6 Tips for Making Fresh Flowers Last Longer

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

I love getting fresh flowers — hint, hint, husband! — but what I don’t love is how quickly they fade. I hate getting a gorgeous bouquet, only to toss it a few days later when the petals start to brown, the leaves are drooping, and the water has turned into a murky mess. And the smell! There are few smells worse than a vase stew of rotting stems and leaves.

But with a little maintenance and a few tricks, you can get extra days of enjoyment out of your cut flowers. Here are a few things you can do to keep your bouquet looking fresh for longer.

1. Cut the stems.

Unless the florist just handed you freshly arranged flowers, your bouquet has probably spent some time in transit to get to your doorstep. Most flowers benefit from cutting the stems at an angle with kitchen shears (although flowers with woodier stems, like hydrangeas, like to have their stems smashed). A clean, angled slice will remove any rot and give the stems more surface area to absorb water.

2. Trim off extra leaves.

Any vegetation in your vase’s water is going to rot (leading to that terrible smell!), and those thin, fibrous leaves will rot faster than your flower’s stems. So remove any leaves that will sit under the surface of your water. Don’t worry — there will still be plenty of leaves left to make your bouquet look full!

3. Use lukewarm water.

Get your flowers into water as soon as possible. But know this: If the water is too hot or too cold, it will shock the flowers — and that’s not good! Treat them like Goldilocks and give them water that’s juuuust right.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

4. Feed them!

If your bouquet comes with a preservative packet, use it! It contains a mix of chemicals to nourish the plant and inhibit bacterial growth. If you don’t have a packet, make this mixture: Add a tablespoon of sugar and two tablespoons of lemon juice per quart of water. (Our bouquet was a small one, so we did one teaspoon of sugar and two teaspoons of lemon juice.) Some people add bleach to further prevent bacterial growth, but it’s not necessary.

5. Place them in a temperate spot.

More Goldilocks-ing: Rooms that are too warm or areas with direct sunlight will cause your flowers to wilt more quickly. Try to keep them in a cool, shady place.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

6. Repeat!

It’s ideal to change the water every one or two days — before it gets cloudy! When you do, scrub the vase’s interior, re-trim the stems and add your nourishing and bacteria-defying mix to the water at the same time. Pull out the duds that haven’t seemed to hold up as well as the others.

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