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12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer

Here's how to ensure the beautiful fresh-cut flowers from your garden last for days and days.
By Sarah Nixon
12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer

When I started growing flowers in my first garden it was a huge pleasure to carry them into the house and live with them more intimately. That experience sent me down the path of becoming an urban flower farmer. And I learned a lot along the way. Here are some tips for picking flowers from your garden or balcony to bring into your own home so they last as long as possible. (The tips also apply to bouquets.)

cutting flowers tips

1. Hydration is key

Make sure your plants are well hydrated before picking. If the weather is dry, give them a good soaking the day before or several hours before you pick.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Kristin Sjaarda.

2. Time of day matters

Cut flowers in the morning or evening if possible, and pop them directly into water. Make sure your clippers are sharp and your bucket is very clean.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Instagram/mylusciousbackyard.
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3. Let ’em rest

After cutting let the flowers, sit in a cool spot to have a long drink before you start designing with them.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Kristin Sjaarda.

4. Clean, clean, clean

Once you’ve chosen a vase, give it a thorough wash so it’s perfectly clean. If the neck is too small to get your hand into, use a bottle brush or pour a little rice in with a touch of water and swirl around to get into the corners. If you use soap, be sure to rinse well.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Instagram/mylusciousbackyard.

5. Lots of water

Fill your vase about three-quarters full of water. Re-cut the flower stems on an angle to give them a large surface area for maximum water intake.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Kristin Sjaarda.
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6. Trim, trim, trim

Remove any foliage that will be below the waterline. This will help keep the water free of bacteria, which will clog the stem and reduce the amount of water the flower can absorb.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Instagram/mylusciousbackyard.

7. Find a shady spot

Unlike house plants, cut flowers do not like to be in the sun. Keep them in a cool spot out of direct light and change the water every day or two. Re-cutting the stems when you change the water can also help keep them fresh.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Instagram/mylusciousbackyard.

8. Fragrance is fleeting

Often the most beautiful, fragrant flowers such as garden roses and sweet peas are the ones with the shortest vase life. Love them up while you can and don’t be surprised if they only last a few days.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Instagram/mylusciousbackyard.
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9. Lilies last

Lilies are easy to grow and make for long lasting cut flowers. One stem of a scented variety can fill your home with fragrance. For the longest vase life, pick when the first bud has coloured up — the others will open in time. Leave one-third of the stem on the plant to provide nutrients to the bulb for next year’s flowers. As the flowers open, remove the stamens (those little stems in the middle of the flower that hold the pollen) —they'll stain fabrics and the flowers themselves.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Instagram/Maria Quistdorff.

10. Peonies last even longer

If picked at the right time, peonies can provide weeks of flowers in your home. As the buds mature, there is a point when they soften and feel like a marshmallow. If picked now they will give the longest vase life, or you can store them in your fridge dry-wrapped in newspaper for a few weeks. When you take them out, re-cut the stems, put them in water and they will quickly bloom for you.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Instagram/mylusciousbackyard.

11. Keep the stems long on cosmos

Cosmos make a lovely cut flower in a loose arrangement or massed on their own. Cutting them with long stems will also encourage more stems to grow from the base. For a vase life of five days, pick when the petals are starting to unfurl and watch them bloom on your kitchen table.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Instagram/mylusciousbackyard.
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12. Dahlias must be almost fully open

Late summer and fall is the dahlias time to shine. They like to be picked when they are almost totally open, but before the pollen has bloomed in the centre of the flower or the petals at the back of the flower have begun to wilt. You can expect a vase life of about five days for these beauties.

12 Pro Secrets To Make Fresh Flowers Last LongerPhoto, Instagram/mylusciousbackyard.

Sarah Nixon is an urban flower farmer and floral designer in Toronto. Since 2002 her flower company, My Luscious Backyard, has sustainably grown over 50 varieties of cut flowers in a micro-farm in many residential yards in Toronto’s downtown west side. 

More:
How to make herb-infused oils
10 flowers to attract bees and butterflies
How to make Instagram-worthy bouquets with flowers from your backyard

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