Whether you are cutting flowers from your garden for arrangements or purchasing a bouquet from a florist, you'll want to keep the flowers fresh and attractive for as long as possible. Cut flowers are completely removed from their root system, so they have no further access to the nutrients the roots supplied. They are completely dependent on you to provide these nutrients. It isn't as simple as just providing water; you must work to replace what the roots used to provide.
Wash the vase or container in hot, soapy water. Rinse completely and allow to dry.
Cut flowers from the garden just as the flower buds begin to open, as new buds will not form once the stem is cut. Cut the stem off at an angle with a knife and immediately place them in lukewarm water.
Cut 1 inch off the bottom of the stem at an angle on florist flowers. Hold the stem underwater while cutting it so no air bubbles enter the stem and stop the water absorption process.
Strip off any leaves that will be underwater in the vase. These will rot underwater and lead to bacteria production in the water.
Fill the vase with warm water and add a floral preservative, available from florists, following package instructions.
You can also mix your own preservative by combining 2 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tbsp. sugar and 1/4 tsp. bleach in 1 quart of water. Fill the vase with the solution.
Remove flower stems or cut off spent blooms as soon as they fade, leaving only those with healthy buds still in the vase. Re-cut the stem at an angle underwater if the stems begin to weaken while the flowers are still attractive.
Replace the water if it becomes discolored or if dead plant material falls off into it. Add fresh floral preservative when refilling.