Home6 Steps to Keeping Flowers Fresh - An Easy Guide


By following simple steps, you can significantly increase the vase life of your cut flowers.


Why Do Cut Flowers Need Care?

There are several things that happen when flowers are cut from the earth.

Roots Are a Water Filter

A flower’s roots act as a filtering system preventing bacteria from entering the stem. The roots also provide a source of clean and PH balanced water as well as feeding the plant the correct minerals.

No Roots, No Filter

When flowers are cut from the earth, the filtering system is removed leaving the flower free to draw up unfiltered water, air and bacteria. This blocks the stem, which interferes with water uptake.

6 Steps to Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh for Longer

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1. Wash Your Vase Thoroughly

It’s not every day you receive beautiful fresh flowers, so it’s likely your vase may have been sat patiently at the back of the cupboard collecting dust.

Don’t Dry With a Towel

Carefully wash your vase with hot water & a small cap of bleach together with a sponge. Allow the vase to dry naturally upside down rather than using a towel.

This is the first step to ensuring no bacteria is present when water and flowers are introduced into the vase.

2. Condition Your Water

Tap water is suitable for fresh flowers but it does need to be conditioned to be ideal for thriving blooms.

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Woody Stems

Firstly, look at the stems of your flowers, if they are predominantly woody stems like these roses, they prefer a deep drink, so fill the vase up to around 2/3rds full with tap water.


Softer Stems

If the stems are predominantly softer stems (like tulips) then fill the vase just under half way with tap water as they prefer a more shallow drink.

Allow Vase Water to Settle

Once you’ve done that, put the vase to one side and leave it for a while to allow some of the larger air bubbles to escape and for the water to reach room temperature.

Why? Flowers take warmer water in more efficiently than cold so, putting fresh flowers in warmer water for their first drink is crucial. Air bubbles can get stuck in the bottom of stems which can interfere with water uptake.

3. Only Use Flower Food

Add a flower food sachet to your vase of water and make sure it’s fully dissolved with a quick stir.


What is Flower Food?

Flower food is a concoction of bleach (bactericide), sugar and an citric acid (acidifier).The three ingredients contained in flower food create the perfect environment for cut flowers.

Be Careful not to Overdose

If you’re being creative with your blooms and split them into small bouquets, make sure you still use the sachet but be careful not to overdose. The average sachet will contain the right dosage for 1 litre of water.

Why does it work? Bleach eliminates harmful bacteria. Sugar provides flowers with the energy to allow them to blossom. Citric acid balances the PH of tap water, dissolves air bubbles and improves the effectiveness of the bleach.

Avoid Old Wives Tales, They Often do More Harm than Good…

  • The reason old wives tales such as adding a penny, vodka, aspirin or lemonade don’t work is because they don’t combine the three key ingredients to make the perfect environment for cut flowers.
  • Take lemonade for example, although lemonade will provide the much-needed sugar cut flowers need for energy, without the bleach, bacteria will also thrive on this sugar. Lemonade also contains a lot of bubbles which will clog stems very easily and this isn’t good.

Make Your Own Flower Food

This is one of the most important steps, so if you don’t have a flower food sachet, you can make your own at home to add to your vase:

1 teaspoon of household sugar 1 teaspoon of clear unscented household bleach 2 teaspoons of lemon/lime juice

Mix this with a quarter cup of warm water and stir the mixture until fully dissolved. If you can’t do this, replace your vase water every 24 hours.

4. Prepare Your Stems

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Place the stems next to your vase to measure the right height for them to be cut.


Remove any foliage that will fall below the waterline of your vase.

If any foliage is left below the waterline, it will firstly introduce bacteria back into your clean water and will also decompose quickly being submerged.



Cut the stems at an angle with the sharpest scissors, shears or knife you can find.

Cutting the stems with a sharp implement makes sure the cut is clean and the stem isn’t crushed, this aids water uptake. Cutting at an angle creates a larger opening at the base of the stem for more water uptake and stops them sitting flat in the vase.


Place Straight Into Water

Once your flowers have been cut, place them immediately into your vase of water.

5. Place in a Suitable Location

Keep your flowers in a cool location away from sources of heat such as household appliances or radiators, direct sunlight such as windowsills and drafts from windows or doors.

Also: Keep your flowers away from any fruit or vegetables.

When cut flowers are subject to heat it causes them to release more water (transpire) than they can draw up the stem causing wilting to occur. That’s why wilting flowers are very moist at the head of the stem. Fruit releases ethylene gas as it ripens which poisons cut flowers causing wilting and browning.

6. Check Regularly


Use the Stems As a Handle

Try not to neglect your flowers for more than 2-3 days. Be sure to take them out the vase to change trim them. Use the stems as a handle to hold your flowers rather than the heads, human hands are warm and will make them dry.


Avoid Cloudy Water

Check the quality of your vase water, if it is slightly cloudy, change it for fresh water and repeat step 2.

No matter how meticulous you have been with your vase, flower food and cutting, bacteria will still form and attach to the end of your flower stems and discolour your water. This is the most frequent cause for a short vase life so keeping on top of this is key to long life flowers.

If the water is clear, top it up with tap water and remove any floating foliage with a clean spoon or fork, not your fingers.

Once your water is ready, repeat step 4 and cut the stems removing at least an inch from the bottom.

Cutting at least an inch from the bottom allows an otherwise clogged stem to reopen and take up much more water.

Has this Guide Helped Keep your Flowers Fresh?

Try these tips next time you have your hands on some cut flowers and tell us if it helped keep them fresh in their vase.

If you’d like to order some flowers to try out these tips for yourself, you can start a delivery today with us at Flying Flowers.

Flower Care by Type

Although care tips apply to all fresh cut flowers, there are care tips applicable to each flower type. These flower type care tips may help you with your bouquet of mixed flowers.


Care Tips for Alstroemeria

  • Estimated Life Span – 5-12 Days
  • Sensitivity to Fruit & Veg (Ethylene) – Varied
  • Toxic to Animals - Yes

Give Them Plenty of Water

Alstroemeria is a particularly thirsty stem, so make sure that you minimise the time the stems are out of water when taking them out of a vase to cut the stems.

Take Care When You Handle Them

The stem has delicate petals that can wilt easily in warm or draughty conditions. Make sure is kept out of direct sunlight, warm or draughty areas.


Care Tips for Lilies

  • Estimated Life Span – 5 -11 Days
  • Sensitivity to Fruit & Veg (Ethylene) – Moderately
  • Toxic to Animals - Yes

Handle with Care

Lilies bruise very easily so be careful when handling them. Use the stems as a handle an avoid handling the head of the stem with your hands.

Look at How They Bloom

Once delivered, lilies will open within the first 24-48 hours after being put into fresh water with flower food. Lilies don’t always open at the same rate and some flower heads may be open sooner than others. You can cut any wilted lily heads close to the main stem to get the best out of your lilies.

Watch Out for the Pollen

Lily pollen can stain your skin, clothing and furniture so be careful when handling lilies once they bloom.

How to Remove Lily Pollen:

  • Simply pluck the individual pollen pods from the stamen of the flower shown in the image.
  • You may want to wear some disposable gloves to make sure you don’t get your hands dirty.

Care Tips for Roses

  • Estimated Life Span – 5-12 Days
  • Sensitivity to Fruit & Veg (Ethylene) – Moderately
  • Toxic to Animals - No

Keep them Cool

Like many stems, roses last much longer in a cool area and wilt quickly in direct sunlight or warmth. Keep your roses cool but not in a draught to make sure they are happy.

Give Them a Tall Drink

Flowers with woody stems like roses love a tall drink so keep on top of your water level making sure to change it when it becomes even slightly cloudy.

Handle with Care

When handling your roses, however tempted you may be, be sure not to touch the inside petals with your fingers. Your hands are warm and every time you touch these petals will shorten the life span of your roses. Our recommendation is to hold a rose by the stem.

Remove Guard Petals

Roses will have discoloured petals around the flower’s outer edge when delivered. Don’t worry, these are just to protect the rose (hence the name). Remove these as they often fall from the flower into your vase water.


Care Tips for Sunflowers

  • Estimated Life Span – 5-12 Days
  • Sensitivity to Fruit & Veg (Ethylene) – Slightly
  • Toxic to Animals - No

Find a Supportive Container

Sunflowers are one of the heaviest commercial flowers and need a sturdy vase to support their top-heavy nature. A tall cylindrical vase or container that supports 2/3rds of the stem is ideal.

Pour Plenty of Water

Sunflowers are incredibly thirsty and will drink the contents of a vase very quickly. Keep your eye on the water level and top this up regularly with room temperature water.

Remove More Foliage

This stem usually arrives with a large amount of foliage on the stem. Be sure to remove this at least 2/3rds up the stem, leaving minimal foliage at the top of the stem.


Care Tips for Tulips

  • Estimated Life Span – 5 -8 Days
  • Sensitivity to Fruit & Veg (Ethylene) – Slightly
  • Toxic to Animals - Yes

Choose the Right Vase

Tulips are also well known to bend with gravity. Bear this in mind when you are selecting a vase or container. Find a container that will support at least half the stem if not 2/3rds of the stem length.

Recut More Often

Tulips grow a few inches after they are cut and will continue to grow throughout their vase life. To make sure they don’t topple or grow taller than their neighbouring blooms, cut the tulip stems more often.


This stem will also bend towards the nearest light source. To stop them bending over a vase too much, rotate your vase or container every day to counter act this.

Shop Spring Bouquets

Seasonal Beauty

Tulips bloom best during certain seasons; this is why we feature them primarily in our Spring Range. During Summer, Autumn or Christmas, please choose from our selection of other stunning flower types.

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Care Tips for Freesias

  • Estimated Life Span – 5 -12 Days
  • Sensitivity to Fruit & Veg (Ethylene) – Very
  • Toxic to Animals - No

Watch Their Bloom Pattern

Freesias have 4-6 tubular flowers that will bloom in succession. Remove any blooms that are spent from the top of the stem to extend the life of the oncoming blooms

Humidity is Ideal

Keep freesias out of direct sunlight in a cooler temperature room with high humidity if possible.

Keep Away from Fruit and Veg

Freesias are very sensitive to ethylene gas that is produced by many fruits and vegetables. It is likely that your freesias will have been treated but to keep them fresh, keep your freesia as far away as possible from fruits and veggies.

Caring for your flowers is one thing, we’ve also written a step by step guide to show you how to arrange them too.