30 Ways to Extend The Life of Cut Flowers


Birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations are great occasions to lavish your special one with the pretty things in life. From the big and bold bouquets to the bespoke bloom boxes, gifting flowers is a beautiful choice to bring joy into one’s life.

However, flowers can be costly and their beauty is rather fleeting.

Fortunately, there are many steps that you can follow to preserve your freshly cut flowers, prolong their vibrancy, and extend their lifespan for as long as possible.

Average Lifespan of Flowers

The lifespan of most flowers is 3-5 days. Depending on their type and how they are eventually handled, the average lifespan of fresh-cut flowers are as follows:

  • Chrysanthemums: Up to 14-21 days
  • Lilies: Up to 14 days
  • Roses: Up to 14 days (depending on the origin)
  • Orchids: : Up to 21 days
  • Sunflowers: Up to 7-14 days
  • Ranunculus: Up to 6 days
  • Carnations: Up to 14-21 days
  • Dahlias: Up to 2-5 days
  • Hydrangeas: Up to 3-6 days
  • Baby’s breath: Up to 8-12 days
  • Tulips: Up to 3-7 days

As a professional florist, we will review some of the popular methods used to prolong the life of your stems and whether they work.

Handling of the Flowers

Proper handling is essential to extend the life expectancy of your flowers.

  1. Cut the stems at an angle

Cutting each stem at a 45-degree angle individually is a great method to allow your flowers to absorb more water. The angled cut increases the amount of surface area, allowing the blooms to absorb more water and live longer.

2. Remove any extra leaves or foliage

Clearing away the extra leaves and foliage helps to reduce the possibility of bacteria growth on the extra leaves or foliage left on the flowers.

remove extra foliage to make fresh flowers last longer

3. Pick a right-sized vase

Putting all your flowers together in a small vase may look pretty on the outside but overcrowding can happen on the inside. This will cause the stems to wilt faster and release unwanted substances into the water. Try to use a bigger vase to prevent overcrowding. 

4. Remove all leaves below the water line

It is good to clear all the leaves underwater before placing your flowers into the vase. This will improve the quality of water and not let it turn into a hotbed for bacteria.

5. Prune wilting leaves and flowers

Before placing the flowers into the vase, it is recommended to remove any wilting leaves and flowers. They emit ethylene gas, which will cause other flowers to blossom more quickly than you want.

prune wilting leaves and flowers to make fresh flowers last longer

6. Use a glass container

Plastics don’t do well in acidic water that has added soda or vinegar. The acidic water will corrode the plastic container’s interior, ruining the aesthetics of the vase and making it harder to clean. It is best to use a glass container if you are adding soda or vinegar into the water.

use a glass container to make fresh flowers last longer

7. Re-trim the flower and change the water every 48 hours

After every 48 hours, remove around 1-inch of the stem to open up the stem pores. A cut flower stem will gradually seal up, preventing nutrients from being transported from the stem to the flower bud. This also helps to get rid of air bubbles stuck up in the stem and allows your blooms to absorb more water again.

8. Cut the flowers’ stems underwater or under running water

If you cut your stems in the open air, the stems may take in too much air, forming air bubbles that prevent the blooms from receiving water. Cutting the stems underwater or under running water will prevent air bubbles from entering the stems and blocking the water vessels. This method is particularly suitable for roses.

cut the flowers stems underwater or under running water to make fresh flowers last longer

Soluble Substances

Adding certain types of substances to the water can help to feed your flowers as well as combat bacterial growth.

9. Adding sugar

Sugar is an essential element that increases the plant’s photosynthesis rate, promoting the opening of the blooms. Pour two tablespoons of sugar into the water to nourish your flowers. However, do take note that sugar also promotes bacterial growth. This can be prevented by adding the other soluble substances listed below.

10. Adding apple cider vinegar

Flowers require sugar as a food source but sugar promotes bacterial development. You can still cultivate your flower blooms by adding sugar to your vase without causing any bacteria to form. The trick is to mix in some acid such as apple cider vinegar. It works great as a bacteria-fighting agent and removes any bacteria formed by the sugar.

adding apple cider vinegar to make fresh flowers last longer

11. Adding bleach

Water contains bacteria that will travel up the stems into the leaves and flowers. The bacterium makes your flowers “sick”, causing them to droop and die rapidly. Bleach contains 5 to 6 percent of chlorine and the chlorine can eliminate any harmful bacteria that may be found in the flower stems, water, or vase. However, while this method works well in preserving your flowers’ life, the stems will change colour due to the bleach and the petals will turn yellow.

adding bleach to make fresh flowers last longer

12. Using lemonade

If you don’t have any commercial-grade flower food available, a small amount of lemonade in water provides a quick fix. Sugar in the lemonade nourishes the plants and the acidic nature of the lemonade combats bacteria growth, extending the life of your flowers.

13. Using raw honey

Honey is a form of sugar that contains many active compounds that can cultivate the growth of flowers.

use raw honey to make fresh flowers last longer

14. Adding a few drops of essential oils

A few drops of essential oil can help to kill the bacteria that causes mould. Combined with your blooms, the scent of the oils also fills your room with fragrance. Some floral oils that can be used include lavender, ylang ylang, geranium, clary sage, roman chamomile, jasmine, tea tree oil, lemon oil, and rose.

essential oils to make fresh flowers last longer

15. Using Aspirin 

Aspirin ® , also known as Acetyl Salicylic Acid (ASA), is said to help increase the acidity of the water and aids the water in moving up the stem. Sadly, this method does not work well. While an aspirin a day may keep the doctor away, it certainly does not keep away the florist.

use aspirin to make fresh flowers last longer

16. Adding Listerine Antiseptic

Many individuals may be familiar with the well-known mouthwash Listerine Antiseptic but they may not be aware of this uncommon method of flower preservation. A capful of Listerine Antiseptic mouthwash added to the water is able to kill bacteria and help to better preserve your blooms.

adding listerine antiseptic to make fresh flowers last longer

17. Using citrus soda

Citrus soda, such as 7-Up and Sprite, increases the water’s acidic level and the sugar level of the water. It also sweetens the flowers and adds a mild sweet scent.

18. Adding Vodka

Vodka does contain antimicrobial properties which will delay wilting by inhibiting the plants and flowers’ production of ripening ethylene gas.

adding vodka to make fresh flowers last longer

19. Using glutamine

Glutamine is a type of nutrient that supports plant growth and development. It is scientifically proven that combining glutamine, salicylic acid (aspirin), and essential oils will effectively enhance the vase-life of carnations and roses[1].

20. Adding copper

Using a copper penny is the most economic and only non-soluble solution to extend the lifespan of the flowers. As copper is a fungicide, putting a penny in the water helps to protect your flowers from bacteria, fungi and yeast. Water is also low in copper and adding a penny gives it sufficient copper ions to extend the life of the flowers.

adding copper coin to make fresh flowers last longer

21. Using Viagra

Believe it or not, an unexpected research finding has indicated that adding 1 mg of Viagra to the water will double the shelf life of cut flowers [2]. Viagra slows down the breakdown of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), making the flowers stand up straighter for as long as a week beyond their natural life span. However, it is hard to measure and extract 1 mg from a Viagra pill, since it comes in 50 mg per pill. Viagra also only extends certain flowers’ shelf life and will not perform the same magic to enlarge all types of flowers’ stem vessels.


Just like how important it is for humans to drink up, flowers need to absorb their water too in order to stay vibrant and last longer. 

22. Use distilled or spring water

Avoid using tap water since it contains chlorine and unwanted minerals, which will compromise your flowers’ health.

23. Change the water every 48 hours

Changing the water regularly helps to keep it fresh and prevent bacteria from growing.

24. Use ice cubes whenever possible

Cold water slows down decomposition, bacteria, and mould growth, which causes the flowers to wither.

use ice cubes to make fresh flowers last longer

Professional, Commercial-Grade Solutions

A professional, commercial-grade solution is a more reliable and better option that allows your flowers to be preserved for a longer period of time.

25. Flora food

Though a slightly more costly option, flora food such as Floralife Crystal Clear is a proven method to prolong your flowers’ lives. You may get flora food from a florist shop in Singapore.

use flora food to make fresh flowers last longer

26. Spray-on liquid shield

Spray this solution onto your flowers’ petals, leaves, and stems. This gives them a thin coating of a special liquid shield. The liquid shield holds more moisture and reduces water loss, keeping the flowers more vibrant. Afterwards, you no longer have to mist your flowers with tap water anymore, which is beneficial as no fungi and bacteria will develop on the buds. Mould will also not grow on the stems. Similar to the flora food, this spray-on liquid shield is relatively expensive and can only be found in a florist shop in Singapore.

spray on liquid shield to make fresh flowers last longer


Flowers thrive when the environment they are in is clean, healthy, and suitable for them.  

27. Avoid direct sunlight and heat

Sunlight increases your flowers’ photosynthesis level, causing them to bloom quickly and wither at a quicker rate.

avoid direct sunlight to make fresh flowers last longer

28. Move flowers away from ripening fruits

Ripe fruits such as bananas emit ethylene gas, which has a chain-reaction impact on your flowers and speeds up their blooming process.

move flowers away from ripening fruits to make fresh flowers last longer

29. Avoid exposing flowers to cigarette smoke

Fine particles in the smoke will collect on the surface of the stems and flowers. This obstructs the stomata of the plants, which is their respiration and transpiration system.

avoid exposing to cigarette smoke to make fresh flowers last longer

30. Move the flowers to the refrigerator at night

Store your flowers in the refrigerator every night before going to bed. Return them back to its daytime vase the following morning. The lifespan of your blooms is greatly extended after a chilly 8-hour rest at the refrigerator. While this is one of the most troublesome methods, it is also the most effective method to prolong the life of your flowers based on our experience. The only drawback is that you need to have ample refrigerator space.

move the flowers to the refrigerator at night to make fresh flowers last longer

Summary of How to Preserve Your Flowers

We’ve reviewed the many different ways that you may have read online to prolong your flowers’ lives. Our take is to combine a few of the simple tips to get the best results:

  1. Use a suitably sized vase
  2. Trim your flowers’ stems underwater or under running water
  3. Use distilled water
  4. Add sugar or honey as flower food
  5. Re-trim wilted flowers and leaves
  6. Change the water after every 48 hours

They say good things don’t last forever but follow those tips above and your breezy, beautiful bouquets will certainly last to see the light in your home.

At Lush and Love, we pride ourselves in delivering the freshest cut flowers and the best flower delivery experience, with next-day, hand delivery. We’re a florist shop in Singapore that offers a variety of hand bouquets, bloom boxes, and flower boxes. Our flowers include roses, baby’s breath, carnations, gerberas, hydrangeas, and sunflowers.

We also offer floral subscriptions to spruce up and refresh your residential or commercial spaces regularly so you can always look forward to the best blooms and pretty petals.

Contact us at 9395 8728 to get the right flowers for your special someone today.