How to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh this Summer

How to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh this Summer

Fresh cut flowers can really suffer on hot summer days. Here's how you can keep your blooms fresh and happy for longer.

Off the back of a third La Nina event, we're finally starting to see some hotter, sunnier days here in Australia.

But in the midst of a stinking hot summer, even plants and flowers feel the heat. Cut flowers can really suffer on hot days, wilting much faster than normal.

If you’ve received a beautiful fresh flower bouquet this summer and are worried about the blooms wilting prematurely, keep reading to learn how to keep fresh cut flowers alive longer.

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How to keep cut flowers fresh

Put your fresh flowers in water ASAP

Whether you’ve picked up a bunch of fresh flowers from a local market or you’ve been sent a bouquet by surprise (lucky you!), it’s imperative that you put those blooms in water ASAP. 

Although they’ve been cut, flowers are still living things. For this reason, you should never leave your flowers locked in a hot car or in a stuffy room for long periods. 

If the stems are wet-wrapped or delivered in a little bit of water, this can help them last a bit longer outside of a vase. 

But the longer flowers are out of water, the shorter their vase life will be. So get your flowers into a vase with fresh, cool water as soon as you possibly can.

bouquet of fresh flowers in a vase

Place your flowers in a cool location

Placing your flowers in the path of direct sunlight will greatly shorten their vase life. 

To help keep your fresh flowers alive longer in summer, we recommend keeping them in as cool a spot as possible. Avoid window-sills and other areas where they’ll be prone to harsh sun rays.

That said, you should also avoid putting them in places where they’ll be hit by direct drafts from air-conditioners, fans and even open windows. Drafts can cause water to evaporate faster and may even knock delicate petals about, weakening them.

Keep flowers away from ripening fruit and vegetables

Ever wondered why putting an underripe avocado in a paper bag with some ripe bananas helps the avocado soften quicker? It’s due to bananas releasing ethylene gas as they ripen, which in turn has a ripening effect on other fruits, vegetables, plants and vegetables in the vicinity.

Most fruits and veggies release this gas as they ripen, not just bananas. And the gas can and will cause your fresh cut flowers to wilt more quickly. 

So if you’ve got some peaches, apples, mangoes, bananas or other fruits sitting in a fruit bowl beside your beautiful vase of flowers, you should definitely move that vase into a safer location!

Clean the vase water regularly

Cut flowers are a thirsty bunch. Some of the thirstiest blooms of all include dahlias, tulips and lilies. If you want your flowers to last, never let the vase water run out, no matter what time of year it is.

Additionally, if your vase water begins to look cloudy, that indicates the presence of bacteria, which can further shorten the lifespan of your fresh cut flowers. 

Wondering how to keep flower water fresh? There’s no real trick to it. Just be sure to change your vase water every day or two to stop this from happening.

We also recommend mixing a sachet of flower food, if available. Not only will the solution help feed your plants, it should also slow the growth of bacteria.

Trim those stems regularly, too

Each time you change the vase water, you should also remember to give your flowers a little trim off the ends.

As soon as flowers are cut, the water-absorbing structures at the base of their stems will begin to callous over and become clogged. If you don’t re-trim them, the flowers won’t be able to rehydrate, no matter how often you change the vase water.

Cut about two centimetres off the ends of every stem each time. Cutting at an angle will help increase surface area for water absorption, so your blooms can stay happy and hydrated in the summer heat (and at any other time of year). 

If possible, try submerging your stems in water as you snip them. This can help prevent air bubbles from forming, which can also inhibit water absorption.

Refrigerate your flowers when it gets really, really hot

Flowers last a lot longer when kept in cold storage. It’s how some flowers, such as roses, are able to be shipped around the world. 

In the summertime, a florist’s secret weapon is her flower fridge, and a fridge can be your secret weapon, too.

If the mercury is set to climb above 30 degrees, consider popping your blooms in your fridge until the hottest part of the day has passed. 

If in doubt, throw some flowers out (emphasis on some)

Not all flowers have the same vase life; some wilt a lot more quickly than others. When that happens, you might think it’s time to throw the entire bouquet away. But this would be a mistake!

Instead of tossing the whole floral arrangement, simply pull out those flowers that have already wilted and keep the ones that are still beautiful. 

Removing wilted flowers will also reduce bacterial growth, to help the other flowers last even longer.

dahlias in a vase

Which fresh cut flowers have the shortest vase life?

As we mentioned, flowers have different lifespans once cut. No matter how often you trim the stems or change the vase water, whether it’s summer or winter, there are some flowers that simply won’t survive for more than a few days in a vase.

Here are a few popular fresh-cut flowers that have a devastatingly short vase life, according to the Australian Rural Industries essential cut flowers guide by Delwyn Thomas and Bettina Gollnow:

  • Ranunculus - Also called buttercups, these peony-like petals will last up to one week, max 

  • Dahlias - Heroes of the summer and autumn garden, dahlias immediately begin to weaken and wilt once cut. At most, they’ll last up to a week in a vase, but browning will begin much sooner than this

  • Tulips - Did you know tulips will continue to grow once cut and placed in water? While this is certainly fascinating, it doesn’t mean they’ll last forever. Tulips will only last for between 3 and 8 days in a vase

  • Peonies - It tracks that this flower, which has an infamously short flowering season, would also have a very short vase life. Peonies will last for 5 to 7 days in a vase, but you can expect those incredible to start dropping before then

  • Poppies - With their crepe paper-like petals and thin, wiry stems, it makes sense that poppies wouldn’t last a very long time once cut. Sadly, poppies will only last about 3 to 5 days in a vase

  • Cosmoses - Another delicate, dainty bloom, this October birth flower lasts about as long as poppies in a vase, approximately 4 or 5 days

  • Daffodils - When freshly cut, daffodils release a chemical in their sap that poisons other flowers, like tulips and roses, causing them to wilt and die faster. Daffodils will last about 4 to 6 days in a vase once cut. Daffodils are perhaps an exception to the regular trimming rule, as each time you trim their stems, they’ll release more of the flower-poisoning chemical. An option is to keep daffodils in a vase on their own

  • Flowering gum - Australian native flowers are notoriously hardy and are some of the longest-lasting cut flowers you can buy. However, flowering gum is an exception. Stems of flowering gum will last about 5 days in a vase, and they’ll make a big mess throughout that time as they shed

  • Frangipanis - If you’ve ever picked a frangipani off a tree and tucked it behind your ear, you’ll know they don’t last long once removed from the tree. Even when placed in water, these popular summertime flowers will only last about 2 or 3 days once cut

handheld pincushion flowers

What are the longest-lasting cut flowers?

Of course, while there are some flowers that last a mere 3 days in a vase, there are others that can last up to 3 weeks! 

According to the Australian Rural Industries essential cut flowers guide by Delwyn Thomas and Bettina Gollnow, these are a few of the longest-lasting fresh cut flowers:

  • Alstroemeria - Also known as Peruvian lilies, these beautiful blossoms have an impressive vase life of about 21 days

  • Anthurium - While they may look more like leaves, anthuriums are actually a type of flower, and one of the longest-lasting fresh flowers at that. Anthuriums can last between 14 and 20 days once cut and placed in water

  • Banksia - These Australian natives need no introduction. With their tough, woody stems, banksia flowers are incredibly resilient and can last up to 15 days in a vase

  • Pincushions - Belonging the same family as banksias, these South African wildflowers are equally as hardy, lasting up to 18 days in a vase

  • Proteas - Another hardy South African native is the protea, which can last up to 14 days in a vase. After this time, proteas may also be dried so you can enjoy their unique beauty for even longer

  • Carnations - Depending on the cultivar, carnations can last anywhere between 8 and 20 days in a vase

  • Chrysanthemums - There are many different types of chrysanthemums, which can last between 10 and 20 days in a vase once cut

  • Ornamental kale - Yes, it’s cabbage. And yes, it lasts! Kale flowers can last between 10 and 14 days in a vase. Just be wary of the cabbage-like smell

  • Hypericum - They may not be the most beautiful or showy cut flower, but hypericum berries are among the longest-lasting. They can survive between 10 to 14 days in a vase

  • Kangaroo paw - Another long-lasting Australian native is the kangaroo paw. These unique native flowers will last between 10 and 15 days in a vase

  • Lavender - French lavender can last for 10+ days in a vase, while the more fragrant English lavender can last between 10–20 days in a vase. Both varieties can also be dried afterwards for even greater enjoyment

For a more comprehensive list of long-lasting fresh cut flowers, be sure to check out this blog article.

Send Fresh Cut Flowers with Floraly

Whether it’s for a special occasion like a birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, or for no particular occasion at all, we’re here to help you send the most beautiful fresh flowers to your loved ones. 

With express delivery across Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere in Australia, we make it easy to send your favourite fresh flower bouquets, flower jars and dried flowers to those you care about most.

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