As soon as you cut a flower, its lifespan becomes limited. If you are picking flowers from your own garden, avoid cutting flowers that are already in full, perfect bloom, since they will start to fade after only a day or two. Many flowers may be cut when they are still buds, with just a little bit of color showing, and then forced to bloom indoors, allowing you to enjoy their beauty and fragrance longer. Some flowers that you can force to bloom after they've been cut include lilies, gladiolus, daffodils and tulips. You can also use this technique with branches from pussy willows, lilacs or forsythia.
Choose your flowers carefully. Don't cut flowers too soon, or the buds will be underdeveloped and won't blossom. Flower buds should be full and should show a hint of color.
Cut your flowers with a sharp pair of garden shears. Cutting the stems at an angle opens up more surface area to absorb water. If you are cutting twigs off of trees, split the ends about two inches up from the bottom.
Arrange your flowers and place them in a vase with warm (but not hot) water. The water should be no warmer than wrist temperature. Warm water will speed up the flowers' growth and will hasten the bloom.
Place your vase in a location away from direct sunlight. The air temperature should be around 60 to 75 degrees F.
Change the water every day. You may also want to re-cut the ends once or twice over the course of the cut flowers' lifespan. Flowers such as lilies or daffodils will open in a day or two, gladiolus will open over the course of a week, and pussy willow or forsythia will bloom in one to three weeks.
Fill the vase with ice water after the flowers have opened. Cold water slows down growth and will lengthen the cut flowers' lifespan.