How to Extend the Life of Your Cut Flowers

Follow these tips to make sure that your gorgeous arrangement has maximum staying power.
Even a cut flower has beauty.

Even a cut flower has beauty.

Even a cut flower has beauty.

To prolong the life and look of your flowers, change the water every other day; if your arrangement uses floral foam, mist the flowers and moisten the foam every other day. If you use flower food, change the water every four or five days. 


If it's a hot day when you prepare and condition your flowers, use a hand spray filled with water to refresh or revive them. Mist the flower heads from a distance of 8 inches or so; don't get too close, or you may drench the petals and spoil them. Flowers such as hydrangeas particularly benefit from misting. A hand spray is also vital for misting floral foam arrangements, bouquets and boutonnieres, as the stems will be out of water for a long time. 

Re-cutting Stems 

Stems in vase arrangements need to be re-cut every few days as their ends soon become waterlogged and mushy, which will cause their flowers to droop and lose their petals more quickly. Re-cutting each stem rehydrates the flower heads and keeps them looking fresh. 

Trim the stems with an angled cut 1–2 inches at the end, depending on the length of the stems. If the flowers and foliage have woody stems, re-split the stems after you have trimmed them. Then change the water and replace the flowers. If you have used an opaque vase, you can maintain the height of the original arrangement by packing a piece of cellophane into the base of the vase before you replace the flowers. 

Reviving Flowers 

There are ways to revive particular flowers if your display begins to look a little tired. Lay floppy amaryllis or delphiniums on a table. Prop up the stem ends so they tilt upward, fill the stems with water and leave them for an hour or so until the stems are more rigid. The wilting petals of hydrangea are tough enough to survive being submerged in water for a minimum of two hours, or overnight, to revive them. 

To straighten and strengthen floppy gerberas, trim the stems, wrap them in newspaper to their necks and leave in a vase of water, as shown here. Let the stems soak for a few hours to allow the newspaper to soak up the water and draw it up the lengths of the stems. 

Split Stems 

The fleshy stems of flowers such as amaryllis, hyacinths and calla lilies can look unsightly in a clear glass vase or container of water if they split. To prevent this from happening, wrap a length of clear tape two or three times around the base of each stem after you have conditioned the flowers. Then place the flower stems in the arrangement as usual. 

Insider Tips 

  • Keep arrangements out of direct sunlight and away from radiators to prolong their life.
  • If the moss discolors, put it in a sink and pour a kettle of boiling water over it to revive it.
  • Scrub your vases and containers with a bottle brush, hot water and dishwashing liquid every time you finish using them. A bottle brush can be angled easily into awkward corners to lift out flower-killing bacteria and dirt.
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