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How to Cut Flower Stems With a Knife

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017
Cut fresh flowers properly to ensure beautiful arrangements.

Gardeners with a flower garden filled with colorful blooms often want to enjoy some of these blooms indoors in vases. Choose the most vibrant and beautiful blooms from your garden at the peak of bloom and bring these lovely flowers indoors. Once you have them indoors, handle them carefully as you prepare them for flower arrangements. When you handle cut flowers carefully, they will stay beautiful for a longer time.

Fill the bucket with slightly warm water to hold the flower blossoms as you cut them. Place the bucket near you out of direct sunlight as you cut the flowers.

Cut flower blossoms from your plants early in the day. Choose blossoms that are just opening and that are in perfect condition. Use the utility knife to cut them from the plants just above the crown of the plant. Place the cut flowers into the bucket immediately. Take the cut flowers inside immediately after cutting them.

Fill the vase with slightly warm water and add the contents of one floral preservative packet to the water. Mix the water and preservative well.

Fill the bowl with slightly warm water. Hold one flower stem at a time under the water in the bowl. Hold the knife in your dominant hand and steady the flower stem under the water with your other hand. Slice quickly through each stem while it is beneath the water using your index finger to push the knife blade through the stem and placing your thumb on the other side of the flower stem to hold the stem securely. Cut at least 1 inch from the end of the stem at a 45-degree angle. Cut more from the flower stems if you desire a shorter stem. Remove any leaves from the stems that might be under the surface of the water in the vase.

Place the cut flowers into the prepared vase immediately by lifting each flower straight up out of the water (keeping a drop of water over the cut stem) and placing it directly into the prepared vase. This protects the inside of the stems from air. Continue cutting stems and adding flowers to the vase until you finish your arrangement.

Set the flower arrangement in a location out of direct sunlight and away from dry heat sources. Add water to the vase every day to keep it full.

Empty the vase after three days. Fill the vase with fresh, cool water and add another packet of floral preservative to the water. Recut the stems (under running water) by cutting them approximately 1/2 inch from the ends of each stem at a 45-degree angle. Place the stems into the prepared vase immediately.


Things You Will Need

  • Cut flowers
  • Sharp utility knife
  • Bucket
  • Cool water
  • Floral preservative (in packets)
  • Plastic or glass vase


  • While it may seem that cutting the stems on a cutting board would be effective, do not use this method. You must cut flower stems under water to keep air from contacting the inside of the flower stems. Air inside the flower stems would contribute to weaker flowers that do not last as long.


  • A sharp knife is imperative for cutting flower stems to ensure you do not injure the flower stems as you cut them. Never use scissors to cut floral stems because you may crush the stems with the two blades.

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.