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Cut Flower Care: Insider Secrets to Longer-Lasting Cut Flowers

By: Anni Jack, Adult Education Coordinator | 02/04/2022

Withered roses, drooping snapdragons, falling daisy petals… Have you been saddened when the end of that once-beautiful arrangement meets an untimely demise?  

In my floral design life, there is a constant battle for the health of cut flowers.  As Valentine’s Day rolls around and flower shops hustle and bustle in madness, I thought sharing some tips for flower longevity might be appreciated!

Flower Selection

Just say NO if…

🌸 the colors are faded
🌸there is browning or wilting
🌸seeds are visible or there is loose pollen
🌸the underside of flowers are not firm
🌸flowers are close to store produce – ethylene gas can hasten senescence (fancy pancy word for decline)    Ethylene gas will cause dropped petals and yellowing leaves.

 Just say YES when…

🌸flowers are from a recent delivery (inquire with florist)
🌸flower buds are closed
🌸stems and leaves are firm and not discolored


The roots of plants help filter harmful components from traveling up the plant but what about those beautiful cut flowers we use in arrangements? 

The stem still takes water up, and with it, dirt, chemicals, and bacteria that can wreak havoc. 

Stem blockage is the most common cause of reduced water absorption, but how can we combat the ewww in our containers?

🌱Start with a clean container!
🌱Use the floral treatment packets available with your arrangement
🌱They come with a sugar (nutrient), an acidifier (maintain pH for water uptake and wilt prevention), and a bacteria/fungi inhibitor
🌱Quick floral treatment recipe if in a bind:

1 T. Listerine, vinegar, or bleach 1 T. of lemon-lime soda 1 qt. water


Water quality can affect your cut flowers!

💧Soft water/higher sodium content is toxic to roses and carnations
💧Fluoride in drinking water is harmful to gerberas, gladiolas, and freesia
💧Higher mineral content can block stem and slow water uptake

Watering tips:

💧Watch water level and if arrangement is in floral foam, keep it moist
💧Exchange water when it gets cloudy, adding new floral treatment
💧Make sure there are no leaves in the water zone – they are bacteria harbingers
💧Exchange water every other day, especially if you have roses, adding new floral treatment


Place fresh floral arrangements away from…

🌸drafts and especially in drastic temperatures. Tropicals will not like the winter chill!
🌸heaters – cut flowers can get a little toasty and dry out quickly
🌸direct sun that can be too warm and does not benefit a cut flower

I hope that your beautiful arrangements made by your own hand, purchased from a retailer, or gifted to you, last beautifully with many days of enjoyment!