7 Expert Florist Tips for Outstanding Cut Flower Arrangements

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Fresh flowers brighten any space they occupy. I love to grow a number of my favorite flowers just for cutting. Once a week, I make a couple of fresh bouquets during the growing season and place them on my tables. They exude cheer and always seem to bring a smile to my face no matter how many times I look at them.  

There are loads of plants that grow beautiful blossoms, perfect for cutting and putting on display. Some of my favorites to grow include zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, yarrow, dianthus, gladiolus, and poppies. Of course, there are many more excellent choices from which to pick – these are just my personal favorites.  

No matter what you love to put into your fresh garden flower bouquet, I know that you desire your flowers to look great and last as long as possible.  With these tips from professional florists, your freshly- cut garden flower bouquets will stay looking their best for longer.

Expert Tip #1: Cut flower stems in water

When you bring your freshly cut garden flowers indoors, it is essential to cut the stems in water. Doing this helps to reduce contaminants and bacteria, keeping your flowers fresh for longer. Also, cutting stems under the water prevents air bubbles and allows flowers to absorb moisture. Fill your sink with water and cut the stems at a 45-degree angle using clean and sharp pruners. Cutting your stems a little every two to three days is also a good idea.

Expert Tip #2: Remove bottom foliage

Remove any leaves that will be under the water. They take up energy and don’t add anything to your display. Furthermore, leaving foliage in the water causes the cut flower to wilt quicker.

Expert Tip #3: Remove wilting petals

Removing any wilting or dead petals is essential to keeping your bouquet looking fresh and perky. Wilted flowers release ethylene gas – like ripening fruit – which may cause other flowers in the bouquet to wilt prematurely.

Expert Tip #4:  Support droopy flowers and stems

Certain cut flowers, including roses and tulips, sometimes have flimsy stems and droopy flower heads. To hold stems upright, slip a clear straw over the stem. For droopy flowers, use a pin in the middle of the flower head to hold it upright.

Expert Tip #5: Use a clean vase

I love to use vintage vases that I pick up at thrift stores to display my fresh cut flowers. Before I use these vases, I make sure to thoroughly disinfect them using a bleach and water or vinegar and water solution. Using a dirty vase introduces bacteria into the water, which can reduce the life of your fresh flowers.

Expert Tip #6: Use the right kind of water and change often

Cut flowers like warm water – between 50-60 degrees F works best. Water at this temperature reduces air bubbles in the stem and allows nutrients to travel up to feed flowers. It is also essential to change out this water frequently. Bacteria builds up when stems sit in water, and changing the water every few days will keep bacteria at bay. 

Expert Tip #6: Make your stay fresh solution

When you get cut flowers from your local grocer or delivered, you generally get a package of freshening powder that mixes with water. This package contains nutrient-rich plant food meant to keep flowers looking great for longer. When you cut your very own garden flowers for a beautiful bouquet, you can mix up your own quick energy plant food. Here is my favorite recipe.

  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • A few drops of household bleach
  • 1 quart of warm water

Expert Tip #7: Place flowers in a cool area without direct sunlight

Too much warmth or too little sunlight makes flowers wilt quickly. This means that placing your bouquet in front of a south-facing window might be a bad idea. Also, keep your bouquet away from fruits and veggies that give off ethylene gas, which can prematurely wilt flowers. When you want your bouquet to last a long time, place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Other tips for keeping your flowers fresh longer

Here are a few other tricks for keeping your cut flowers looking their best for longer.

  • Apple cider vinegar: Mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar with 2 tablespoons sugar and add it to vase water. Change every two days for freshness.
  • Hair spray: Not only does hairspray keep your fly-aways in check, but it also helps keep your flowers upright and looking fresh. To use, stand back about a foot from your bouquet and spray the undersides of the leaves and petals.
  • Vodka: A few drops of vodka in your fresh vase water helps to minimize bacteria growth. Add vodka every time you change the water.
  • Aspirin: Mixing one crushed aspirin to your vase of fresh flowers lowers water pH, which keeps flowers from wilting.
  • Pennies: Although it may seem strange, putting a penny or two in your vase can help protect your flowers from bacteria.This is because copper is a fungicide. Just be sure to clean off your pennies first before dropping them in. 

Here’s to your best looking and freshest cut flowers ever!

Happy Growing,

-Susan, CBHC and Master Gardener

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