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How to Care for Flowers in a Vase

By Kate Carpenter ; Updated September 21, 2017
A vase full of fresh-looking flowers brightens any room.
daisies in vase image by Peter Anderson from Fotolia.com

Whether you pick your flowers from your garden or receive a bouquet, you want your flowers to look fresh and last for as long as possible. When you know how to prepare and care for your flowers in vases, your beautiful bouquet can last two to three weeks without looking wilted and dead.

Flowers From Your Garden

Cut your flowers from your garden in the early morning when their stems are plump with water and fresh. Immediately place your cut flower in a container of cool water while you continue to cut flowers.

Fill your vase with warm water. To this add either florist preservative, at the recommended amount for the size of your vase, or your own mixture of preservative.

Make your own floral perservative by adding a scant teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of lemon juice and 2 or 3 drops of bleach. The sugar and lemon juice will add food and help the flower stems take up water better while the bleach keeps the bacteria growth down that is caused by the sugar and lemon.

Use a sharp pair of scissors, or knife, to cut about an inch of stem off each flower. Your cut should be at a 45-degree angle to allow more water to be taken up by the flower. Also trim any leaves and foliage on the stems that may be submerged in the water in your vase. It is recommended to make your stem trimming cuts under water to avoid the possibility of air bubbles developing in the stems, which will block the ability of the stem to take up water effectively.

Place the cut stems immediately into your vase that has warm water. When you are finished filling your vase, place your bouquet in a spot that will not be in direct sunlight or near heat sources, such as on or near televisions and heat vents.

Flowers From a Florist

Check that the florist foam in the vase your flowers came in is saturated with water. Most of the time, when you get a flower arrangement from the florist that has floral foam, it will be sufficiently full of water. But, should the floral foam dry out or be dry, your flowers will quickly die.

Cut the ends of your stems the same as you would for flowers cut from your garden, if you receive florist flowers that are not pre-arrangement. Cut them at a 45-degree angle and trim the stems of any leaves.

Add florist preservative, or your homemade preservative, to the warm water in your flower vase.

Keep your flowers from a florist in a cool location during the night, moving them back to your chosen location during the day. By keeping them in a cool location overnight, you will be extending the life of your bouquet.


Things You Will Need

  • Bucket or container
  • Vase
  • Sharp scissors or sharp knife
  • Water
  • Floral preservative
  • OR
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Bleach


  • Make sure you have thoroughly cleaned the vase you are going to use. If the vase has previously been used for flowers, it may have leftover bacteria still in it, which will shorten the life of the flowers in your new bouquet.
  • Change the water in your vase every two to three days, with preservative, to keep it fresh and prevent bacteria growth.