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How to Keep Flower Bouquets Fresh

©Marie Stephens 2005

So this was me, back in 2005. My husband Tim and I were cut flower growers for about 7 years, and sold them at the downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. We grew, harvested, designed and delivered fresh bouquets all over southern Iowa and Des Moines for about 7 years! So I guess you could say, we know a thing or two about how to keep bouquets fresh!

Valentines Day has come and gone, but you might still be hanging on to a few fresh flowers from your special someone!  ” What’s the trick to making my fresh flower bouquet last longer?”, is a question I used to get from lots of clients at the Farmers Market, so many years ago.

The Big V-Day Surprise

This surprise, from my Tim, is what got me on the whole subject of keeping your bouquets fresher longer.  He got me something tall, black, sleek and slender and shiny with wheels!  Care to make a guess as to what it is?  He also bought me some fresh flowers that he found on sale at Aldi.  That wasn’t the surprise, but they did need some sprucing up, which led to this article.

So What are You Supposed to Do With Fresh Flowers?

Before You Put the Flowers Into Your Vase

  1. Remove dead leaves
  2. Remove all leaves that will be below the water when you put the flowers in your vase
  3. Wash your vase with soap and water
  4. Put the floral preservative powder in the vase
  5. Add a little warm water in the bottom and swirl to dissolve the powder
  6. Add the rest of the warm water
  7. Cut the stems to the length you prefer UNDER RUNNING WATER
  8. Place freshly cut stems in the vase!

Flowers can now be purchased and shipped directly to you from flower farms all over the country!  If you order flowers in this way, it is very important that you cut at least 1 or 2 inches from the stems under running water prior to arranging them.   This will allow them to more quickly absorb water and last longer in the vase

Throughout the Week

  1. Make sure no leaves are in the water (doing this will prevent that stinky sewer smell, which is a result of decaying leaves)
  2. rinse out the vase to remove dead debris(prevents bacterial growth)
  3. Change the water once every 2 or 3 days (prevents bacterial growth that can clog up stems and prevent them from being able to absorb water)
  4. Re-cut the stems under running water once every 2 or 3 days so your stems can more easily slurp up water to stay hydrated and fresh)
  5. Trim away dead flowers and buds
  6. remove yellowing leaves
  7. Make it a goal to throw out before the water gets stinky, and it will make it easier for others to buy flowers for you!  It’s ok to let them go!  I have a hard time letting my cut flowers go too.  But over the years, I am getting better.  If there are still one or 2 good flowers left, I will cut them from the bouquet, throw the rest out, and put the short stemmed survivors in a shot glass or a bud vase.


  • Some flowers just have shorter vase life than others, so it’s ok to throw them out before the rest (roses do not last nearly as long as carnations)
  • Some flowers can last up to a month in the vase!
  • Keep flowers away from fresh fruit to help them last longer(fruit releases ethylene gas as it ripens, which makes flowers ripen or age more quickly)
  • keeping your bouquet out of direct sunlight will increase vase life
  • keeping your bouquet in a cool spot in your house will increase vase life
  • keeping your bouquet away from heat sources will increase vase life

So What was my Big Surprise?

Something every flower loving girl needs!  A new bouquet rack on wheels!  It holds 6 french style black flower buckets, and can be easily set up anywhere.  It’s something I always wished we had when we sold flowers at the farmers market, but they were so expensive!  We were driving home from church a few weeks ago, and I saw the rack at the resale shop on the way home from church!  I was joking around about buying it, as we drove by.  I never did because I thought Tim would blow a gasket for sure, if I came home with something like that!  To say that I was surprised he bought it is quite an understatement!


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