Organize & Clean

How To Extend the Life of Your Cut Flowers

updated May 8, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Leanne Bertram)

Fresh flowers are a fleeting pleasure no matter how you slice it, but we think they bring so much life and color to a room that they’re absolutely worth the effort and expense. A few simple tricks borrowed from the pros will help you keep flowers around a good long while. So go ahead, buy yourself a Valentine bouquet!

What You Need


• Fresh flowers of your choice
• Vase or vessel of your choice
• Dish soap
• Bleach and/or white vinegar
• White granulated sugar


• Good sharp clippers or a sharp knife
• Garden gloves

1 / 8
Double the life of your finished arrangement with these tips! (Image credit: Susie Nadler)


  1. Before you get started, make sure your vase or vessel is super clean, to avoid any bacteria that might seep into the water. Soak your vase with dish soap and hot water, then use white vinegar or a bit of bleach to wipe out the insides.
  2. Add a teaspoon or two of sugar and a couple of teaspoons of bleach to your vase, then add tepid water (unless you are using bulb flowers, like hyacinths or tulips, which need cold water). The sugar’s carbohydrates feed the stems, and the bleach helps keep the water bacteria-free.
  3. Remove any foliage from the stem so that no leaves will be submerged in the water. Leaves in the water will break down and cause bacteria to form.
  4. Trim the end of each stem at a 45-degree angle and submerge immediately in water. (Leaving the stems out of water after they’re cut allows air pockets to form which can later block the path of water into the stem.) Some florists recommend cutting the stems underwater, but this is rather unwieldy, and I’m not sure it really makes much of a difference.
  5. If you’re adding branches to your arrangement, use your sharp knife to strip the bark from the end of the branch. This exposes the capillaries of the branch to the water, allowing it to soak up as much as possible.
  6. When you’re arranging, try not to jam too many flowers into the vase. Overcrowded stems will wilt more quickly and release more bacteria into the water.
  7. Keep your floral arrangements out of direct sunlight if possible, and always pluck out any wilted stems to keep the rest of the flowers looking fresh.
  8. Change the water in your bouquet and give the stems a fresh angled cut at least every other day.