Flower Bouquets: How to Keep Them Looking Fresh

Flowers in a Vase


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Here are quick tips on how to keep flowers looking fresh and at their best—whether you have cut fresh flowers from your own garden or brought some home from the store.

When to Cut Flowers

  • Cut garden flowers in the morning or early evening, when the stalks are filled with water. Midday heat is stressful to plants, causing them to wither more readily when cut.  
  • For most flowers, avoid picking when in full bloom or they won't last as long; pick when they are just starting to show color. (Note: This isn't true of roses which do not continue to develop.)

How to Cut Flowers

  • Always use a sharp knife. Avoid scissors, which can pinch the water channels of the stalks. 
  • Place the stems straight into a bucket of clean water or as soon as possible after cutting.
  • If possible, leave the flowers in their bucket of water in a cool, dark spot for a few hours to let them stabilize before arranging. Even better, leave them overnight.

Selecting a Vase

  • Use a vase that's large enough to provide plenty of room for all the stems, with a mouth that's wide enough to allow for good air circulation. 

How to Make Flowers Last Longer

Preparing the Cut Flowers

  • Strip all the leaves from the bottom half to two-thirds of each stem. Do not have any leaves below the water line.
  • Re-cut the stems. Don't worry about cutting flower stems at an angle if you're simply arranging them in a vase. It doesn't make much difference to the flower. But a slanted cut helps if you are using floral foam; a stem with a point is easier to insert.
  • If you want to shorten the stems on cut flowers before arranging them, cut their stems underwater; otherwise, the stem can take in too much air, causing a blockage that keeps water from the flower. (This is especially true of roses.) Floral-supply companies sell underwater cutters; or you can cut a flower in the garden, immediately submerge the stem in warm water, and cut it again in the house while holding it below the water line.

Display the bouquet away from full sun and hot and cold drafts. If you have a choice, keep it in your coolest room.

We hope these tips are helpful! We'd love to hear YOUR tips and which type of cut flowers you enjoy most!

Reader Comments

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Change the water in the vase

Change the water in the vase frequently.

As I learned from a flower

As I learned from a flower shop owner back in the seventies, the best way to keep flowers fresh for long periods of time is to cut the stems at an angle and use Sevenup soda instead of water. We have used this successfully ever since then.

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