9 Easy Ways to Keep Fresh Cut Flowers Alive Longer

Fresh-cut flowers are a wonderful accent for the home. Not only do they smell good and look great, but they can also make beautiful gifts. If you are an avid gardener, you probably already enjoy decorating your home with your handiwork. Whether you decorate your own home with your flowers or plan on giving or selling some to others, we have some great tips to help you keep your fresh flowers looking fresh and crisp longer.

One of the most significant drawbacks to purchasing cut flowers is that they can go bad quickly without proper care. Proper cut-flower care starts with the florist making good moves to ensure that the cut flower stays fresh. If you are planning to give your flowers to others, here are some methods to help you start on the right foot.

1. Harvest fresh and healthy blooms

Before harvesting your flowers, ensure that they are fresh. And once cut, the flowers should be processed quickly and efficiently delivered to clients/buyers using the fastest and most secure means available. Once a flower is cut from its root, every second afterward is precious, and you should take care to shield it from drying up.

Only healthy blooms should be harvested. This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears mentioning. Pest-infested or disease-infested blooms have shorter life spans once cut from the garden and could potentially impact the healthy blooms in the bunch.

And anyway, why would you want to sell unhealthy flowers to your clients? Healthy blooms have greater life spans after they are cut. For small-scale farmers, you can dip the fresh, healthy blooms in clean, fresh water and let the flowers stay overnight in a cool setting (if you intend to sell them on the next day).

2. Grow flowers with proven good longevity after being cut

Choosing hardy varieties of flowers is an excellent method to ensure a long-lasting bunch of fresh-cut flowers. Varieties like the Iris do not last for long once cut. On the other hand, lilies and roses have favorable extended life spans after being cut. And chrysanthemums and carnations have greater life spans after they are cut.

Suppose you lack good preservation machines, adequate means of transport, or your farm is located far away from flower markets/clients. In that case, you should focus on growing flowers with a proven greater lifespan after cut and have good local demand. Doing this will help ensure you get more profit for your effort and reduce your losses.

3. Timely harvest: Harvest the flowers very early in the morning or late in the evening

When cut under cool/cold temperatures, flowers will retain their moisture content for long hours compared to when they are cut under warmer temperatures. From personal experience, I would highly recommend cutting the flowers early in the morning, after they have gathered enough dew through the night. And once harvested, don’t take too long to process them before selling.

4. Keep the flowers in a cool setting.

Keep the flowers in a well-ventilated room. Once cut from the garden, the period that your flowers will last before wilting depends on how effectively they preserve their moisture and how fast you deliver them to clients. 

Do not store cut flowers in heated rooms or close to radiators, fires, or large microwaves

Instead, please keep them in a well-ventilated room with cool temperatures to shield them from warmth/heat. Notably, it’s advisable to invest in an appropriate cooling refrigerator to help maintain the flowers’ moisture and keep them fresh for long hours.

5. Observe general hygiene

Ensure that anyone handling the flowers from harvesting, storage, and transit, exercises hygienic measures. They should handle the flowers with clean and properly washed/disinfected hands/gloves and other tools. If you are packaging the flowers, the packaging materials should be neat, clean, and well ventilated.

From time to time, check the flowers, focusing on removing any wilted ones or those showing signs of rotting. One rotten flower can infect the whole bouquet in a vase and make them start to wilt. That’s how dangerous the ethylene gas emitted by rotting flowers is.

If you are in pursuit of ways to make cut flowers arrangements; including bouquets and other special flower arrangements to last for an extended period of time, you can try some of the below tips:

6. Put the flowers in clean, warm water

Immediately after you’ve cut the flowers, please put them in a clean container with clean, fresh warm water. Keep the container in a cool place to allow the flowers to absorb the water properly. Only the flowers’ stems should touch the warm water and not its leaves or flowers. Doing this will ‘harden’ the flowers and allow them to last for an extended period. Do not dip the entire cut flowers in the warm water.

Afterward, transfer the flowers in a vase filled with mild-warm/lukewarm water. Be sure to replace the water every day to remove any bacteria or fungi which may attack the flower. And as you replace the water, carefully trim the leaves of the flowers, removing any that are showing signs of wilting, rotting, or infection. Ensure no leaves are touching the water as they may quickly start to rot.

7. Keep the flowers in a non-heated environment

Keep the flowers in a safe and cool place away from direct sunlight. Avoid placing flowers close to heat sources like TVs, fireplaces or stoves, etc. Ensure the room is appropriately ventilated.

8. Use commercial flower preservatives

Many flower preservatives are readily available from local florists, retail stores, and other flower vendors. These preservatives possess the necessary ingredients that flowers need to live an extended life after they are cut. Good products are sold with instructions for how to use them properly. Read those instructions thoroughly and carefully follow each step outlined to achieve the best results.

9. Use homemade preservatives

You can also use household materials to help preserve your fresh-cut flowers. The following methods are all effective mixtures to feed your flowers and reduce the bacteria that speed up rot that you are more than likely to already have on hand.

Soda and bleach: Sodas contain the sugars needed by flowers to thrive. On the other hand, bleach has acidic content, which can kill bacteria and other microorganisms.

Use clear sodas such as Sprite or Seven-Up by mixing one part soda with three parts water. Then add a few drops of bleach. The flowers will continue to thrive well while protected by the bleach from attack by microorganisms. However, it would be best to take precautions not to use too much bleach as it might discolor the flowers’ stems.

Sugar and lemon juice: You can use sugar and lemon juice in the absence of soda and bleach. For one part of lemon juice, use three to four parts of water and some pinches of sugar. Both will serve the same purpose as soda and bleach but may be gentler on plants and hands.

Aspirin or vinegar: You can grind up aspirin or apple cider vinegar as both are good alternative sources of acids needed to kill any microorganisms in the flower vase. Be cautious, though, not to use too much aspirin as it might discolor the stems of your flowers.

Vodka and sugar or soda: Vodka may also act as a good antibacterial. If mixed with sugar or soda in a flower vase, it will help extend the longevity of cut flowers. Vodkas even have the potential to stop cut flowers from emitting ethylene which is responsible for wilting in most flowers.