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How to Extend the Life of Cut Flowers

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How to extend the life of cut flowers

Isn’t it the worst when you buy a vase full of beautiful flowers, only for them to be wilting and even dead just a few days later? The last thing you want is for people to come over and there be a vase of half dead flowers decorating the window ledge beginning to make the room smell of rot and carelessness. Well, we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks that you can use to extend the life of cut flowers to save you money and keep your vase is tip top shape.

How to keep flowers fresh in a vase

Flower Food

One of the main things to consider when trying to keep flowers for longer is that they will need some for of sustenance, i.e, flower food. A packet of flower food contains all kinds of things to help keep your flowers alive. Firstly, it contains the sugars needed to feed the flowers. Next, there will be some kind of bleach or cleaning alternative that helps to keep bacteria from growing. There is also likely to be an acid of some kind to help lower the pH of the water. This makes it easier and more effective for the plants to ‘eat’ the food. Real Simple magazine compared many ways of keeping your cut flowers fresh and they came up with a comprehensive winner - flower food!

In addition to flower food we would recommend other products that help to keep the water clean and eliminate any potential bad smells. For example, the  Aquamidas FreshaFlora. This is an anti-microbial disc that is made from real silver that helps to extend the life of cut flowers. It also helps prolong the life of the flower water so you don’t waste and food when changing the water. If you’re thinking of going with the flower food route (which you should be), a single purchase of the cheap, re-usable FreshaFlora will work fantastically well in tandem with the food to help you reach the absolute maximum life of the flowers. There is also the added bonus of the water being kept fresh and smell free.


Vinegar is meant to act as a bacteria growth stunting mechanism. The acidity of the vinegar is used to stop bacteria growing which helps to prolong the life of the flowers. Only a small amount is needed as too much can actually stop the growth of the flowers, the exact opposite of the effect you’re after.


A couple of teaspoons of sugar acts as a make-shift flower food. The sugar contains some similar nutrients to what the flower would be taking in when in the ground. We would recommend that if you’re going with the do-it-yourself method of keeping flowers fresh, then a mixture of sugar and vinegar can offer a great alternative to flower food. This is because the vinegar will help to fight the bacteria and the sugar will feed the flower. Now throw in some water treatment products like the  FreshaFlora and your flowers will be living for days longer than they normally would!


We’re talking about a clear soda like lemonade or Sprite. This is based on the same thinking behind the sugar and vinegar combo. The slight acidity of the soda and the high sugar contents will help to kill bacteria and feed the plant. A nice super-cheap, easy alternative to the comprehensive method mentioned at the top of this section.


If you’re not a soda person and don’t have any in the house, maybe you’ve got a little bit of vodka stored away. The vodka helps to slow the natural production of ethylene that makes flowers wilt. Therefore, adding a few teaspoons of vodka can prolong the life of cut flowers in a vase. If you’re willing to give up some vodka this can be a decent method of extending the life.

How not to keep flowers fresh


One of the most recommended ways of keeping flowers fresh is to throw a penny or two in the bottom of the vase or container. Pennies may work up to a point but as a lot of pennies around the world are not just copper but a mixture of metals you won’t be getting the ideal conditions to help your flowers thrive. Instead, any of the above methods will provide a better solution, and save you a penny.


The thought process behind bleach is that helps to reduce the build up of any bacteria in the water. Like the pennies, this can work but we’d recommend almost every other method. A couple of drops of bleach is all you’d need, but you can get the same effect from vinegar, soda and obviously plant food. The main reason we’d recommend against bleach is because it’s very easy to add too much. If you do accidentally add too much the stems of your flowers can go a sickly white colour. An embarrassing and unnecessary mistake that can be completely avoided if you go with the flower food and FreshaFlora method.


This is another popular method that doesn’t really work as well as you’d expect in real world scenarios. During many tests, such as in the experiment that Real Simple did, it has been shown that flowers don’t necessarily react well to the aspirin and regularly die quicker. We think that almost any alternative is a better option.

Additional Tips to Keep Your Cut Flowers Fresh

  • Before you even consider what to put in the water you want to make sure your vase is big enough and there is sufficient room for the flowers to live. If in doubt, use additional vases.
  • It’s recommended by many to trim your bouquet at 45 degrees. This gives a larger surface area for the flowers to take in the nutrients they need.
  • Try to make sure there are never any leaves floating in the water. This can cause an additional growth of bacteria and is very simple to correct.

Final Thoughts

The best way to keep your flowers as fresh as possible is without a doubt to add sufficient flower food with a microbial disc. This keeps the flowers fed, clean and the water fresh. If you don’t have those items to hand then there are many other alternatives that will do a decent job, but we’d recommend spending just a little to do it properly.


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