Flower Care

Your Guide to Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh

How do I care for bouquets and freshly cut flowers?

Lots of people receive fresh flowers as gifts or buy a bouquet for their dining table from the grocery store, and they don’t always know how to get the most bang for their buck. There’s nothing more disappointing than bringing home a stunning arrangement only to find it faded in just a few days. That said, most flowers can remain beautiful and vibrant with just a few simple tips for taking care of them. Keep reading this guide to keeping your bouquets fresh and healthy longer, and never miss the extra life of your bouquets again.

Fresh-cut Flower Basics

Temperature is critical. Your bouquets need to be displayed in a cool place – between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Additionally, unlike potted plants, you must keep your cut blooms away from direct sunlight; it will make them wilt faster. Drafts and heat sources are best kept far from your flowers as well. Don’t display them near appliances (which often give off a lot of heat), or near fans and vents; these can all dry out the flowers, making them fade fast.

How to Prepare Your Bouquet for a Vase

In the movies, the love interest gets a bouquet and quickly dashes off to ‘put them in water’, re-appearing seconds later with nary a leaf or petal in sight. In reality, if you want to display your cut flowers in a vase, you need to take a few minutes to prepare them first. Otherwise, you’ll lose extra days of their beauty, and you might even end up with a mess. Not to worry though! With these easy steps your flowers will keep in a vase beautifully.

  • Choose your vase. Make sure it’s wide enough (and long enough) to display your bouquet without being top-heavy. It should go without saying, but make sure the vase is nice and clean as well.
  • Carefully take off any packaging from your bouquet. Sometimes there are elastic bands or clips around the stems. Cut any elastic bands and take your time pulling away clips, making sure to do as little damage to the stems as possible. Cut flowers can bruise easily, don’t rush. While you’re doing this, you’ll likely find a small packet of flower food; this is important. Set it aside for use in a few minutes.
  • Find a sharp pair of scissors and make sure they’re clean. It seems counter-intuitive, but you need to cut off two inches from the bottom of each stem in your bouquet, making sure to cut at an angle. This is a little like opening the straw on a pixie stick: you’re allowing water to travel up the stem more easily, and the angle for the cut provides more surface area for the stem to literally suck water through.  For best results, cut the stems while submerged in water in a large mixing bowl or the sink. This allows them to take in water immediately, instead of air.
  • While you’re cutting, you’re also going to remove any leaves from the bottom of your bouquet that would be submerged in the vase. Ultimately, you only want the stems in your vase’s water. Foliage in the water will decompose, promote decay in your flowers, and generally be gross. Definitely avoid that.
  • Prepare lukewarm water and add the flower food as directed on the packet. You’ll likely have more than you need – make sure to follow the directions. Read more about the flower food below.
  • Once the flower food has dissolved in the water, carefully place your bouquet in the vase. Make sure all stems actually go into the water, and double check to make sure no foliage is submerged. Arrange each stem the way that makes you happiest and voila! Your bouquet is ready to be beautiful for over a week.

What is Flower Food and Why is it so Important?

Almost every bouquet sold will come with a brightly colored packet filled with a plain white powder. If this was an 80s movie, there’d be a crime syndicate moving some awful stuff in these – but it’s not, and the floral food is just a mixture that stops bacteria from growing in the water, while also feeding the flowers. It is the number one way to give beautiful bouquets an extra-long life.

The thing is, you need to be careful when mixing it with your bouquet’s water. That packet of flower food, as small as it is, has more food than you probably need. It’s meant to last for more than one water change (more on that below). Too much powder will do more harm than good to your flowers, so make sure to read the directions and take the time to carefully measure the floral food and water. Also, once you’ve opened the packet, fold it closed with a paper clip, or keep in an air-tight zip baggie.

A Few Extra Tips for Keeping Bouquets Fresh

Gaze upon your lovely bouquet every day! Not only should you be enjoying every moment of its beauty, you should also keep an eye on the water in the vase. It will evaporate, and if the water level gets too low, simply add more water infused with floral food. If the water becomes cloudy, change it altogether (making sure to add more flower food just as you did the first time).

Make sure to remove any wilted blooms and foliage daily; obviously, this will keep the arrangement looking its best. It will also discourage those pesky bacteria from growing in your vase’s water.


That’s it! These steps take far more time to read than they take to do, fortunately. And we promise, the few minutes it takes to care for your flower bouquet will pay off in the extra days of unfolding floral beauty you’ll get to enjoy.