Increasing the Vase Life of Cut Flowers

education program floral arrangement in whites, yelows and pink colored flowers

While seeds may be started and early bulbs may be around the corner, having cut flowers around the house provides a welcome burst of garden color in the winter. There are several ways to prolong the vase life of cut flowers.

  1. Sanitize your vase – Bacteria can build up in the bottom of vases, so clean them with a mild bleach solution and warm water.
  2. Recut the stems under lukewarm water – Every few days lift the flowers out of the vase and cut off the lowest 1-2” of stem while they are submerged in water. When cut in air, air bubbles form in the xylem. Make sure your tools are sharp and sanitized as well.
  3. Use a flower preservative – Most floral shops will provide a packet of preservative to use with your bouquet. The preservative contains a bactericide, sugar for sustenance, and a mild acid as a catalyst for sugar uptake. Only use a small portion of this packet each day.
  4. Keep the bouquet out of direct sunlight.
  5. Change the vase water often – Changing water every day or every other day dramatically reduces the bacteria populations that eat away at the cut flowers. Don’t forget to add a few drops of the flower preservative.

Here is the expected vase life of some common cut flowers:

Less than One Week: Iris, Tulip, Sweet Pea, Snapdragon, Daffodil

One Week: Rose, Baby’s Breath, Marguerite Daisy, Peony

Two Weeks: Orchid, Carnation, Chrysanthemum

Prepared by Lindsey Smith, Collections Curator