How to Keep Flowers Fresh

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Wondering how to keep cut flowers fresh longer? We tested 8 methods for keeping cut flowers fresh to show which worked and which didn’t!

A close up photo of a white hydrangea

I’m a huge fan of having fresh flowers in the house whenever possible, even if they are just cuttings from the yard. Over the years I’ve tested so many methods for how to make cut flowers last longer and today I have the verdict on 8 different tricks I found online!

Here are the methods I tested, read on for a comparison of how each worked.

  • Asprin
  • Bleach
  • Penny
  • Vodka
  • 7-Up
  • Refrigerate
  • Flower Food Packet & Homemade Flower Food
overhead view of red roses and rosemary in mason jar vase sitting on red and white striped plate

Basic Tips for Keeping Flowers Fresh

First, when arranging flowers always remove any foilage below the water line to avoid bacteria buildup and give the stems a fresh cut at an angle at least 2-3 inches above the bottom cut to optimize water intake.

Change out the water in the vase every 2-3 days and keep away from direct sunlight and ripening fruit. (The ripening fruit emits a gas that can cause flowers to wilt faster, yay for science!)

A close up of a pink lily

How do Florists Keep Flowers Fresh?

Of all the methods I’ve tested the clear winner, which you can probably guess by going into any floral shop, was refrigerating the bouquet. To keep flowers fresh in the fridge at home you would simply refrigerate them overnight and display them during the day only.

It makes the blooms last way longer but if we’re honest, who has time or room in their fridge for that?? Maybe if I had a second refrigerator I could pull that one off routinely but I think for most of us it’s just not practical. So what are the next best options if you’re looking for how to keep flowers fresh without a fridge?

Thes best result I’ve found behind refrigerating my cut flowers is to add clear soda like 7-Up to the vase. For a standard size vase 1/4 cup of 7-Up does the trick.

Very similarly, adding a teaspoon of vodka runs a close second behind the soda. (I don’t drink soda so I’m far more likely to have vodka in the house than 7-Up!!?😂)


I had heard a ton of other methods for extending the life of cut flowers and tested them out.

Aspirin did not keep cut flowers fresh longer in my trials. It seemed to make no difference at all.

I had also heard that placing a penny in the vase with the water would make them last longer but that actually seemed to make my flowers open faster and therefore fade more quickly.

Adding bleach to the water also didn’t seem to make a difference for my flowers staying fresh. (Although combining it with sugar and acid to make flower food noted below did extend the life of the bouquet.)

A close up of a pink zinnia with yellow center in a vase

How Do You Keep Fresh Flowers From Dying?

The verdict: Adding the soda or vodka to the water along with keeping water fresh and trimming the stems every few days is my current method for making my cut flowers last longer. **Special note-this does NOT apply to hydrangeas, they have an entirely different set of rules you can find here.** I also have specific tips for how to keep tulips from drooping and keeping roses fresh as well as tips for arranging grocery store flowers.

Fresh Flower FAQs

How long do flowers last without water?

The time flowers can last out of the water varies widely by type of flower, hardiness, and condition. It’s best to get all flowers in water as soon as possible but thick stemmed plants like roses are more tolerant of time out of water than more delicate flowers like poppies.
Pick flowers that have not yet opened and look healthy for best results if you can’t get them in water right away.

How do you make flower food?

Store-provided flower food contains sugar, acid, and bleach to maintain the bouquets but you can make your own flower food at home easily. Simply combine the ingredients below and add to your vase water.
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon bleach
2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice

Which cut flowers last the longest?

Choosing hardy flowers that last goes a long way towards helping you to keep your cut flowers fresh, these are some long lasting varieties:

Have you tried any other ways to make flowers last longer that I should give a go? Let me know in the comments below!

This post was originally published in April 2018 and updated with new information May 2020.

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  1. Our roses are blooming, and we have fresh cut ones in the house everyday.
    Thanks for the tips to help them last a little longer!

    By the way…..the key lime pie turned out great! Thanks again for your help.
    Elaine W.

  2. Cut at 45 degree angle put the very tip of the stems in boiling water for just a second, makes them hold in moisture.

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