Making Fresh Cut Flowers Last Longer

We are about to enter flower season: Valentine’s Day is the busiest time of year for florists, and we keep them busy with Mother’s Day gifts and spring weddings. Fresh cut flowers are a treat over here. This frugal mama loves having flowers in the house, but they are a luxury. Nate always remembers special occasions by bringing me a bouquet, and sometimes I pick one up for $3.99 at Trader Joe’s. You better believe that I keep those puppies looking good as long as possible!

When I was in high school, one of my first jobs was in the floral department of a grocery store. I loved learning about flowers and putting together arrangements. This store was in a college town and college-aged boys often came in for flowers before their date nights. One Friday evening, the very-famous college quarterback came in to buy some roses (this former college quarterback is now a very famous NFL quarterback.) I nervously watched as he perused the flower case and picked out an arrangement that I had put together. In my teenage awkwardness, my hands shook uncontrollably as I tried to wrap the vase in tissue paper. I tipped it over and it splashed water everywhere!

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Keep your flowers lasting longer with these florist approved tips #savingmoney #flowers #momhacks

Okay, back to my point. After getting the chance to work with flowers, I wanted to learn more and more about them. Since then, I’ve come across some tricks for taking care of these prize bouquets. While there are lots of hacks, it really boils down to these three principles:

  1. Stems that drink up water
  2. Clean, bacteria-free water
  3. Some kind of food in the water


Here are some ways to help those flowers stay fresh.

Related: How We Grocery Shop Less Often to Save Money

Stems that drink up water

When you first buy your flowers, they’ve probably been sitting there for awhile. When flowers are cut, little pockets of air can collect in the stem. This prevents them from drinking up good water. So, when you get those lovelies home from the store, cut them under water with sharp scissors or a pocket knife. You can do this in a sink filled with water, or with the water running over them.

To make sure the stems are soaking up lots and lots of water, cut them at an angle. And I mean a very sharp angle! Some people say to cut them at a 45 degree angle, but if you cut them at more like a 70 degree angle, more surface area is exposed. More surface area means more water will be soaked up. Cut them every few days to keep the stems fresh and absorbing water.

Related: Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies for Frugal Moms

Clean, bacteria-free water

There all lots of things to do to make sure the water you put those cut flowers in is nice and clean.

  • Clean the vase that you’ll use with warm, soapy water to get rid of any bacteria lurking there.
  • Take off any little leaves towards the bottom of the stems. These little bits and pieces start to rot in the water, leaving bacteria that make your flowers flop.
  • Use filtered water. This is especially important if you have a water softener. But making sure the water is pure helps those flowers stay healthy.
  • Put something in the water that will kill the bacteria. Some of these things are a single drop of bleach, a penny (real copper serves as a fungicide and adds a little acidity), an aspirin, or a small amount of vodka.
  • Change the water often (I try for every day) to keep it clean.

    Yes, the penny in the flower water trick might actually work, keeping bacteria away from your pretty blooms.


Flower Food in the Water

Since flowers are cut from the root and photosynthesis stops, you can add nutrients to the water that helps keep them fed. Those little flower food packets from the florist? Don’t just throw them out. Use them. I use half a packet at a time, so that when I change the water, I have more to use. Some people say that adding Sprite to the water helps. The combination of sugar and acid feeds the flowers and keeps bacteria at bay.

Related: DIY Drawer Pulls

Other Tricks

There are some other tricks you should use with caution.

Refrigerating Flowers

Florists often keep flowers in the refrigerator, so keeping them cold at home would also preserve their life span (in most cases.) But seriously, those flowers aren’t as enjoyable when they’re tucked in the fridge with your yogurt.

Not all flowers can be refrigerated. Once, my mom helped with the flowers for my cousin’s wedding and put buckets full of hydrangeas in the refrigerator. The day of the wedding, they were all wilted and lifeless. My mom and the bride’s mom had to quickly find some replacements! Hydrangeas are very sensitive to ethylene, which fruit and vegetables release.

Warm or Hot Water

I once killed the dahlias for my sister-in-law’s wedding my putting them in hot water. The steam wilted all the petals and they looked terrible. Fortunately, I had ordered enough flowers for it not to ruin the day, but still- she had really wanted dahlias! Putting flowers in warm water can help them open faster.

I’m so excited to fill our house with the fresh flowers of spring (and some of them will come from our garden!) Do you have any tried and true flower tips? 

This Valentine's Day, make your flowers last longer with these tips from florists. #flowers #valentinesday








  • Jane Anderson March 6, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Hi Leah, this is a wonderful blog. I must say you are an incredible writer. I will try the combination of sugar and acid for bacteria. It makes our gardening experience better. Thanks for sharing. Keep posting!

    • leahbmartin March 18, 2018 at 9:08 am

      Thank you so much, Jane! I would love to hear out it works for you! We currently have a vase of flowers that is more than a week old and looks better than ever 🙂

  • Simran Ahuja August 3, 2018 at 4:27 am

    Well, that story was nice about your high school times. I liked the start as you explained the connection between you two(flowers and you) very well. Hehe, but really nice tips especially cutting the leaves at the bottom of the stem. This part is really important and many people miss it. Great Read. Keep blooming.


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