How To Make Your Cut Flowers Last Longer

I love having fresh flowers in my flat, absolutely love it.

I appreciate that they're a luxury, sometimes an affordable one, but an unnecessary purchase none the less. However, without cheer in our homes where lays the sense in being frugal?

I'm lucky - in that I adore carnations; is there a better flower? The range of colours? The delicate frilly petals? The choice of bloom size? The fluffiness? They've got an unfortunate reputation as the cheap petrol station forecourt flower. The lame apology flower. The forgotten wedding anniversary flower. The "don't go on a second date if he turns up with carnations" flower. I say no. Celebrate the carnation, because it is cheap, it's also versatile, and boy does it last in a vase. Give me carnations over roses any day, thank you.

I'm a stickler for ensuring that I'm getting value for money on anything that I spend my pennies on, which is why when I buy a bunch of flowers, I want to make sure they stick around to brighten my room, and my life, for more than just a few days.

If you've bought (or perhaps received, you lucky little muffin) a bunch of flowers, here are my tips for keeping them bright and perky for as long as possible.

Buy the carnations
See above, when choosing flowers to bring home, always check out the choice of carnations, not only are they usually some of the cheapest blooms on sale, but they can last weeks if they're properly looked after. You can usually buy several bunches for the price of a single bunch of roses, go for clashing or complimentary shades and mix them up in a wide mouthed vase or even a rose bowl for big fluffy impact.

Those little packets of plant food
If you buy flowers from the supermarket, or similar, they'll often come with a little sachet of "plant food" taped to their packaging. It's amazing the number of people who throw this away without using it. These sachets contain anti-bacterial elements to kill any bacteria that might damage and kill your flowers, as well as sugars to feed the plant and replace what it is no longer receiving from it's Mother plant, as well as acids that increase and assist in the uptake of water. Use it. You paid for it after all.

This is an old "Nan trick", but adding half a cup of lemonade to your vase can help to prolong the life of your cut flowers, and pick them up when they start to droop. It's only the sugar content in the fizzy drink that works it's magic, but a bottle of cheap (nasty) lemonade is a matter of pence, and it can live in the door of your fridge only to be used for flowers.

Apple Cider Vinegar
If you don't have/want lemonade at home, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to your vase, it'll do the same job, with some differing chemistry.

Again, a crushed aspirin in your flower's water will do them wonders.

Hanging your flowers upside down and spraying the underside of their petals and leaves with your bog-standard hairspray will help to keep them looking fresh for longer.

Change the water
Many people fail to change the water that their flowers stand in. Stagnant water allows bacteria to breed which speeds up the rotting of the stems, and causes the flowers to die before their time is truly up. You should change the water in your vase completely at least every other day, but if you remember to change it daily you could double the time your flowers are on display.

Think about location
Your dining table may be the perfect place to display fresh flowers, aesthetically, but the location of said table may not be best suited to keeping the flowers looking their best. Whatever flowers you've brought home, make friends with Google and research the best conditions for keeping them alive. Hydrangeas, for example, will wilt very quickly in direct sunlight, so the windowsill isn't the place. Blogger's favourites, peonies, have to be kept cool.

Cut with care 
Flowers should always be cut at an angle of roughly 45 degrees. Cutting at a slant means that you increase the surface area that can suck up water.

Make sure your vase is clean
If your flowers wilt prematurely it's probably fair to blame bacteria above any other factor. Using a squeaky clean vase will ensure that your blooms get the best possible start.

Remove any leaves that'll sit beneath the water line
Submerged leaves will rot, increasing the amount of bacteria in the water (and creating a funky smell) which could shorten the life of your bouquet.

Don't encourage daffodils to make friends
The stems of daffodils contain a compound which acts as a poison to other flowers and plants. Make sure that daffodils are always displayed on their own and don't mix them in with other blooms, they're murderous little buggers.

I usually display photographs of the cut flowers in my flat on Instagram. You can follow me here and I'd love it if you'd tag me (@ashlawrencerye) in your own flower photography, especially if you try out any of these tips!


  1. I didn't know that about lemonade, or aspirin, thanks for the tips. Asters are good value in autumn too.

    1. I'm so glad you mentioned asters, they're another of my favourite "cheap" flowers - I may have to go and treat myself to a bunch :)