Whenever I splurge on buying fresh cut flowers, I want them to last as long as possible. I think this is the case for most flower buyers, but unfortunately flowers often do not last very long. This can lead to frustration, disappointment and additional spending. I used to work in a floral shop so I know exactly how to make flowers last longer.
When I purchased a bouquet last week for Thanksgiving, I implemented all of my tactics. It’s now been 12 days since the date of purchase and I still have the flowers on my dining room table. Today I’m sharing my secrets so you too can learn how to have a long lasting fresh flower bouquet.
How to Make Flowers Last Longer
What Type of Fresh Cut Flowers?
All of these tips are for fresh cut flowers that you place in water. Some flower arrangements use water absorbing floral foam, also known as Oasis. Those flower arrangements should be cared for in a different manner.
Personally I enjoy fresh cut flowers in the home year round. I grow a lot of annual flowers in my garden each year and will bring them inside to enjoy them. However, once the season is over I usually get a little down and out and find myself wanting to enjoy flowers again.
This is when I begin buying fresh cut flowers. After making the purchase, of course, I want the flowers to last as long as possible so that I can not only enjoy them, but also so I’m not spending a small fortune on flowers every week!
Fresh Cut Flower Tools
Before getting started, you will want to gather a few necessary supplies to make flowers last longer (outside of the actual flowers themselves). Below are the tools you will need:
- Fresh Cut Flowers
- Glass Vase (size should mirror size of bouquet)
- Floral Shears (or a sharp floral knife)
- Flower Food
- Cold Water and Ice Cubes
Open and Clean the Flowers
After you arrive home with your flowers or they are delivered, place them immediately in cold water. When I purchased my last bouquet I also purchased $75 worth of groceries. I had to put my food away first and do a few things around the house before I could care for my fresh cut flowers. I pulled out a vase, filled it with cold water and immediately put the stems in the water.
When I was ready to clean the flowers I removed them from the water and carefully cut the protective plastic off. Remove any dead blooms or leaves, also remove any foliage that will fall below the water line. At this time I also arrange the bouquet to how I would like it in the vase.
Cut the Fresh Flowers
Use a 45-Degree Angle
Using floral shears or a sharp floral knife (preferred but a little more challenging learning curve) cut the stems at a 45-degree angle (or a little more as in the photo above), and then place the stems in water. I use floral shears I’ve had since I worked in the floral shop. They work well for my needs, however, the floral knife does a better job of not “smashing” the stems during cutting.
Make sure your shears or knife are sharp and clean for best results. The knife takes some learning and not everyone will be comfortable with it so use your own discretion. Your floral shears or knife should only be used on flower stems you should not use it on household tasks or other items.
The cutting angle is important to allow the stems to have more surface area and absorb more water. Additionally you want to cut your flowers at home because they usually do have a little brown or dryness at the bottom. Any dry or brown parts of the stem need to be removed.
Use Floral Food to Extend Shelf Life
This is key! I’ve had the most success by using professional grade flower food to extend the life of my fresh cut flowers. Typically when you purchase a bouquet there will be a tiny bag of floral food attached to the plastic. If you are lucky the floral shop will offer you an extra packet.
But to be honest in order to get my flowers to last two weeks I need to refresh the water several times and add a new batch of flower food. I purchased FloraLife and use it at home. This is the exact flower food used in the professional flower shops. I will change water, recut stems and add new FloraLife every 2-3 days.
Place the Stems in Cold Water
Be sure to use cold water for filling the vase. I use tap water without issue. I usually put the flower food in the vase first and then I add a little water, swirl it around until it mixes and the food dissolves. Then I will add ice cubes to the vase.
In the floral shops flowers are stored in coolers until you remove them and purchase them. Cold temperatures help extend the shelf life (but not below freezing). I have found success by tossing ice cubs in the vase. Often if I’m not ready to change the water completely but need to add more water I’ll add a few ice cubes to the vase in the morning.
It’s very important to add more water to the vase as it disappears. The flowers will drink it up and especially when you have the heat on or its the warmth of summer I will notice the water disappear quickly. If your flowers lose water they will dry out and go bad quickly. If the water is cloudy or muddy it should also be refreshed.
Bonus Tips for Making Flowers Last Longer
Those tips above are what I would recommend you do every time you purchase fresh flowers in order to make them last a long time. The steps can basically be repeated over and over until the flowers are spent and need to be thrown out. That being said, I want to offer a few more bonus tips I learned over the years and through my experience working at a florist.
- Purchase flowers from a reputable florist or flower company if possible. When I worked in a floral shop we were a FTD shop meaning we would take orders, make them and deliver flowers. We had to maintain high standards in the quality of the flowers and arrangements to be a FTD florist. Today you can even order flowers online through FTD.
- If you are buying flowers at a shop yourself, sometimes the bouquets are dated by the shop. Look for the best date, pick flowers from the back of the display as they are usually the new flowers. I prefer to buy flowers that are tight and not bloomed out they are usually fresher and bloom out quickly at home.
- Additional tips for cleaning your flowers including removing the pollen from blooms such as lilies and removing spent or outer petals on roses to clean them. As you enjoy your flowers, if any flowers are spent or wilt, remove them from the vase immediately. Some varieties last longer (such as mums and carnations) than others.
- Keep fresh cut flowers out of direct sunlight and place them in a cooler area of the home, if possible.
- If you purchase flowers in the winter make sure the florist covers them with tissue paper or plastic. If it’s below freezing out, cold temperatures can damage the flowers. If your flowers are delivered to your home on a cold day, such as through a FTD florist, follow tracking information and try to bring your flowers inside your home ASAP.
How to Make Flowers Last Longer
I hope these insider tips from someone who worked in a floral shop help you to enjoy fresh cut flowers for a long time. Having flowers in the home is really enjoyable especially in the winter. I find having a little green inside year-round really brightens my mood and having fresh cut flowers is a nice hobby to enjoy as well.
What fresh cut flower questions do you have?