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When my garden feels generous, I cut flowers from it and take them inside.

My normal procedure is to cut the branch I want, perhaps trim it further for aesthetics, and then place it in a vase of water. I replace the water when it looks ugly, approximately weekly. When they are no longer attractive, they head to the compost. Sometimes at this point there is obvious gelatinous life living on the submerged part of the branch.

Branches from the same azalea bush can last me anywhere from 1-5 weeks. I have no idea what I'm doing differently for them! The branches in the two pictures were both cut 12 days ago. I think you can see the first one is doing better than the second.

What can I do to keep my cut flowers presentable for longer?

A cut branch from an azalea bush in full bloom in a growler of water

A smaller cut branch from an azalea bush in full bloom in a vase of water

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Cut the stems on an angle, add a little sugar to the water, then change the water every 2 days and recut a millimetre or two off the stems when you do so. Cutting on an angle lets the flowers take up more water, the sugar acts as food, the water changes prevent bacteria and algae from building up in the water, and recutting keeps the exposed stem surface fresh and free of decay and bacteria that might clog it.

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