I was reading this article on Extending the Life of Cut Flowers and had a couple of questions.

As was also pointed out on How to keep my roses fresh?, you should cut the stems at an angle under running water to prevent air from getting in the stem. Alternatively, some sites actually suggest cutting them under water.

Q1: Isn't the stem exposed to oxygen when transferring it from the running water to the vase? Are you supposed to mitigate this somehow?

Also, the article lists some additives to help extend flower life.
Here's a recipe to add to the water in your vase:

  • 1 tsp. Sugar - Feeds the plant which helps buds open and last longer
  • 1/4 tsp. Bleach - Reduces growth of Bacteria and Fungi
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice - Adds acidity which improves water flow to the stems

Q2: Using this recipe, can I premix a whole bottle and then add it as needed, or will the ingredients neutralize themselves over time?
Q3: Should this be done in conjunction with replacing the water every couple days? If so, should each fresh batch of water get it's own plant food cocktail?

1 Answer 1


It has been awhile but I used to be a floral shop manager for a large grocery store chain. My suppliers told me not to use those little 'packets' that always come with fresh cut flowers. I did some experiments and flowers lasted longer in just plain, cold water.

As soon as you cut the stems of roses (under water is best) the vascular system has begun pulling water into the plant instead of air. The reason you cut at all is to open the stem again as it has sealed since being cut at the floral shop. If you don't do it under water the plant will fill with air...for roses that air bubble will stop the capillary action of the water as it gets near the head of the rose and the vascular system narrows. As you take your newly cut rose out of the water it has already filled with water instead of air. Sure a little air can get in as you transfer the stem from cutting water to vase water but the bolus of water that got in keeps the water moving upward. It is that big air bubble that gets into the vascular system as you cut it out of water that causes rose heads to droop over. No more water can now reach the rose and you might as well just dry them. Most other flowers had no problem being cut or trimmed out of water. There were a couple of other flowers I found needed to be cut under water as well but I don't remember at the moment.

For woody stems I just took a hammer and mashed the end of the stem (about 1-2"), swished it in water to wash off the mushy debris and put it in my arrangement. I'm just adding that because most people didn't know how to keep their 'filler' alive and most 'filler' material has woody stems.

I change the water in my flowers everyday and give them a trim. Remove all leaves from the stems before you put in water...Cut flowers can last weeks!

  • 1
    I agree with "mashing" woody stems. I usually put hormone rooting powder in all my cut flowers, and sometimes this makes them stay alive longer trying to grow roots. Sometimes (like with roses) they'll actually take.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 18:38
  • Now there is an idea!! Ha! That would certainly extend their lives...that makes sense! Why didn't I think of that? I'll try it...is powder better than the liquid?
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 18:41
  • I've never used the liquid.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 18:43
  • Of course, you have to put in more every time you change the water.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 18:44
  • My hubby bought me liquid. It was all that was available at the time. It is very viscous, dark purple and I haven't seen great results with it, yet. I tried some of those little blocks that look like insulation. No instructions of any depth came with these blocks...After growing a few starts, I just popped them into 3" pots and filled with soil. Too weird. I know, off topic, grin!
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 20:39

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