How to care for fresh cut flowers

Like other living things, flowers need love and care. PHOTO | POOL

It feels lovely to receive fresh flowers, so you would want to keep blooms alive and looking vibrant for as long as possible.

Everybody loves fresh flowers. Their lovely colour brings life to your space, adding a finishing touch to any room.

A lot of theories and tricks have flocked the market, from my friend’s opinion that a few tablespoons of sugar and vinegar always stretch the life of bloom, to a suggestion made by some experts that aspirin and vodka will increase flowers' longevity.

Like other living things, flowers need love and care.

First, keep in mind that some flowers naturally last longer than others. Roses, lilies, and sunflowers tend to stay fresher for longer. Blooms that are notorious for wilting after only a few days include hyacinths, lilacs, daffodils, and tulips.

Marion Wambui, a florist designer and flower care expert at Beautiful bouquets Kenya says “most cut flowers can last anywhere from 7-12 days if properly cared for, however, there are easy ways to make your bouquets last longer."

So how can you make them last as long as possible?

Cut the stems

Before you put those roses in water, trim 1-2 inches off the end of each steam. Cut at an angle that allows the stems to take in water more easily since they are not resting flat against the bottom of the vase.

Like other living things, flowers need love and care. PHOTO | POOL

Prune extra leaves

It is important to remove any leaves that will fall below the water line to prevent bacterial growth. Check your flowers daily to remove dead leaves and petals. Decaying leaves make a good medium for bacteria and fungi.

Pick the right vase and water quality

Just because the florist hands you a bunch of peonies on long stems doesn't mean they should be put in a tall vase. Bigger, heavier blooms should be cut short and put in a low vase where they can support each other when they open or have room to spread out, while lighter, more delicate flowers can be kept in a taller vase.

Make sure you are not crowding the vase either.

One of the largest deterrents to fresh-cut flowers is bacteria. Bacteria and fungi are everywhere and are ready to enter the cut surface of the plant system and multiply.

It is important therefore to always start with clean water to protect and preserve the flower.

Change the water every few days

If the water becomes cloudy, it should be completely replaced with a fresh one. Similarly, as the water level gets low, you must re-fill vases. You can re-trim the stems whenever you change the water.

Avoid these flower foes

Some flowers will last longer in a cooler room if you keep them out of direct sunlight.

Avoid placing them near appliances that generate high or low temperatures like the stove, air conditioner, ceiling fans, and even your computer or TV.

Open windows will also cause them to dehydrate more quickly, and keep them away from fresh fruit which releases tiny amounts of gas that can cut the lifespan of your blossoms.

How to make your cut-flowers last longer with additives

Flower food packet

When a flower is attached to the plant, it receives nourishment that allows it to grow. When cut, it automatically losses its source of nourishment and water.

Marion Wambui is the owner of Beautiful Bouquets Kenya, a fresh flower and gift shop located in Nairobi. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

The pre-mixed flower food that comes in the little packet when you buy flowers is one of the best methods for keeping fresh-cut flowers alive for longer.

It is a mix of the three essential things flowers need - carbohydrates (sugars), biocides (cleansing agents), and acidifiers.

The ingredients promote cell metabolism, combat bacteria, and adjust the pH of the water to increase water uptake. Just add a new packet to your vase whenever you change the water.


Ever wondered why florists put their bouquets in the fridge? Ms Wambui says flowers thrive in cooler temperatures.

Storing the flowers in the refrigerator overnight will help slow down the process of water loss and keep your blooms looking crisp.

Ms Wambui shares some of the tricks she has successfully used for perfect blooms.

“The easiest is to keep some kind of flowers together, then separate your blooms with types and they will for sure last longer,” she says.


If bleach fights bacteria on floors and countertops, it only makes sense that it will kill the nasties in your vase water too. However, Ms Wambui warns against using a lot of bleach as it is bad for your blossoms.


The copper in coins, especially pennies, has acidic properties which also fight bacteria growing in your water and on your flowers. Just one penny on the bottom of the vase will help your tulips open up.

Like other living things, flowers need love and care. PHOTO | POOL

Apple Cider Vinegar and sugar

The sugar helps feed the flowers the right nutrients to survive longer even after they are cut.

The vinegar keeps the pH of the flowers balanced, preserving and prolonging their lifespan

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