Cut Flower Care 101

December 18, 2022

Now hopefully many of you just received a bouquet or an arrangement of beautiful fresh cut flowers for Valentine’s Day, that’s if the snow and ice didn’t thwart your sweetheart’s plans as it did for many here in the Pacific Northwest. And I am sure you have wondered at one time or another as to what is the best way to make them last as long as possible?

If you received the flowers from us here at Botanica, there was a card included, but for those who did not, here are some helpful tips to keep your blooms looking their best.

Step 1 - If you have received a bouquet wrapped in paper, give the stems a fresh cut with a sharp knife(best option) or sharp pruning shears. Do not use regular household scissors as they will crush the stems and restrict the ability of the flowers to drink. Place flowers in cool, freshwater. Make sure to remove any foliage that is below the waterline as it will rot and cloud the water reducing the life of your flowers.

If you have received a vase arrangement, after removing it from the packing box/materials, check the water level in case some of the water spilled during transport. Refill as necessary and make sure the water level is at least an inch from the top of the vase.


Step 2 - Place where you can best enjoy them but out of direct sunlight or drafts.

Step 3 - Change out the water every other day.

Step 4 - As individual flowers fade, remove them to keep the rest of your blooms as fresh as can be.

Step 5 - If there are lilies in your arrangement, make sure to remove the anthers(that little oblong thing that produces pollen on the endof the stamens) as each bloom starts to open. The pollen can stain the booms as well as anything it comes in contact with.

Step 6 – ENJOY!


What about flower food, you ask?!

Now over the years there have been many theories as to what helps keep cut flowers fresh the longest…everything from putting a penny in the water, to aspirin, to commercial floral food.

Well thanks to Natalie & Meg of Native Poppy in San Diego, we now know what works best. They set out to test all these common additives and old wives tales by setting up a controlled experiment using the same mix of flowers purchased at the same time and placed in identical vases with the same amount of water but some with additives and some without. They used a variety of common flowers such as roses, carnations, alstromeria, snapdragons and wax flower.  

Each vase started with 2 cups fresh water. They then gave all the stems a fresh cut and put them in the 8 vases with the following variations...

Fresh plain water that they never changed

Fresh plain water that they changed daily

Fresh water with a penny – water changed

Fresh water with a penny – no water change

Fresh water with vodka –no water change

Fresh water with bleach – no water change

Fresh water with commercial floral food – no water change

Fresh water with sugar – no water change


Over the next 10 days or so they documented the flowers’ progression to see what additive worked best.

For the first few days they all looked pretty identical but then soon after, a few of them started to decline.

Now to avoid keeping you in suspense and waiting 10 days, I will skip ahead to the results.

And the big winner was ….drumroll please….


The flowers lasted13 days! I am sure some of them would have lasted longer but that is when the ended the experiment.

Coming in a close second was Penny with water changed daily and the big loser was Vodka followed by Bleach.

So mystery solved… change the water daily.

On a side note, cooler temperatures also help your flowers last longer.

Thanks ladies for your wonderful experiment! If you need flowers in San Diego, check them out! www.native or follow them on Instagram.


I think I may have to try my own version of this experiment!