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  • Writer's pictureAnna

Prolonging Cut Flower Vase Life

How to get the maximum vase life out of your cut flowers

We all love receiving fresh cut flowers but not everyone is aware of how to make the most of their vase life so you can enjoy them for as long as possible. With thousands of Valentines Bouquets about to be delivered all over the country this weekend I thought it might be the perfect time for a reminder on caring for your flowers in the home.


As we are in February it is highly unlikely that your flowers have come from British soils. Many, especially roses, will have travelled a long way for Columbia, Kenya or Ecuador. Imagine how long that takes to get from those countries to the flower auctions in Holland and then dispatched to British wholesalers, then out to the florists to prepare your bouquets for delivery. Quite a few days will have passed between that stem being cut and it ending up in your house. They will have been kept in refrigeration for the majority of that time which will have helped prolong their life and with roses, have prevented the tight rose buds from opening up too much. The florist who prepared your bouquet will have conditioned the flowers when they received them but they will still need a little bit of care and attention when they arrive with you. If you can follow these simple instructions you will get the most out of your bouquet.

1. You should aim to get your flowers into water as soon as possible after receiving them. This may not always be possible so try and at least keep them cool and preferably somewhere dark until you can complete this process.

2. Unwrap your flowers from their packaging being careful not to break any stems or knock any delicate heads off. Check if your packaging can be recycled or composted before disposing of it. Carefully and responsibly dispose of all waste.

3. Make sure your vessel and cutting tools are clean and rust free.

4. Cut the stems 2-3cm from the end whilst under water to avoid any air bubbles blocking the stems. (Put these off cuts in your compost or garden waste.)

5. Remove any leaves that will be below the water surface. (Compost or garden waste any discarded leaves.)

6. Add a packet of flower food to the water that came with your flowers or make your own (see later for recipe).

7. Keep your flowers out of direct sunlight or drafts.

8. Keep them away from fruits as they may produce ethylene gas which causes the flowers to age prematurely.

9. Change the water, re cut the stems and add new flower food every other day.

10. As the stem lengths reduce and some of the flowers die off you may want to replace the vase with a smaller vessel or split out into a selection of smaller vessels.

11. Remove any flowers that start to die off as your bouquet may not die at the same rate.

12. Once all your flowers have died dispose of them in a compost bin or your garden waste. Thoroughly clean out your vase with hot soapy water and a touch of bleach to kill off any bacteria before storing.


Many people question whether we need to use flower food or whether fresh clean water is enough. My answer to that would be that we all need water AND food to survive so why not give them a little extra boost. Plus the 3 ingredients in the home made flower food are chosen for very good reasons and should all be easily available to you.

Your flower food needs three ingredients to prolong flower life.

  1. An acidifier to lower the pH level of the water, enabling it to move more quickly up the stems so they are better hydrated.

  2. A bacteria and fungus inhibiting agent to prevent stem rot.

  3. Sugar to provide energy that will help open tight flower buds, plump up leaves and encourage beautiful blooms.


1tsp sugar

1 tsp bleach

2 tsps lemon or lime juice

1 ltr luke warm water

If you need more water then just make sure to use the same proportions again. Make sure that when you change the water every other day that you also remake and add flower food.


You may have heard or even used some of the wives tales out there to prolong vase life of flowers. Although some of these seem to be good in theory they aren't actually good in practice.

  1. Putting a penny in the vase water - This originated from the idea that the copper acts as a fungicide and therefore will help remove bacteria from the water. Unfortunately this isn't true and actually hinders vase life by bringing bacteria into the vase causing the stems to wilt.

  2. Adding lemonade to the vase water - This one, in theory, should work as you are adding sugar the same as there is in the flower food. But without adding the bleach element found in flower food the bacteria will feast on the sugar and cause the stems to rot. The bubbles in carbonated lemonade will also block the stems and prevent water from passing through them.

  3. Adding vodka to the vase - Apparently the theory behind this old wives tale is that vodka inhibits the production of ethylene which will help prevent wilting. This may be true but without including an energy source (sugar) or antibacterial agent (bleach) the flowers will still wilt and rot more quickly.

Having flowers in your home is a proven mood enhancer. Studies have shown that having them in your kitchen or where you are in the morning can also improve your morning mood and therefore you whole day. More on this in a blog post coming soon but for now, if that isn't reason enough to have flowers in your home and to keep them for as long as possible then I don't know what is. I think they are especially important at the moment with everything that's been going on in the world we could all do with some of nature's mood enhancers!

If you were lucky enough to receive flowers this Valentines Day or any day for that matter, I hope that these simple tips enable you to enjoy them and get the most out of them for as long as possible.

I'd love to know what you think and if you've found this helpful? Please write a comment below as I'd also love to hear if you've tried these or any other methods that have worked for you.

Many thanks for reading and happy love day everyone.

Anna x


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