How to Keep Flowers Fresh: Everything You Need to Know

Keeping flowers fresh for a longer time is what we all want after seeing the first signs of wilt. The freshness of your bouquet depends on a lot of things, such as the types of flowers, the florist, and the way you take care of the stems.

Mostly, cut flowers will stay fresh for about 7 to 12 days. You can prolong that time for a couple more days having mastered the proper flower care technique and some useful tips. We all know the basics, but sometimes a slight change of cutting angle or proportions in flower food can make 7 days into 12.

So, before we see how to keep flowers fresh, let’s discuss why you should learn how to do it!

Why Should You Learn How to Keep Flowers Fresh?

When you let flowers grow, they don’t wilt for a much longer time. But why? You can give it water and sugar and a spray every now and then, right?

Well, there are also bacteria.

One of the most important steps in our “How to Keep Flowers Fresh” guide is preventing bacteria from getting inside the stem. When a flower grows, its roots act as a filter. They are also responsible for:

  • Cleaning water that comes up the stem;
  • Balancing the pH of water;
  • Picking necessary minerals.

When the flower is cut, it’s left without that filter with its stem open to the air, water with “who-knows-what” in it, and bacteria. All that penetrates the stem and blocks it, breaking the whole system.

Did we succeed in connecting the dots?

A clean, bacteria-free stem = longer freshness = you’re seeing a beautiful bouquet every day for about two weeks!

How to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer: Easy Steps Anyone Can Do

We’re talking about the flowers sent to you in a bouquet, for example, precut.

So, how to make flowers last longer? Let’s combine the ton of useful information you’re about to receive in 6 steps.

1: The Choice of Vase and Its Care

The very first step in answering the “How to keep cut flowers fresh?” question starts before you even get the bouquet. Make sure you have different kinds of vases at home, wide enough to fit various numbers of stems. The flowers will love the space.

The Choice of Vase and Its Care -

Preparing the chosen vase has certain intricacies to it too:

  • Wash it before putting flowers in there, even if the vase wasn’t occupied and seems clean;
  • Use hot water with a cap of any bleach;
  • Use a clean sponge to save the vase and gloves to save your hands;
  • Don’t dry it with a towel; put it upside down to dry naturally.

Such simple things will make sure there are no bacteria inside before the flowers go in there.

2: Pour the Right Amount of Water and Change It

The good news is, tap water is fine for fresh florals. But you should take note of the stem type:

  • If it’s woody, like in a rose, pour a lot of water, about ⅔ of the vase;
  • If it’s soft, like in a tulip, pour a bit less than half a vase.

As you can see, the tips on how to make roses last longer or tulips keep the form for a few extra days differ. Always find out more info and adjust your care technique, depending on the florals you get.

A general tip: as you’ve poured enough water, let it settle a bit. The gas can land on the stem and block it, plus it’s useful to wait till the water reaches room temperature. Flowers will like a warm drink.

And change the water every 1-3 days, depending on whether it’s:

  • Cloudy or not;
  • Smelly or not.

3: Feed Your Flowers Properly

The easiest way to feed your bouquet is to get a flower food sachet, add it to the water, and stir till dissolved. Keep in mind, though, that one sachet is usually mixed with a liter of water.

But we don’t always look for the easiest way, do we?

What’s Flower Food?

Flower food has three main ingredients:

  • Sugar (the food);
  • Bleach (antibacterial treatment);
  • Citric acid (acidifier).

These three create perfect conditions to keep fresh cut flowers alive longer.

Flower food sachets to feed flowers properly

There are so many presumptions and old tales about keeping cut flowers fresh. People put aspirin, vodka, coins, plain sugar, Coca Cola (really?) in there. Let’s debunk some of the theories about preserving flower freshness.

Sugar Water for Flowers: NOT Working Alone

Yes, sugar is essential for flowers as it’s the main meal. It provides energy for them to bloom and cheer you up.

No, it won’t work alone without the two other ingredients. The bacterial will feast on the sugar as well as on the stem, clogging it and restricting proper water uptake. The pH will also be off, making your bouquet wilt faster.

Bleach in Flowers: NOT Working Alone

Bleach is responsible for getting rid of bacteria that can harm the stem.

But to keep roses fresh, you need more than just bleach. They will need food and acid to thrive for two weeks. Also, it’s important to keep the ratio of a few drops per container, otherwise the flowers may lose color and wilt faster.

Aspirin for Flowers, Vodka, Coins, Etc.: NOT Working at All

Aspirin, vinegar, lemonade, etc. are often used to provide acid. However, they are less effective, and it’s very easy to mess up the proportions.

  1. Aspirin overdose will make the stems grey and make the flowers wither prematurely;
  2. Lemonade doesn’t get rid of bacteria and contains bubbles that can block the stem from water and mineral uptake;
  3. Vodka can halt the production of ethylene in the stem, which affects ripening and wilting. But it’s not a replacement for any of the three essential elements;
  4. Copper coins are great at killing fungi, which is good news. However, coins have the coat of the type of copper that won’t dissolve in water, so you’ll just have an extra coin in a vase, that’s all.

Most of these “DIY” ways to keep cut roses fresh don’t work because:

  • They don’t provide enough effect;
  • They don’t combine the three needed elements.

But there’s proper DIY flower food.

4: Make Your Own Flower Food

If there’s no sachet and nothing your auntie recommended is working, but you’re still determined to keep flowers fresh, make flower treat yourself:

  1. Take a cup;
  2. Pour ¼ of warm water;
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of regular sugar;
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of bleach without scent;
  5. Add 2 teaspoons of citric acid (lemon juice, lime juice, etc.);
  6. Stir until dissolved.

There you have a concentrated flower food for your bouquet.

Make Your Own Flower Food -

It’s also useful to know what kind of tap water you have. If it’s slightly more enriched with minerals, it becomes harder and needs more acid for the balance. A little bit more, don’t go too extra.

More acid is also essential for sunflowers and daisies. All flowers from the Asteraceae family release a kind of glue-like substance from their stems. It can clog them in a second, but lemon juice will help keep the “flower pores” open. Even if you have one sunflower in a bouquet, consider altering the combination a bit.

5: Cut the Stems Properly

If interested in how to keep flowers alive longer, get curious about how to cut the stems in the right way. Here’s what to do:

  1. Measure the height of stems and see how much you will need to cut, so they fit into the vase;
  2. Clean the excess leaves that might be left in the vase underwater;
  3. Cut the stems with a sharp knife, special scissors or shears at the angle of 45°;
  4. Put the bouquet in water immediately.

Clean cuts at an angle are very important as they help the stem stay open for a longer time. Torn ends will clog up faster, and flat ends will make contact with the bottom of the vase, not being able to get water and food.

Cut the Stems Properly

6: Make Sure the Place Is Right

There are specific recommendations as to the place you have to put the vase in:

  • Cool location;
  • No excess heat or cold;
  • No household appliances nearby;
  • No direct sunlight;
  • No fruit and vegetables nearby.

The last one might seem peculiar. Fruit may make the flowers wilt faster because they release ethylene gas responsible for ripening and wilting (as well as ethylene some people try to get rid of with vodka in flower water).

Make Sure the Place Is Right for Your Bouquet

Other Tips On Keeping Flowers Fresh for a Longer Time


  • Don’t leave the bouquet without attention and care for over 3 days;
  • Don’t touch the flower heads; your hands can dry them up;
  • Don’t take foliage out of the water with your hands not to leave any bacteria there;
  • Cut the stems 1” every time you change water to reopen them;
  • Find out more online or at flower shops about the care for a particular flower you got for more efficiency;
  • Cut roses stems underwater as they get air bubbles stuck there more often;
  • If you have floral foam in the bouquet, let it sink completely but don’t push to avoid trapping air bubbles near the stems;
  • Always remove wilted flowers and cut leaves that make contact with the water;
  • Keep the bouquet away from any environmental damage.

All this seems like too much to comprehend at first, but as you do it frequently, flower care can become your best area of expertise. It’s useful not only for the flowers but for you as well.

Taking care of anything or anyone is considered a therapeutic technique. Make it a ritual and a form of meditation by focusing fully on the moment. In the future, you can even create a video blog or a community uniting people who enjoy taking care of flowers.

For those, who need a quick review of the material, there’s a brief Dos and Don’ts below.

How to Make Roses Last Longer: Dos and Don’ts

To keep roses alive, there are dos and don’ts you have to follow.


  • Cut stems at a degree with a very sharp knife;
  • Clean the vase properly;
  • Put the bouquet in a cool place;
  • Provide moisture when transporting;
  • Feed flowers with a sachet or DIY food;
  • Leave the binding on when putting roses in the vase;
  • Use cool water (and warm for the first drink);
  • Add and/or change the water regularly;
  • Pack the bouquet in paper if transporting in sub-zero weather (a layer per sub-zero degree).


  • NO transporting the bouquet for over 15 minutes without moisture source;
  • NO cutting with scissors unless specifically designed;
  • NO removing the binding;
  • NO tearing of the stems or cutting flat;
  • NO cold water, only cool;
  • NO aspirin, vodka, coins, etc. in the vase;
  • NO putting the bouquet close to an air conditioner or a radiator;
  • NO placing the vase near fruits.

These will save your flowers for days, so print them out and read every time you handle a bouquet.

Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh Is Easy When You Have Knowledge

BeMyFlowers - Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh Is Easy When You Have Knowledge

A bouquet someone sends you deserves proper care. The flowers were grown for export, picked by businesses for their warehouses. They were combined in a beautiful bouquet just for you because someone cares enough to find a nice delivery company and place an order. This is just an example of a situation, but it’s unfair to let beautiful floral arrangement wilt because of improper care.

The aforementioned tips will help you prolong the life of your present. If you haven’t already, try them the next time you get flowers!