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How to Keep Fresh Flowers Longer

Looking for ways to prolong the life of your fresh-cut flowers? Learn how to keep fresh flowers longer in a few simple steps.


Whether you grow your own flowers to cut or pick them up at the local market, there’s nothing quite like a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers.

While I’ve been growing beautiful flower gardens throughout my landscape for over 20 years, I was not cutting much of the blooms to enjoy indoors.

Isn’t that crazy?

I chose not to cut a lot because I grow several different plant varieties on half an acre of property. This might sound like a lot, but because there are so many different plants, I enjoy them more IN my garden rather than inside my home.

But I’ve changed my tune. To break away from that line of thinking, I decided to focus more on growing flowers that are better for cutting.

A few years ago, I started growing dahlias. They really stole my heart! There are so many different unique varieties and they make a great late summer/early fall addition to the cottage garden.

And because I loved growing them so much, I decided to start seeds indoors and expand my gardens to include more flowers for cutting. I grew well over 1000 flowers indoors that are not readily available at local nurseries.

And because I grew almost too many flowers for cutting, I’ve been heading out almost daily to make new arrangements, bouquets, and centerpieces for myself, family, and friends. It’s been pure joy to play with flowers all season long.

As I’ve been making several bouquets, I’ve learned a few good tips to prolong the life of fresh-cut flowers.

Here’s what you need to do.

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how to set a cozy fall harvest table

How Long Can You Keep Flowers Fresh in a Vase?

The lifespan of flowers in a vase can vary depending on the type of flower, its freshness when cut, and the care it receives in the vase.

However, in general, most cut flowers can last for around 5-7 days in a vase if properly cared for.

Some varieties, such as roses, lilies, and chrysanthemums, may last longer than others, while more delicate flowers, like tulips and daffodils, may not last as long.

That said, there are things we can do to help prolong the life of flowers in an arrangement.

last bouquet of flowers from the cutting garden in 2022

How to Keep Fresh Flowers Longer

There’s nothing like a beautiful arrangement of fresh-cut flowers, am I right? I wish they’d last longer than they do. But there are a few ways to keep them around for longer.

Because let’s face it. Flowers make people happy and if you get a bouquet on a special occasion or you cut them from your garden, you want them to last as long as possible.

Follow these tips to keep flowers fresher for longer.

vintage thrift store find shutters with milk glass vase and fresh cut flowers from the garden
Fresh Cut Flower Arrangement From My Garden

Always Start With a Clean Vase or Floral Foam

To eliminate harmful bacteria, always clean your vase or container vessel with 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.

And if you are using floral foam? Don’t re-use it.

I know it might seem more economical to get a few uses out of it, but the flowers DO NOT APPRECIATE the economics as much as we do.

So always start with fresh blocks. If you want to cut down on costs, cut the blocks down to a minimum size for use.

THESE are the floral foam blocks I’ve been using.

how to keep fresh flowers longer
Wash container vessels well with one part bleach to 10 parts water.

Prepare Each Flower for the Arrangement

Preparing flowers for an arrangement involves a few key steps to ensure that they are fresh, hydrated, and ready to be arranged. Before making a fresh flower arrangement, it’s important to prepare the flowers before dropping them in a vase.

If you are cutting your own flowers, start with the freshest flowers you can find. Look for flowers that are just starting to open, with sturdy stems and bright, vibrant colors.

And remove any leaves or thorns from the lower part of the stems that will be submerged in water. This will help prevent bacteria growth and keep the water clean.

Gardener stacy ling Cutting zinnias - Cut flower gardening is so fun! Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling
Cut Flower Gardening For Beginners

How to Re-Cut the Stems

A great way to prepare them is to re-cut the stems so they can absorb water and nutrients more easily.

  • When cutting your own flowers, always cut them at a 45-degree angle. Cutting them at a 45-degree angle keeps them from sitting flat and promotes better water consumption.
  • Drop fresh cuts immediately in room temperature water.
  • Remove all leaves and lower stems that will sit in any water. Anything left under the waterline will rot and cause the flowers to prematurely decline in the arrangement.
  • If some time elapsed after cutting your blooms, I make a second fresh cut on a 45-degree angle just before I drop it in the arrangement.
  • Tip: whenever you are cutting flowers, make sure you clean your snips in between varieties so you don’t pass any problems to other plants.

Cutting the stems at an angle with a sharp knife or scissors can help to create a larger surface area for water uptake, allowing the flowers to absorb more water and nutrients. This can help to keep the flowers hydrated and healthy, which can improve their longevity and overall appearance.

How to Make a Hydrangea Wreath for Free
Always cut flowers on a 45 degree angle.

Feeding Fresh-Cut Flowers to Prolong Their Vase Life

To extend the vase life of a flower arrangement, it’s important to feed the bouquet. Cut flower food provides a great source of nutrition for centerpieces, bouquets, and flower arrangements.

First, flower food provides essential nutrients that help to nourish the flowers and prolong their lifespan. These nutrients include sugars to provide energy for the flowers, citric acid to regulate the pH of the water, and bleach to prevent the growth of bacteria that can clog the stem and cause the flowers to wilt.

Second, flower food also contains ingredients that help to keep the water clean and clear, which can help prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi that can damage the flowers.

Lastly, flower food can help improve the overall quality and appearance of the flowers, promoting vibrant colors, strong stems, and healthy foliage.

Thus, using flower food can significantly improve the longevity and beauty of fresh-cut flowers in a vase, making it an important step in caring for them.

HERE is one of the types that I use.

Dahlia 'Jowey Winnie'
Dahlia ‘Jowey Winnie’

How to Make Fresh-Cut Flower Food

If your arrangement didn’t come with flower food or you don’t want to buy your own, you can easily DIY a cut flower food recipe using 2 aspirins, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and a few drops of bleach (to kill harmful bacteria).

It is harder to feed fresh-cut flowers if they are sitting in floral foam, so I use that formula per quart of water when watering the blooms. This method seems to help.

how to keep fresh flowers longer
Keep flowers hydrated with clean water.

Keep the Water Clean

Changing the water in a vase is important to keep flowers fresh longer because stale or contaminated water can cause bacteria to grow in the vase. This bacteria can clog the stems of the flowers, preventing them from absorbing water properly and causing them to wilt more quickly.

By changing the water in the vase every 2-3 days, you can help prevent the growth of bacteria and keep the water fresh and clean. This ensures that the flowers have a consistent supply of clean water and nutrients, which can improve their lifespan and overall appearance.

In addition to changing the water, it’s also important to clean the vase thoroughly before refilling it with fresh water to prevent any bacteria or debris from contaminating the new water.

An important note about watering thought. Do not use hot water because it’s not good for the flowers. Room-temperature water is best.

How to Keep Fresh Flowers Longer
Fresh cut flowers from my backyard garden

Re-cut Stems When You Change the Water

When you change the water of your fresh flower arrangement, it’s a good idea to recut the stems because, over time, the ends of the stems can become clogged with bacteria and air bubbles, which can prevent the flowers from absorbing water and nutrients properly.

By recutting the stems, you remove any blockages and create a fresh surface area for water absorption, which can help to extend the life of the flowers.

When recutting the stems, it’s important to cut them at a 45-degree angle, which can help to prevent the ends of the stems from resting flat against the bottom of the vase and obstructing water uptake.

flowers and pumpkin centerpiece idea for the dining table set on a bistro table on the porch
Fresh cut flowers from my fall garden

Keep Fresh Flowers Out of Direct Sunlight

It is important to keep fresh-cut flowers out of direct sunlight because the heat and UV rays from the sun can cause the flowers to wilt and dry out more quickly. The heat can cause the flowers to lose moisture through transpiration, while the UV rays can damage the pigments in the flowers, causing them to fade or discolor.

Additionally, direct sunlight can cause the water in the vase to become too warm, which can stimulate bacterial growth and further shorten the lifespan of the flowers.

To keep your flowers fresh and healthy for as long as possible, it’s best to place them in a cool, shaded area away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and drafts. This will help to slow down the aging process of the flowers and maintain their vibrant colors and delicate beauty.

I also suggest putting them in a location where if it leaks any water, you won’t damage anything. Or you can use something like THIS or THIS under your arrangement, depending on how fancy you want to get.

Fresh cut flowers from the cut flower garden on a thift store find end table with vintage shutters
Fresh Cut Flowers From My Garden

Remove Wilted Blooms and Petals

As your fresh flower arrangement ages, it’s a good idea to remove any wilted flowers or foliage that looks brown, saggy, or otherwise unhealthy. Wilted flowers and petals can cause bacterial growth and decay, which can spread to the other flowers and shorten the lifespan of the arrangement.

As flowers age and wilt, they begin to produce bacteria that can clog the stems and prevent the flowers from absorbing water and nutrients. This can cause the flowers to wilt and die more quickly. Not to mention, it can also lead to an unpleasant odor and slimy water in the vase.

By removing the flowers and foliage that are no longer healthy, you can help prevent bacterial growth and ensure that the remaining flowers stay healthy and hydrated.

Additionally, removing wilted flowers and petals can help improve the overall appearance of the arrangement. Removing them can help the remaining flowers stand out and create a more vibrant and visually appealing arrangement.

But that really depends on the types of flowers you have because some look more beautiful as they take on a more vintage look. So depending on the aesthetic you want, you may or may not want to remove flowers that become faded or discolored. Just understand that leaving them can impact the vase life of the more vibrant blooms.

close up of a snapdragon and zinnia arrangement I made with fresh flowers from the cut flower garden on a farmhouse table

More About Keeping Flowers Fresher for Longer

How do you make your fresh-cut flowers last longer? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it on the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

Happy Gardening!

How to make Fresh flowers last longer

How to Arrange Flowers Like a Pro

Looking for ways to make your own flower arrangement?

Arranging flowers can be a fun and rewarding activity, but it can also be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re not sure where to start. However, with a few simple tips and techniques, anyone can learn how to arrange flowers like a pro.

Whether you’re creating a beautiful centerpiece for a special occasion or just brightening up your home with a fresh bouquet, the key to a stunning floral arrangement is understanding the basic principles of design and having a little creativity.

We’ll explore some of the key elements of flower arranging, from selecting the right flowers and foliage to arranging them in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting. So whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, learn how to create stunning floral arrangements that will wow your friends and family.

centerpiece idea for the dining table with fresh flowers

Want to Learn How to Grow a Cut Flower Garden Too?

Growing a garden that is made for harvesting flowers is a rewarding and fun experience.

And if you want to get started, it’s not too late!

CLICK HERE to see what you need to do to start a cut flower garden.

Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling

Want to See How to Make a Fresh Flower Centerpiece for the Dining Table?

Wait until you see how I made this gorgeous centerpiece for our last dinner party. Every flower and green was cut from my backyard flower garden.

Click on the link below to watch this flower arrangement come together!

YouTube video

To Learn How to Start a Garden From Seed, Check Out These Posts

Starting Seeds Snapdragons

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fresh cut flowers in a vase close up in front of vintage shutters on wood table

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how to keep fresh flowers longer
Before – this arrangement is on it’s way out. Time to make a new one!

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13 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great tips on how to keep fresh flowers longer. And I LOVE your gorgeous floral centerpiece.

    1. Thank you so much Kim! That one might be my favorite so far…except I say that about every single one. hahaha

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