How to make cut flowers last longer


You can make flowers last longer in arrangements if you prepare them first, by conditioning them the minute you get home. What does this mean? Here's floral and interior designer Rebecca Cole with tips on how to make flowers last longer.

How to make cut flowers last longer
  • When you bring home your blooms, before you arrange a bouquet, they need to spend an hour being conditioned. Start with a clean container of water. Add flower freshener if you have it, or add a tiny amount of bleach, but don’t use bleach on flowers that have deep color, as it will fade the color.
  • Prepare your flowers for conditioning by removing excess stem and leaves. Make a sharp diagonal cut on the stem of each flower. The more exposed the inside of the flower at the stem, the more water gets in to nourish the bloom
  • You can get rid of extra leaves and thorns, only a clean stem should go into water.
  • Place the stems in the conditioned water. Leave them there for a full hour. Then, you can begin making your arrangement. If you condition your flowers properly, they will last at least a week longer.

Hello I'm Rebecca Cole for and I'm going to help you make your flowers last a lot longer.

When you buy flowers think of them like ice cream. Immediately drive them home. Don't stop somewhere else because just that heat in the back seat of the car or the trunk is going to kill them right away. Remember that most of your flowers have already been out of water from anywhere from two days to two weeks and then placed in plastic like this.

So now we take them home and the very first thing we want to do is get a nice clean vase or pitcher or bucket or something. Put nice clean water into it. And most of your flowers are going to come with a little packet of flower freshener. Very, very important to use. Now if you weren't lucky enough to get flower fresher with your flowers, and we'll just put the whole packet in, then you can use bleach or something. The reason you are doing this is so that the flowers won't get the bacteria that will really help them rot a lot faster.

You could use bleach, however, bleach is not going to be good for nice colorful flowers like this. I've used them on lighter flowers like this because they will start to fade your flowers. But it does help kill the bacteria.

So now we have the water all ready and we're going to have a little packet like this. Usually they come in plastic. So if it's easy to do, just take off the little plastic or the little rubber band or something. Reach in and pull, and now I need to get each flower in the perfect condition. This is before we're making an arrangement. This is actually conditioning a flower for at least an hour before we put it into the vase that it's going to live in.

The less leaves the better for a flower, although you want some leaves. I would just hold up a tulip like this and see any leaf that's looking a little wimpy, not great. I'm going to just pull right off. That might actually be enough. You could go one more leaf, it's up to you. Oh, and look: a little damage on that. Not going to like that anymore either. So now we're down to just that, so don't do that on every single tulip, but that's a good start. So now I'm going to do a few more of them. Just pull them off. It's a little like kneading bread too. The faster you do it, the better it's going to be for the flower. They don't like a lot of holding.

Now I've got four or five of them ready to go. Look at the bottom of these tulip stems. See how they get a little bit more white near the bottom? That's because it's been out of water long enough that the white has happened. So when you cut them, you definitely want the cut to be above the white. And with tulips they're easy to cut, so I cut all of them at the same time. So are you ready for that? One big nice sharp angled cut above the white. This is why I have the water all ready because now we want to plop them right in.

Now each flower has a little bit different need but the basic idea is that we want to take off most or all the leaves because what happens is when a flower is trying to get the water up, the first things on the way to drinking are going to take most of the water, which is why we take most the leaves off. Because, what we want to have the water, is this beautiful bud at the top.

So I'm really stripping them nicely down like that, and then once again we're going to do a nice sharp angled cut because that gives a lot more area for the water to soak up in, and immediately plop it into the water.

So remember to condition your flowers, leave them in the water for at least an hour before you actually arrange them. And if you do that, your flowers are going to last at least a week longer.

meet theexpert
  • Rebecca Cole

    Rebecca Cole Floral and Interior Designer Rebecca Cole is now one of the most in-demand interior and landscape designers in the country and has been declared a 'stylish, urban horticulturist' by New York Magazine and a 'garden guru' by the New York Post. more about this expert »

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