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Tips to Make Flowers Fresh & Last Longer

The season for fresh cut flowers is here! Whether you bring in blooms straight from the garden, receive a beautiful bouquet or get creative with clippings from the florist, you want to make them last. Simply follow these pro tips for keeping fresh cut flowers thriving and you’ll be enjoying your arrangements longer.

Prepare The Vase

Start by choosing and cleaning your vase. Make sure you grab one that will support your flowers, but also won’t crowd them too tightly. Next, wash your vase with soap and water, then rinse and dry thoroughly. This helps prevent leftover residues or bacteria from transferring to your flowers. As you’ll learn, keeping flowers fresh has a lot to do with keeping them bacteria free.

Trim Your Fresh Cut Flowers

Cut the bottoms of your flower stems at an angle with sharp scissors under running water or submerged in water. This fresh cut helps the flowers easily absorb the water and preservative (recipe coming up!) You’ll also want to trim away any foliage bel0w the waterline to help prevent bacteria growth. This step keeps your water from getting that murky, moldy look and smell.
If all of that wasn’t reason enough, removing those lower leaves and unbloomed buds helps keep your main bloom fresh longer by redistributing resources, says third-generation florist and owner of Angelone’s Florist, Jess Angelone to Rodale’s Organic Life.

Make Your Own Flower Preservative

Do you ever wonder what’s in those little packets that come with flowers from the florist? It’s usually a combination of citric acid, sugar and an anti-microbial. Each works together to keep flowers going strong. Acid allows water to flow into the stems. Sugar provides carbohydrates and the anti-microbial keeps the sugar and flowers from growing bacteria or fungi. Here’s a quick recipe to make your own at home:
Fresh Cut Flower Preservative:
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (if you don’t have lemon juice you can replace it and the sugar with lemon-lime soda, approx. 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • A few drops of household bleach
  • 1 quart of warm water

Fresh Water, Fresh Flowers

Now you’re ready to just throw some water in that vase, right? Wrong! First, you want to use warm water to help with absorption and to avoid shocking the stems. Next, let the water sit for a few minutes to let gasses in the water dissipate.
Finally, mix in your preservative. You’ll want to change out the water and add more preservative every one to three days. You can also swish some hot water around in the vase to kill bacteria, recommends Angelone.

Fresh Cut Flower Pruning

Jodie McGregor, a Sydney-based florist, recommends pruning your bouquet to remove wilting or bruised flowers and leaves. They can contaminate the rest of the blooms and cause the arrangement to look less fresh. You can easily incorporate this step into your water-change routine. When you change the water, also make sure to check the stems to see if they seem mushy or closed off. If so, you’ll want to give them another trim.

Placement Is Important

Finally, where you put your flowers is the key to keeping them fresh longer. They need to be kept cool and out of direct sunlight. To extend their life further, you can put your flowers and their their vase right in the refrigerator overnight or during the day, if you’ll be gone. Remember, if you do put your flowers on a kitchen counter or in the fridge, keep them away from fruits and vegetables. They give off ethylene gas, which will wilt your flowers super fast.

Other Interesting ways to Make Flowers Last Longer

There’s no need to keep asking yourself how to make flowers last longer. Surprisingly, you might have a few things lying around the house that can help you enjoy your bouquets. Check out the interesting list of household remedies below:
  • Soda
  • Hair Spray
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Vodka
  • Aspirin
  • Sugar


Don't throw away those last drops of soda! Pour about 1/4 cup into the water in a vase full of cut flowers. The sugar in the soda will make the blossoms last longer. Note: If you have a clear vase and want the water to remain clear, use a clear soda, like Sprite or 7-Up.

Hair Spray

Just as it preserves your hairstyle, a spritz of hair spray can help your cut flowers look fresh longer. Stand a foot away from the bouquet and give them a quick spray, just on the undersides of the leaves and petals.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Everyone likes to keep cut flowers around as long as possible, and there are several good methods. One way is to mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar with the vase water before adding the flowers. Be sure to change the water (with more vinegar and sugar, of course) every few days to enhance your flowers' longevity.


The secret to keeping cut flowers looking good as long as possible is to minimize the growth of bacteria in the water and to provide nourishment to replace what the flower would have gotten had it not been cut. Add a few drops of vodka (or any clear spirit) to the vase water for antibacterial action along with 1 teaspoon sugar. Change the water every other day, refreshing the vodka and sugar each time.


It's a tried-and-true way to keep roses and other cut flowers fresh longer: Put a crushed aspirin in the water before adding your flowers. Also, don't forget to change the vase water every few days.


Make your own preservative to keep cut flowers fresh longer. Dissolve 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar per quart (liter) of warm water. When you fill the vase, make sure the cut stems are covered by 3-4 inches (7-10 centimeters) of the prepared water. The sugar nourishes the plants, while the vinegar inhibits bacterial growth. You'll be surprised how long the arrangement stays fresh.