Orchids are tropical flowers that don't take well to long-term cold temperatures for storage, unlike other flowers. While you might put other flowers in ice water, this won't work for orchids. There are thousands of species of wild orchids that developed in various tropical regions so they don't like the cold, according to Gustave Schoser, author of "Orchid Growing Basics." The orchids used for cut flower arrangements and corsages are cattleya, dendrobium, paphiopedilum, vanda and phalaenopsis, according to the University of California, Davis.
Wait until the orchids have opened on the stem before cutting. Buds will not open if cut prematurely. Cut the entire spray after the majority of buds have opened in smaller orchids like phalaenopsis or moth orchids.
Cut large orchids, such as cattleya, from the stem as they open, leaving the other buds intact. The flowers are large and showy enough to be used as a centerpiece for an arrangement.
Place the stems of the orchid spray in room-temperature water. Place the stem of the larger orchids in small glasses of water.
Keep vanda, cattleya, phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids stored for only up to 14 days at a temperature of between 40 to 45 degrees F. The flowers will last longer on the plant, up to seven weeks, than in cold storage. Cold damage results in browned petals.
Store orchids for a week at temperatures between 50 to 55 degrees F and 0 to 95 percent humidity.
Re-cut the stems of the orchids just before arranging. Place the short stems in water-filled floral picks, available at craft stores. The pick has a pointed end for inserting into floral foam. The top has a rubber stopper that fits over the end. Once the stem has been inserted, the rubber forms a seal.