How do you keep cut flowers looking fresh? 3 amazingly easy expert tips to extend the life of your blooms

Knowing how to keep cut flowers looking fresh for longer means you can create floral displays that just keep on looking good

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If you've received a beautiful bouquet filled with roses, ranunculus, sweet pea or peonies or just bought yourself a simple spray of your floral favorites, you may want to know how to keep cut flowers looking fresh for longer? 

Vases filled with flowers brighten up a home and cheer the soul, and a little care goes a long way. The good news is, it's entirely possible to extend the life of cut flowers with three simple steps. 

Of course, each flower has its own merits and likes and dislikes but there are some general guidelines that apply to mixed bouquets of blooms. See what experts recommend.

How to keep cut flowers looking fresh

1. Snip the stems 

large bouquet of flowers in a vase

(Image credit: Future / Katya De Grunwald)

Trimming the stems of your flowers before you arrange them, enables them to drink the water you're placing them in. This helps them to live longer.

'Use clean floral shears or sharp scissors,' says Joan Wyndrum, co-founder of Bloomsbythebox. 'Ordinary household scissors can crush the stems of your flowers and prevent proper hydration.'  

'Trim at least 1/2 an inch off each stem,' says Christina Stembel, founder of Farmgirl Flowers. 'Aim for a 45° angle as this provides more surface area for the flowers to drink from. It'll also stop the stems from sitting flush to the bottom of the vase, where bacteria builds up.'

Reducing the build up of bacteria in the vase water, will also give your cut flowers a fighting chance at a longer life, which brings us to the next step.

2. Change the water daily and retrim the stems

white vase filled with flowers in a white kitchen

(Image credit: Future / Simon Brown)

Many of us are guilty of arranging flowers in a vase of fresh water then promptly forgetting about them. At least, until they start wilting. However, to keep your cut flowers looking fresh, it's well worth refreshing the vase water regularly, a key tip we saw when looking at how to care for daffodils in a vase that applies more generally, too.

'If the water is cloudy, it time to change it,' says Eugenie at Brooklyn based Hanato Floral Design. 'Aim to change it every two days.'

'When changing the vase water, inspect the stems at the same time,' says Jessica Hall, co-founder, Harmony Harvest Farm. 'Be sure to cut out anything that looks nasty and give it a little spruce up.

'It's important to remove stems when they start to look bad, as they attract bacteria in water and shorten the life of the flowers. Arrangements are meant to be interactive, so as blooms get called home, rearrange the stems, and move them to a smaller vase if need be.'

3. Keep away from heat and cold

flowers in a metallic vase

(Image credit: Future / Katya de Grunwald)

It's tempting to put a beautiful vase of flowers on display on a window ledge but this is not always advisable, particularly if it's a sunny spot or close to a radiator.

'Unlike in the field, cut flowers don't love sunshine or heat,' says Christina at Farmgirl Flowers. 'In fact, both can dramatically shorten their lifespan in the vase. So sunny windowsill are off limits. Placing a vase of flowers three feet, or so, away from a heat source is best.' 

'In order for them to last as long as possible, keep your flowers away from cold drafts and fruit too,' adds Eugenie at Brooklyn based Hanato Floral Design.

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.