How to keep cut flowers fresher, longer: Methods and Additives for Longevity

Posted by Michelle Hughes on

Flower arrangements are a delightful addition to any space, offering bursts of color, beauty, and fragrance. However, without proper care, their lifespan can be limited. Fortunately, there are various methods and additives that can significantly extend the freshness of your floral displays. From simple tricks to scientifically-backed solutions, here's a guide to keeping your blooms vibrant for longer.

Clean Water and Vase

Before arranging your flowers, start with a clean vase. Residue from previous arrangements can harbor bacteria, which can shorten the lifespan of fresh flowers. Wash your vase with hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly before use. Also, trim the stems at an angle to allow for better water absorption.

Water Quality

The quality of water plays a crucial role in keeping flowers fresh. While tap water is generally fine, it may contain additives like chlorine and fluoride, which can harm flowers. Using filtered or distilled water can mitigate this issue, providing a cleaner environment for your blooms.

Floral Preservatives

NOTE: At Bloomstall Flower Boutique in Columbia, Tennessee we only use clean vessels and cold, clean water.  We do not add any of the additives below.  They appear here only as a reference.

Floral preservatives are specially formulated to extend the life of cut flowers by inhibiting bacterial growth and providing essential nutrients. These additives typically contain three main components:

  1. Sugar: Flowers continue to "feed" after being cut, and sugar serves as their primary source of energy. Adding sugar to the water mimics the flower's natural environment and helps sustain them longer.

  2. Acidifier: Acidifiers help lower the pH level of the water, preventing the growth of bacteria and enhancing water uptake. Common acidifiers include citric acid or lemon juice.

  3. Biocides: Biocides are substances that inhibit the growth of microorganisms in the water, keeping it clean and free from harmful bacteria. Household bleach or commercial floral preservatives contain biocides.


Adding crushed aspirin to the water is a popular DIY method for prolonging the freshness of flowers. Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which acts as a mild acidifier and may help to prevent bacterial growth. However, scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness is limited.


A small amount of bleach added to the vase water can help control bacteria and algae growth, thereby extending the life of cut flowers. It's essential to use bleach sparingly—a few drops per liter of water—to avoid damaging the flowers.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties and can help keep vase water clean. Additionally, it contains nutrients that may benefit some flowers. Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with sugar in the vase water for optimal results.

Copper Coins

Some swear by the addition of copper coins to vase water as a method for keeping flowers fresh. It's believed that the copper ions released from the coins can act as a fungicide, inhibiting bacterial growth. However, there's limited scientific evidence to support this claim.

Change Water Regularly

Regardless of additives used, it's crucial to change the water in the vase every two to three days. Stagnant water can become a breeding ground for bacteria, hastening the decay of flowers. When changing the water, trim the stems by a small amount to ensure they can continue to absorb water effectively.

The Bloomstall Flower Boutique Method

To prolong the "life" of your flower arrangement we suggest the following.
  • Keep your arrangement out of direct sunlight whenever possible.
  • Do not place your arrangement near a heat source, vent, fireplace, etc.
  • Check and change the water daily, you should keep the vessel at least half full.
  • Trim the flowers and greens every other day.  Over time the cells close up and they no longer take on water, so clipping them opens the stems back up.
  • Cut the stems at an angle.  This provides more surface area for water to be drawn in and also prevents the base of the stem from lying flat against the vessel bottom.
  • Remove any leaves that fall into the water.  Also remove flowers and greenery as it wilts, browns, or fades.  You can move to a smaller vessel if enough is removed that it changes the shape of the overall arrangement.
  • Do not add anything to the water.  If you have filtered water, use it.


With the right care and attention, you can enjoy the beauty of fresh flowers for an extended period. By following these methods and incorporating suitable additives into your flower arrangements, you can maximize their freshness and vibrancy. Experiment with different techniques to find the combination that works best for your specific flowers and enjoy their beauty for as long as possible.

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