33 Quick and Easy Tips to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh

You know the No. 1 consumer objection to buying flowers? Longevity. The word fresh is the key to retaining repeat customers for flower arrangements. In addition to deterring people from buying flowers, wilted-too-soon flowers can hurt your profits and reputation. Cut flowers require TLC to not become fast-fading blooms. So what can you do to ensure your flowers stay fresher longer? Here are 33 quick but essential flower care and handling tips business-savvy floral professionals use, based on research from Smithers-Oasis company FloraLife.

What you do once your flower order arrives has a significant impact on how long they’ll look fresh.

As a bonus, at the end of this blog you find information on FloraLife’s Five Steps to Fresh and how to get a free analysis of your water source.

How fast does freshness fade?

Photo: Sharon McGukin
  • Flowers begin to wilt and die the moment a bloom is cut. This is called senescence and means a flower’s cells no longer divide and grow.
  • Before flowers end up in a fabulous wedding bouquet or event centerpiece, they travel from the farm to the supplier to you, the floral designer. As with people, travel and temperature variations can take a toll on flowers.
  • Unless you take steps to preserve the vitality of a cut flower once it is in your care, it will fade and wilt faster—possibly before you or your customer wants.

What you might not know about sanitizing

Photo: Sharon McGukin
  • For healthier flowers, always begin with a clean bucket, vase or container.
  • Why sanitize? Because bacteria clogs stems and produces ethylene, both detrimental to flower health.
  • Buckets should be washed after each use. FloraLife DCD (disinfectant, cleaner, deodorizer), designed specifically to clean all surfaces in flower preparation, is ideal for this.
  • After scrubbing with DCD, there is no need to rinse. It leaves a protective coating that helps to keep surfaces clean longer.

The florist rule of thumb is that your flower buckets and containers should be clean enough for you to drink from.

  • Place washed buckets upside down to dry or place them on a disinfected surface. Sitting clean bucket bottoms on an unsanitized floor and then stacking them when dry adds bacteria back into the buckets.
  • Keep your work table and tools clean as well. Floral Cleaner Wipes can be helpful in these areas.
  • When processing flowers, remove all foliage that will be below the water line. This prevents it from decaying in the water, which keeps the water cleaner and the stems flowing free.

Frank Feysa AIFD, PFCI offers some helpful tips in this video on how to sanitize your buckets, tools and work area.

Hydrate to pamper petals

  • Temperature greatly affects the vase life of flowers. Lowering it reduces flower metabolism (respiration and transpiration), similar to hibernation in some mammals.

Store fresh flowers in a 34 - 38° F cooler with 80 - 90% relative humidity. Store tropical flowers at 55 - 60° F or room temperature.

  • Use fresh cold water with flower food to rejuvenate travel stressed flowers.
  • Want to keep flowers crisp and fresh? Pre-chill your filled buckets and flowers in the cooler before placing the blooms into the cold water (with flower food).
  • Use water without added softeners. Sodium can decrease the life of some flowers

Flowers are foodies too

Photo: Sharon McGukin
  • Cut flowers need proper nutrition.
  • Which includes sugary drinks! Sugar is the carbohydrate energy source that keeps flowers fresher longer.
  • A well-designed flower food includes sugar, acidifiers and stem unpluggers. Acidifiers lower water pH to increase water and nutrient uptake. Stem unpluggers are a special mix of ingredients that lower pH to help eliminate stem plugging.
  • Contrary to what you might have read online, homemade solutions are not as effective as a complete flower food. Floralife® flower foods hydrate, nourish, promote optimal growth, decrease bent neck and increase bud opening in many varieties. Follow packet or label directions.
  • Flower food is most beneficial at the correct concentration. The easiest way to always deliver the correct amount is with an automatic proportioner (or dosing unit).
  • Give all flower stems a fresh cut before placing them into flower food solution. It helps ensure hydration.
  • When flowers are quick-dipped and held in a properly mixed flower food solution, waterways inside the stems open to absorb more water.

Five steps of flower freshness step two hydrate: Oasis Floral ProductsFrank offers suggestions for flower hydration in this video.

The no-cut exception

  • Haven’t tried no-cut Express flower food? You’ll save time and money by not re-cutting stems. Express eliminates the need to recut rose stems before putting them in water for storage. You simply strip foliage from the stems and drop the flowers into water without cutting.

Frank shares how Express products work in this video on nourishing your flowers.

Protecting designed flowers

Photo: Sharon McGukin

  • Heat and sun dry out cut flowers. For outdoor events, always take steps to help the flowers beat the heat.
  • If flowers must be placed in direct sun, cover them before the event with a lightweight light-colored damp cloth that can be easily removed. This will help deflect burning rays and cool the flowers.
  • Never use plastic, especially dark plastic. It can hold in heat and damage the flowers.

Be certain to hydrate fresh flowers on hot days in water with flower food added. This will help replenish food reserves lost through respiration.

  • Fully saturate floral foam with flower-food-filled water in advance.
  • For extra hydration, mist each design with an anti-transpirant when finished and again just before the event. Finishing Touch and Crowning Glory are popular choices.
  • After misting fresh wedding bouquets, place them in sealed plastic bags before storing in the cooler.
Finishing Touch is a systemic hydrating treatment that helps nourish flowers that are continuing to open. It is absorbed through the leaves and petals and allows the flowers to breathe. It is best used with flowers that have a water source. Crowning Glory is a topical hydrating treatment that helps to hold flowers in their current state of freshness. It contains a peptide with wax-like properties to hold in moisture. It is best for corsages, bouquets and flowers that have limited or no water source.

Frank covers protecting flowers in this video.

Customer care

  • How can we teach consumers to continue this life-extending process at home? By explaining at the time of sale that flowers live longer if placed away from direct sunlight, hot and cold drafts and televisions.
  • Include packets of flower food along with each sale.
  • Remind customers to replenish the vase or container with water with more Floralife® Flower Food solution as needed due to water uptake and evaporation.
  • To help perk your petals, Floralife flower food packages offers entertaining Food for Thought ideas with Did you Know care and handling tips. Each box offers 40-plus educational messages. The goal is to educate consumers on the need to continue flower care for the blooms they purchase.

Frank offers his thoughts on customer care in this video.

Get a free water analysis

Unsure about your working water source? Send a sample to Floralife. They’ll test your water free of charge to analyze pH, electrical conductivity and total dissolved solids, alkalinity and hardness. Follow these three steps to send a water sample for testing:
  • Fill a well-rinsed bottle (at least one pint) with your tap water.
  • Include your name, address and phone number (in case questions arise).
  • Mail to Floralife, Attn: Laboratory, 751 Thunderbolt Drive, Walterboro, SC, 29488.

Flower Care Basics

For floral professionals and flower enthusiasts, freshness is key. To enjoy lasting flower freshness and beauty, remember to employ these basic Floralife® flower care tips for proper sanitation, hydration and nutrition. Want more information? Visit Food for Thought on floralife.com or download Floralife’s 5 steps of Fresh chart with tips for keeping flowers fresh. Long-lasting flowers encourage customer satisfaction and potentially increase repeat sales. What questions do you have about flower care?


basistova.jaroslava@gmail.com, I recently visited your beautiful country Slovakia. I loved it! I hope you saw the recent blog – 9 Tips Learned from European Flower Shop Visits, @ https://oasisfloralproducts.com/european-flower-shop-ideas/ that came from that trip. I would love to hear your comments about Slovakian flowers.

Sharon McGukin December 18, 2019

Thank you for reading our blog and commenting!

When it comes to purchasing fresh flowers, consumers expect their flowers to last an average of 7 to 10 days. If they’re disappointed, they’re hesitant to purchase flowers again.

You are correct – price, selection, and also convenience are immediate concerns once the customer has decided to purchase flowers. You mention quality, which is a factor of longevity.

Unfortunately, the very first step – is getting the consumer to even consider making a purchase (or a repeat purchase) of flowers.

People most often say they don’t buy flowers “because they don’t last”, making flower longevity their number one objection.

Customer satisfaction and repeat sales depend on the fine balance between the consumer’s perceived value in how long the fresh flowers actually last and their investment in the purchase.

Flower longevity is the key.

Sharon McGukin December 18, 2019

Hello. I appreciate this article very much. I am using your products and must say, that they help me a lot to prolong the life of flowers :). Thanks also for the tips, some of them were new for me. Greetings from Slovakia.

basistova.jaroslava@gmail.com December 18, 2019

Thanks for adding your comment! We are excited to hear that you are using Oasis and Floralife products for your flowers fresher in your beautiful country Slovakia. Thank you. Sharon

Sharon McGukin December 18, 2019

Your first statement simply isn’t true. Cost is the number one reason, followed by selection then quality. You’ve tried to write this article with an agnostic view but you’ve interchanged the consumer and the reseller.

crgarnau@gmail.com December 18, 2019

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