Flower Power

So, you've received a gorgeous bouquet, unwrapped it, found a vase that's the right size, filled it with water, and artfully arranged the flowers. Now what—how do you keep the flowers looking fresh and healthy for as long as possible?

The best way to prolong the life of cut flowers is by controlling bacterial growth, storing them in the proper environment and feeding them.

Here are some easy tips:
  • Be sure your vase is clean!
  • Fill with luke warm water, except for tulips and other bulbs. If you want to encourage roses to open faster (which will also shorten their life-span) use warmer water.
  • Remove any leaves that will be under water, and cut the ends of the stems at an angle with a sharp, non-serrated, knife or floral shears. Regular scissors can crush stems and prevent water from getting to the flowers.
  • Use the little packet of floral 'food' that you received with the flowers. This anti-bacterial agents, sugar to feed the flowers, and a hydrating agent to help the flowers take up water more efficiently after a long period of forced dormancy.
  • Change the water daily. This is the easiest way to slow bacterial growth which causes cut flowers to wilt and die. When you change the water take another minute to rinse the stems with fresh water.
  • Cut the stems every few days, and slit woody stems.
  • Keep flowers in a cool location, away from heaters or direct summer sunlight, and away from ripening fruit which emits ethylene gas and causes flowers to wilt more quickly.
  • Remove flowers as they 'go by' to avoid contaminating longer lasting, healthy blooms.
For a longer article which includes caring for freshly cut garden flowers and has a recipe for floral preservative, read "Cut-Flower Care—How to Make Your Fresh-Cut Flowers Last," at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden website.


  1. Hi Barb,

    Just the tips I was looking for. I hate getting fresh-cut flowers and having them wilt on me!

    Another gardening question--when's the best time to prune an azalea or rhodendron? I have a young shrub that's getting too close to my house and I'd like to prune it back without killing it.

    Nancy (http://crafttoheal.blogspot.com)

  2. Hi Barb,

    This is great. Just the kind of tips I need. I hate getting fresh-cut flowers and having them wilt in a day or two!

    Another gardening question: When's the best time to prune an azalea or rhodendron? I have a young shrub that is growing too near the house and I'd like to prune it without killing it.

    Nancy (http://crafttoheal.blogspot.com)


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