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How to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh Last Longer and Homemade Recipe for Cut Flower Preservative

Every one of us has received a gift of a flower bouquet or we have cut flowers to enhance the beauty of our room. We all wish to preserve it in its original beauty and glory for as long as possible. We open up the thin transparent cellophane paper wrapped around the flowers. We then proceed to put the bouquet in a vase and fill it with water hoping that we will be able to prolong its life in its glory for some days. Well cut and well-arranged flowers not only brighten a room but brighten up our spirits as well.

But inspite of our best efforts many a time we find that the flowers start drooping and shrivelling soon after. How do we wish we knew why this happened? How do we go about extending the life of cut flowers for as long as possible?

I will highlight below some steps that will extend the life and beauty of the cut flowers. Caring for cut flowers is a combination of art and science, both.

For one thing, it has to be appreciated that the sooner the flowers are placed in water, the slower they will wilt. Water, as for humans, is a prime need for flowers' sustainability.

Also, it is better to cut off a small part of the stem at the free end as the cells at the cut end tend to get filled up by air almost immediately. Thus it is better to cut the stem ends underwater so that air is not taken in.

Eustoma grandiflorum

A Simple Home Made Cut Flower Preservative

A simple homemade cut flower preservative can be made as follows:


  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon bleach
  • 1 litre of tepid water

Mix these ingredients well. Add 1/4 teaspoon bleach every 4 days.

Another recipe is:

  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 litre of tepid water

Mix well and use.

The Steps

  • A Clean Vase - The Starting Point

It is essential to start with a clean vase. A glass vase adds to the beauty of the cut flowers. You can use any vase but ensure that it is clean from dirt and grime from the inside and outside.

To clean a glass vase, take some wire or steel wool and some glass cleaner liquid. Dip the steel wool in this cleaner liquid and scrape out the dirt that has attached to the inside of the vase. clean the outside as well and rinse off the cleaner well. Dry with a dry cloth or tissue.

  • Adding Water & Preservatives
Scroll to Continue

Fresh, pure water is absolutely imperative to maintaining cut flowers. To start with fill pure freshwater that has commercially made flower preservative added to it - this is a mixture of sugar, an acidifier and a microorganism inhibitor - Since we usually remove a majority of the leaves, plants get deficient on food (carbohydrates) since

  • they have been de-leaved, and,
  • they are placed indoors without direct sunlight and in much-reduced light.

Because of the above 2 reasons, the cut flowers get deficient on food and it thus becomes imperative to add food in the form of sugar in the water.

Also, the acidifier helps to maintain the Ph of the water close to that of the cell sap and also makes the pigment and colour of the flowers more stable. Red roses turn blue without the addition of an acidifier or preservative.
Alkaline water shortens the life of cut flowers.
The microorganism inhibitor contains the growth of the bacteria and keeps the water free of them.

A process called hardening or conditioning goads the cut flowers to take up water in huge quantities. The process is fairly simple and is given below.

Place the freshly cut stems in water which is brought to a temperature of 110 deg F. Before you put in the cut flowers remember to add the preservative.
Place the vase with the cut flowers in a cool place for about 1-2 hours. It has been found that at this temperature the water uptake is rapid and quick.
The flowers lose less water because of the cooler location and the higher intake of water ensures proper hydration of the cut flowers.

Once the hardening process is complete, top up the water as and when required with fresh water to which floral preservative has been added.

  • Cutting Off The Leaves

Before the cut flowers are put in the vase, cut away the leaves that are going to remain submerged in water as they will rot in any case and spoil the water due to mould and bacterial growth.

Roses tend to stay better if the stems are de leaved. Leaves also tend to take up a lot of water as also the flowers so removing leaves removes the competition for water.

  • Cutting The Stems Clean

It is important to use the right tools to cut the stems. Do not use scissors as they crush and smash the stems due to their thickness. Remember a crushed stem will not intake the full amount of water.
To do this either use clippers or shears. You can cut both the stems as well as flowers with this. Just make sure they are clean.
It has been found that cutting the stem at a 45 degree angle ensures more water absorption due to the larger area available.

Also cut the stems every 3rd day. It helps the stem to absorb more water.

  • Topping Up The Water

Top up with water, that has the flower preservative added at the recommended levels, as and when required.

  • Location Within The House

Keep the cut flowers in a cool place in the room away from direct sunlight, other pieces of equipment that expel or radiate heat and also fans. These factors increase heat and induce water loss.

Some Important Points To Be Kept In Mind

Change Vase Water Every 2 Days

This is the most effective way to keep the cut flowers fresh for a long time.
Also, use tepid water for cut flowers but cold water for those with bulbs like hyacinths, tulips and the like.

Do Not Keep Cut Flowers Close To Fruits

Fruits release gas that causes them to wilt faster, for example, Apples release ethylene gas.

Do Not Overcrowd The Flowers

It is essential to keep the air circulation around the flowers moving, hence do not jam-pack them.

Trim Off Dead Flowers Regularly

To prolong the life of the healthy flowers it is important to trim off the dead flowers regularly and as soon as possible.

Time Of Cutting flowers

Cut flowers only in the early morning hours. It helps as the sugar content in the flower is at its peak. Some dew on the leaves also indicates it is the right time to cut.
Late evening, when the weather has cooled down, is the next best time.

Roses, Gladioli, Daffodils And Irises, Poppies

Cut when the flowers are buds.

Dianthus, Marigolds, Delphiniums, Zinnias, Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, Asters

Cut flowers when they open out well.

Remember, freshly cut flowers from your own garden will last longer than ones bought from a florist.

How To Keep Cut Flowers Fresh

How To Make cut Roses Last Longer

How To Make Cut Flowers Last Longer

© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly


Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 26, 2013:

@Lisa-thanks and good to see you!

@Natashalh-good to know you fond tips you could use to enhance the life of cut flowers. Thanks and good to see you.

Natasha from Hawaii on May 26, 2013:

Really cool tips! My man likes buying flowers, but I always have troule keeping them looking nice. The recipes for flower preservatives are interesting, and I never thought to keep them out of direct light. Thanks!

Liz Rayen from California on May 25, 2013:

Great hub rajan! I love the photos! Absolutely Stunning!--Voted up+--Lisa♥

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 03, 2013:

Thanks Pinki. I am glad you like the information. Yes it has started getting hot here too. Good to know you are from Jalandhar.

pinki on April 03, 2013:

tianks rajan for infermation iamveryhappy because summeriscoming.iamfrom jalander.nowincanada.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 17, 2013:

Thanks Craig. I hope you can benefit from this info.

Craig Gibson from Traverse City Michigan on February 16, 2013:

I enjoyed reading your hub. I buy a lot of cut flowers where I live. Thanks for the information.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 24, 2012:

@ Mohka - thanks for the visit.

@ Marlene - Thanks for appreciating the info and thanks for the visit.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on December 24, 2012:

You weren't kidding when you said the process was part science. I'll have to save this hub just to read it again. Lots of great information here. I didn't know red roses turn blue without the addition of an acidifier or preservative. That's the kind of information that makes this hub so helpful.

MohkaUK on November 28, 2012:

Thank you for the hub, I'll pass these tips on to my wife! She can't seem to make flowers last!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 13, 2012:

Hi RT,

Thanks for appreciating and for the visit.

RTalloni on October 13, 2012:

You've included some new-to-me tips for keeping cut flowers fresher. Thanks for sharing your recipe, too.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 31, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by to read and comment, Letitia. I'm glad you found it useful and I hope you try this recipe.


Letitialicious from Paris via San Diego on August 31, 2012:

This is such useful information, the effect of fruit on flowers particularly surprised me. I'll try your recipe for a flower preservative. Many thanks for prolonging the lives of so many cut flowers!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 28, 2012:

Thanks very much Kenneth. I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for sparing time to read, comment and vote.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on June 28, 2012:

rajan, nice hub and very well presented. Voted up and all the way. Perfectly-written and I love flowers, especially red roses. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and writing with us.


Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 27, 2012:

@ ishwaryaa - I'm glad you found the hub useful. The recipe for the homemade preservative is easy to prepare and will keep the flowers fresher much longer along with the tips given.

Thanks for sparing time to read and vote and share it too.

@ Angela Kane - I am sure following these tips will ensure your cut flowers lasting fresher, longer.

Thanks for giving the hub a read and leaving your appreciation.

Angela Kane from Las Vegas, Nevada on June 27, 2012:

Thanks for tips. My flowers usually last about 1week so any method I can use to increase their freshness is very useful.

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on June 27, 2012:

An extremely informative and helpful hub! Your list of suggestions, especially the simple homemade flower preservatives are very handy! I like fresh flowers and like to keep them longer. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & Socially Shared

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 22, 2012:

I'm so happy that you found the hub a practical guide so to speak. Thanks for liking and commenting. I appreciate it anglnwu.

Rosie Rose from Toronto, Canada on June 22, 2012:

Hiya Rajan, I love flowers.. flowers make me happy. But more often than not, they wilt in a couple of days, and I feel so bad. I enjoyed reading this very informative hub, and thank you for adding the recipes for preservative. Awesome! Voted up and shared. Now, off I go to buy flowers. Cheers!

Have a nice day,


anglnwu on June 22, 2012:

I love this hub. I love flowers and frequently make flower arrangments for occasions and for personal edification (so to speak). I've learned lots from you and will be bookmarking this. Thanks for the homemade preservatives--didn't know it's that simple. Totally awesome and useful.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 22, 2012:

Shelley, thanks for reading and I'm glad you found it useful. I'm happy to receive such compliments. Thank you for reading.

Shelley Watson on June 22, 2012:

Hi Rajan, One of my favourite flowers is the St.Joseph's Lily, so I will most definitely use your advice and as usual your hub is a feast for the eyes. Thank You

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 20, 2012:

@ Ionizer, just follow these tips. however do not use cut flower food and do not touch the delicate inner flower parts. Touching the stigma distributes the pollen within and causes rapid withering of the flower.

Thanks for reading.

@ Ruchira, thanks for reading, voting and sharing. I'm glad you found info that you could use.

Ruchira from United States on June 20, 2012:

Great information Rajan.

Did not know about not placing the flowers near fruits. Mine are always near them.

thankyou!! voted up and sharing it across

Ionizer2012 from Kirkland, WA on June 20, 2012:

Beautiful pics, any tips on orchids?

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 19, 2012:

@ Peggy, I am glad you liked the information and the flower preservative recipe for making it at home. Thanks for voting and sharing the hub. Nice to see you.

@ vocalcoach, nice to get so much appreciation. You are so kind. Thank you for reading, giving so many votes and of course sharing.

@ brenda, I'm happy that you found this so useful and appreciate it so much. Thank you.

@radhika, I'm glad you found a number of ideas you can apply. Thanks for all the votes, appreciation and sharing.

@rebecca, glad you like the recipe and like quite a few things. Thanks for visiting and also sharing it.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on June 19, 2012:

Thanks for that recipe. Surprised to see bleach as an ingredient. How clever. I am copying it down and then sharing!

Radhika Sreekanth from Mumbai,India on June 19, 2012:

These flowers look beautiful and the tips are very useful for preserving their beauty. I learned several ideas that I can apply in future.

Voted up and beautiful.

Sharing with my friends here.

brenda12lynette from Utah on June 19, 2012:

Thanks for the advice! This will come in handy when I help with my friend's flowers at her wedding in a few weeks! Voted up!

vocalcoach on June 19, 2012:

rajan - I'm such a fan! Every hub you offer teaches me and inspires me.

This one is no exception. The videos are very good and the photo of the white roses with baby's breath is stunning!

Your detail to the topic at hand clarifies each step. Thank you and voted up and across except for funny. Sharing!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 19, 2012:

Very thorough explanation of how to keep fresh cut flowers to last a bit longer. I also liked the recipe you included for making a flower preservative. Voted up, useful and will share. Thanks!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 18, 2012:

Thanks for appreciating the write up. You will definitely have the cut flowers last fresher and longer by using the strategies mentioned here. Glad you stopped by.

Thanks for the votes.

creative1975 from Christchurch, NZ on June 18, 2012:

Great tips! I will definitely put these into practice the next time I buy some fresh flowers. Nicely written too! I vote up and interesting hub.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 18, 2012:

Good to know you enjoyed this hub, Dora. I'm glad I could make it interesting and informative.

Thanks for the read, votes and support. Nice to see you here.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 18, 2012:

Thanks for this lesson, rajan. There are so many things I didn't know, even the reason for cutting the leaves. Voting up and useful. Good job!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 17, 2012:

unknown spy, thanks for all the kind words. I am happy you like the hub. Thanks for all the votes. You are a marvellous supporter and a loved friend. Thank you.

DragonBallSuper on June 17, 2012:

You're hub is great, very useful. Love the pictures of flowers too, its like the scent is overpowering my computer :) Voted up and all. Anyway, check part 4 of my hub. hope you'll like it.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 17, 2012:

@ N T T, your hub is really good so I had to link it. Thanks for reading, liking and saying it in so many words. I'm glad you visited.

@ brittanytodd, thanks for all the nice words. I'm happy you found it worthy of bookmarking it. Thanks for the vote. Mahalo.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 17, 2012:

@ ashish, thanks for reading.

@ RealHousewife, I'm glad the info is useful. Thanks for stopping by.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 17, 2012:

@ Just Ask Susan, thanks for reading and appreciating. If there is no readymade flower preservative at hand using Aspirin is a good choice as it makes the water acidic and helps in prolonging the life of the cut flowers.

@ Christy, Glad you liked the info. Thanks for the vote and sharing.

Brittany Kennedy from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on June 17, 2012:

What a beautiful and well-written hub! Great work! I will have to vote this up and save it in my bookmarks for later. Aloha.

NotTooTall from The Land of Pleasant Living on June 17, 2012:

Hi rajan jolly,

I enjoyd reading your Hub. Nice photos too!

Thank you for linking to my Hub.


Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on June 17, 2012:

Beautiful, I love fresh flowers and I'm growing a ton of them this year!

I didn't know you should cut those leaves off before you submerge them in water - and I do place them in direct sunlight! Yikes! Thank you so much for this informative hub! Now I'll be able to keep my flowers fresh longer - and in winter I buy them about every week just because they make me feel better and they smell so good! Maybe a longer life will save me some bucks, huh?

Ashish Joshi from India on June 17, 2012:

Very useful tips...some I had never hear or even thought of. Thanks.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on June 17, 2012:

What an interesting and very useful hub. I learned a lot. I do love fresh flowers! A vote up and a share for this one.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 17, 2012:

Great tips for keeping fresh cut flowers longer. I didn't know about the warm water before. My grandmother used to put a crushed aspirin in the water before adding the fresh cut flowers.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 17, 2012:

Stephanie, water uptake is much more and faster when the water is warmer. This helps the freshly cut flowers start off with an advantage. I'm sure your cut flowers will love it.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on June 17, 2012:

Great tips for keeping cut flowers fresh longer! I just cut a bouquet of roses and hydrangeas for our dining table and will be sure to place them in warm water to hydrate them before arranging. Thanks for the tips!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 17, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by and appreciating, Bill. Glad you liked.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 17, 2012:

Well done Rajan! Some great tips just in time for our summer!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 17, 2012:

@ Bredavies - Thanks for stopping by and sharing the hub.

@ poshcoffeeco - Glad you liked the hub. Thanks for your input. Appreciate your stopping by.

Steve Mitchell from Cambridgeshire on June 17, 2012:

Very concise article. You are certainly right about the sugar aspect helping to keep the flowers longer. A splash of lemonade in the water makes them last and bloom for ages when they should be past their best.

Bredavies on June 16, 2012:

perfect! thanks for the advice. I'll share your hub!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 16, 2012:

@ debbiepinkston - thanks for stopping by.

@ Gin - Thank you for the feedback.

Gin on June 16, 2012:

I also like keeping one of the flowers and just press it in photo album :) wonderful tips!

Debbie Pinkston from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas on June 16, 2012:

Great information! Thank you!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 16, 2012:

Thanks for reading and appreciating Angelo.

Angelo52 on June 16, 2012:

Lots of good information for keeping your cut flowers from wilting quickly.

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