Cut flowers including Sunflowers, Cosmos, and ZinniasCut flowers including Sunflowers, Cosmos, and Zinnias

How to Keep Fresh Cut Flowers Longer

by Heather, Staff Writer

There is nothing better than cutting flowers from your own garden. Bringing your garden blooms inside, arranged as a lovely centerpiece in your favorite vase, is delightful. Yet, have you ever noticed by day three the flowers aren't looking their best? Here are some tips on how to keep your fresh-cut flowers longer.

When To Cut For Long-Lasting Flowers

  • The best time to cut flowers from your garden is early in the morning or late in the evening, when temperatures are cooler.
  • Flowers cut during mid-day, tend to experience more shock and have a harder time recuperating and wilt within a day of being cut. 
  • Choose flowers that are not blown open. Since flowers will naturally open in vases on their own, it’s ok to cut premature flowers (nearly-open buds); they will last longer in a vase. 
  • Make sure to cut an inch off the bottoms of the flower's stems right before designing with them. Flowers always need a fresh cut before placing in a vase.
  • The best tools to use for cutting flowers are floral snips or scissors that are sharp and clean. Using dirty scissors introduces bacteria into the flower stem and kills a flower faster.
Dahlias and Wildflowers make a colorful late summer arragement.Dahlias and Wildflowers make a colorful late summer arragement.
Dahlias and Wildflowers make a colorful late summer arragement.
Annual wildflowers including Cosmos, Zinnias, and Sunflowers have long-lasting blooms that are perfect for arragements.Annual wildflowers including Cosmos, Zinnias, and Sunflowers have long-lasting blooms that are perfect for arragements.
Annual wildflowers including Cosmos, Zinnias, and Sunflowers have long-lasting blooms that are perfect for arragements.

Water & Flower Food Are Is Key

  • Water quality is very important for long-lasting cut flowers. By changing the water every day, it minimizes bacteria. Bacteria are the number one reason flowers die early.
  • In order for flowers to stay hydrated and fed, you can give them a boost by adding flower preservative or “flower food” into the water.
  • You can buy small packets of flower food from a local florist. Make sure to not use the whole packet; if it’s a small vase, just add a sprinkle. If you use too much flower food, it will cause the flower to die early. Read directions on the back of the packet to give proper measurements.
  • Make your own flower food!
    • Use 2 tablespoons vinegar plus 3 tablespoons of sugar per one liter of warm water. The vinegar kills bacteria and the sugar feeds the flowers.
    • Or, use clear soda, such as Sprite. Add 3 tablespoons of soda to one liter of water. The sugars in the soda will act similar to flower food - but don't use too much; again, too much sugar can hurt a flower.

Getting The Conditions Just Right

  • Cut flowers can be sensitive to their environment. Placing flowers near fruit is risky because fruit produces ethylene gas, which causes flowers to wilt.
  • Flowers last longer at cooler temperatures, however if flowers get too cold they will freeze. Keep flowers away from drafty doors, or windows.
  • If flowers are placed near a heat source they will die faster, so keep flowers away from wood stoves, heat vents and hot windows.

Choose Flowers with Longer Bloom Times

Some flowers have a longer vase life than others.  

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