How to Care for Cut Flowers

Cut flowers are a welcome gift in any home, whether you receive a bouquet for Valentine's Day, a Birthday, Mother's Day, or you just decided to treat yourself to something beautiful.

When buying them from a florist, there are several things you can do to prolong the life of cut flowers. 

Start with High-Quality Flowers

Flower selection is an important step. Choose flowers that are just coming into bloom before pollen is loose. When choosing flowers at the florist, avoid soft, limp blossoms and buds and discolored or drooping foliage. When purchasing flowers, select those known to have a long vase life and buy from a quality florist. cut flowers

Clean Vase

Begin with a clean vase.  Wash previously used containers with hot, soapy water to remove debris and destroy bacteria and fungi that may shorten the life of the cut flowers. 

Keep Leaves Out of the Water

Remove all foliage that will be below the water line in the vase.  Submerged plant foliage may decay and shorten the life of the cut flowers.

Make a Fresh Cut

To promote water uptake by the cut flowers, cut off the bottom ½ to 1 inch of the stems with a sharp knife.  Immediately place the cut flowers in a vase. Scissors can also be used, but they are more likely to crush the end of the stem which can block some water uptake.

Add Floral Preservative

Add a commercial floral preservative to the water to prolong the life of the cut flowers.  A small packet of floral preservatives comes with most cut flowers.  Simply follow the directions on the packet.  Avoid using home concoctions to prolong vase life, such as aspirin, bleach, lemon-lime soda, rusty nails, pennies, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, or any other ingredient.  None of these ingredients or mixtures will work as well as a floral preservative; some may even shorten the vase life of your flowers. 

Keep it Bright and Cool

Place the cut flowers in a cool, brightly lit location in the home or office.  Keep the flowers away from heat sources and drafts.

Check and Change the Water

Regular water changes are one of the most effective ways to prolong the vase life of your cut flowers. Check the water level daily and add water when necessary.  Completely change the water if it becomes cloudy or begins to smell. 

Authors:
Last reviewed:
February 2023