you so much rajan jolly, for the comment and the votes. I will check out your hub after you publish it.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Galaxy, this is a very informative hub & well laid out. The benefits of flower food section is very useful.

    I am including a link to this hub in my hub" How to keep cut flowers fresh longer" which I'm publishing tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Voted up, useful and beautiful.

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 5 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thank you for commenting, Thelma ALberts. Flowers can cost a small fortune so making them last as long as possible is always going to be a good thing.

  • Thelma Alberts profile image

    Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

    Thanks for sharing this very informative and useful hub. Now I know how to make my flowers last longer on my vase. Thanks a lot.

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 5 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thanks RTalloni, my own daffs are yet to show themselves above ground, I think it's going to be a few weeks until I have enough to fill a vase. Hope my tips help keep yours looking fresher for longer.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

    Our daffodils are just beginning to pop--thanks for great tips on feeding bouquets of cut flowers!

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 7 years ago from United Kingdom

    Well if Tesco value is anything like the smart price stuff at Asda it probably isn't that strong! I'll try adding just a very small amount of bleach next time and see how it works, thanks for the tip Caseworker.

  • CASE1WORKER profile image

    CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

    really well written though I have had some success adding a little bleach to the water- its Tesco value so maybe not that strong!

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 7 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thank you for commenting, saleheensblog.