Tips That Will Make Cut Flowers Last Longer

A vase of cut tulips on a living room table.

Nothing is more depressing than wilting or dying flowers, but cut flowers don't always have to have a short shelf life. Keep your bouquets lasting longer by following these simple tips.

Cutting and Preparing Stems

If you're gathering flowers from your own garden, cut them early in the morning. Flowers that are cut on a hot day or in a hot part of the day won't last as long because the heat of the sun draws moisture away from their petals.

Cut flowers will last longer if the stems are prepared correctly, as preparing the stems helps them take up water quickly. To prepare stems, cut about one-half inch off the end, at about a forty-five degree angle. Don't use dull scissors to cut the stems because they can crush it instead. For best results, cut the stems underwater, as this prevents air from getting into the veins in the stem of your flower. Split all stems about one-half inch from the bottom with a knife or crush the bottom of the stem with a mallet (if the stems are woody) after they're trimmed.

You'll want to place the stems in deep water and leave them there for a few hours before moving them into shallower water. When you have your vase ready and filled, be sure to remove all leaves from the part of the stem that will be submerged under water. You can also clean the stems at this time by lightly brushing them with a vegetable brush. This not only helps the flowers, but it will keep the water cleaner.

It is important to note that an airlock could develop in flowers like tulips and hellebores, preventing water in the stem from getting to the flower. To prevent this, pierce through the stem at intervals with a needle.


First, always check the water level in any container as soon as you get the flowers in the house. This includes any flowers that were delivered.

It is important to change the water and mist the flowers with water everyday. If it is difficult to remove the flowers from the vase, use a turkey baster to remove the water instead. Use water that is a mixture of one tablespoon of bleach per quart of water. The bleach will keep the water cleaner and kill any stench. A teaspoon of sugar added to the water will help also renew flowers that need it.


The ideal temperature for flowers is between 40ºF and 50ºF. Storing your flowers in your fridge overnight will make them last longer, but if they won't fit in your fridge, try placing them on the floor in the coolest room in your house at night instead.

Keep the flowers out of direct sun and away from heat and drafts. Even a fan can cause flowers to wilt quicker.

Additional Helpful Practices

To prevent tulips from flopping over, wrap them tightly in wet newspaper and then place them in about two to three inches of water. Leave them there for about two hours. Push small pins through the stems just below the flower heads and they will stay soldier straight. For other kinds of flowers, just use a straw to fix or stabilize any broken or drooping stems.

It is important to remove any dying flowers from the bunch immediately. Dying flowers emit ethylene gas that will cause the other, healthy flowers to wilt.