How to Make Fresh Flowers Last


The fragrant smell and beauty of fresh-cut flowers is a welcome addition to any home, but the beauty tends to fade all too soon. If you purchase fresh flower arrangements from a florist, it can quickly become expensive to replace them every time they wilt and begin to turn brown. If you are growing your own flowers, you hate to see all your loving care and effort die in the vase in a matter of days. There are ways to keep your fresh flower arrangements alive and beautiful for longer.

Step 1

Cut flowers from your garden early in the morning. Overnight, the stems fill with water and carbohydrates, but as temperatures warm up throughout the day, flowers become more dehydrated.

Step 2

Cut flowers 1 inch from the main stem, on a 45-degree angle. This allows water to be absorbed more easily. When receiving flowers from the florist, recut the stems before placing them in water.

Step 3

Place flowers in lukewarm water immediately after cutting or receiving. The water temperature should be between 100 degrees and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. "Warm water molecules move faster than cold water molecules and so can be absorbed by flowers with greater ease," the Brooklyn Botanic Garden notes. When cutting in the garden, bring a small bucket with you so that flowers can go directly into water. When exposed to air, flower stems seal up and can form air bubbles that prevent water absorption.

Step 4

Add a preservative to the water. Flowers receive the nutrients they need from soil, but once cut, require a little extra help. Use a commercial preservative according to manufacturer's directions, or make your own. Mix 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. bleach, 2 tsp. lemon juice and 1 qt. of lukewarm water.

Step 5

Keep the flower arrangement in a cool place, out of direct sunlight and away from fruit, which emits ethylene gas as it ripens.

Step 6

Recut the stems every three days for best water absorption.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use household scissors to cut flowers. The blades of regular scissors are gauged for paper and will crush flower stems, which cuts off the vascular system.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial preservative
  • Sugar
  • Bleach
  • Lemon juice


  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden: How to Make Your Fresh-Cut Flowers Last
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Extend the Life of Cut Flowers
Keywords: flower arrangements, flower preservative, cut flowers

About this Author

Catherine Rees lives in a log cabin near Salt Lake City, Utah. She has six years of experience as a freelance writer. Though she specializes in wildlife and outdoor activities, her work also includes topics in relationships, gardening and travel. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah and writes for,, and