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How to Preserve Flowers in a Vase

By Kate Carpenter ; Updated September 21, 2017
A bouquet of fresh-cut flowers can always brighten up your spirit.
bouquet of pink flowers in vase image by Tolbxela from Fotolia.com

When you have a bouquet of cut flowers–from your garden or florist–you want to have them look fresh and last for as long as possible. To have your cut flowers looking fresh for up to two weeks make sure that you prepare the stems so adequate water can be taken up. Also, be sure to add the proper nutrition and bacteria-fighting agents to the water.

Preparing the Flower Stems

Gather your cut flowers from your garden in the cool of the morning. Before the heat of the day arrives, your flowers will be fresher with plenty of moisture and water in the stems. Have a container of water nearby to immediately place the cut flowers into.

Use a sharp knife to cut 1/2 to 1 inch off the end of the stems of your cut flowers–whether you harvested them from your garden or they came from a florist. Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle so there is more of the cut stem to take up water. A sharp knife should be used, instead of scissors, because it is less likely to crimp the edges of the stem, which would block water uptake.

Cut the stems under water so that air bubbles will not form in the stem, also blocking water uptake. Remove any foliage on the flower stem that might be submerged in the vase water. This foliage will rapidly create bacteria in the water, decreasing your cut flower life.

Place your newly trimmed stems into a vase filled with warm water. Using warm water in your cut flower vases will help prolong your flower blooms.

Preparing the Water

Take a quart of warm water that you will use in your vase and add 1 tbsp. sugar, 2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice and 1/2 tsp. of bleach. Or use one part lemon-lime soda (non-diet) to three parts warm water, with 1/2 tsp. bleach added to a quart of this mixture. The sugar helps your flowers stay fresh; the citrus aids in maximum water uptake; the bleach keeps bacteria from forming.

Change the water mixture in your vase every day, or, at most, every other day. Replacing the water your fresh cut flowers are in frequently will add days to the freshness of your bouquet.

Keep your fresh flower bouquet away from direct sun or heat. Your cut flowers will live longer in cooler environments, and will enjoy spending the overnight hours in temperatures in the 55 to 65 degree Fahrenheit range.


Things You Will Need

  • Flowers
  • Sharp knife
  • Vase
  • Sugar
  • Lemon or lime juice (or non-diet citrus soda)
  • Bleach