Flowers easily brighten up my house, and my mood. It’s why they are a great addition to any room. But I tend to think of them as a treat, rather than a standard, because of their short life span. My cats think of them as a treat as well and more than once my carnations have become catnip. So when I do treat myself to flowers (or someone treats me… thanks Chad) I use a few tips and tricks to make them last as long as possible. These tips take a little effort but really work. Using them helps me get the full value out of my flowers and ensures those beautiful buds last for as long as possible. Extending their life span makes buying flowers that much more worth it. So here are my tips to be a bud to your bulbs.

Prep That Vase

The first step is to rinse your vase with a little vinegar to make sure it is bacteria free. Flowers will do better with clean water, free of dust or soap residue. Fill your vase with filtered water. Luke warm water works best (except for hyacinths and tulips, they need cold water) as warm water moves quicker and can be absorbed by flowers more easily.

Add flower food. Store bought flowers usually come with some flower food, one packet which is good for the first day. To really feed those plants you should add a bit more food every other day (or whenever the water needs changing). There are so many easy recipes for plant food. Here are my favorites:

Recipe One:

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon sugar (if you have corn syrup that’s even better)

Recipe Two:

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Lime Soda (such as Sprite or 7 Up)

The soda is pretty funny, but effective – you need to give the flowers sugar as well as acid, and soda has both! Lots of recipes call for bleach, but it’s not something I tend to have at home because I don’t use it for cleaning, and I have found vinegar works just as well.

Perfect Those Flowers.

Start by cutting the stems. When flowers are out of water, even for a minute, the ends of their stems dry up. Cutting them will help the flowers soak up fresh water as fast as possible.

When cutting, try to go for about one inch up from the bottom of the stem. Cut at a 45-degree angle because it will provide a large surface area, making it easier for plant to soak up water. It’s all about flower hydration. If you are cutting flowers from your own garden (lucky duck) cut them in the morning. The morning is when flowers are most hydrated. Don’t forget to bring your well-prepared vase with you so you can put the stems into water as fast as possible.

Arrange the flowers in the vase however you like, but try not to over crowd it. You may sacrifice a few buds, but the rest will thank you when they have room to bloom. Cut away any low leaves that are squished in the vase, especially any touching the water. They can cause mold to grow. Once you are happy with your arrangement, you are ready to place your flowers.

Pick Prime Placement

When placing your flowers there are a couple things to note beyond what spot looks best.

Try to avoid placing your flowers in direct sunlight. This seems odd, because we are naturally inclined to think plants want sun. But when it comes to cut flowers direct sunlight will cause the water in their petals to evaporate faster and they will wilt more quickly. In fact, fresh cut flowers do better in the fridge! If you have the patience and the room, put your flowers in the fridge overnight to have them fresh and bright every morning. In general, the cooler and darker the spot you place them in, the longer they will last.

Keep them away from fruit. Funny enough, ripening fruit lets off ethylene gas, which causes flower buds to stay closed, and can affect petal colors. When I want to place flowers on my kitchen counter, I move my fruit bowl to the table, and vice versa.

Protect From Pets

Placement is the most important step in making sure your pets don’t eat your plants. Believe me, I know this is an almost impossible task if you are like me and you have cats that like to eat plants. Once, I placed a planter on my dresser (slightly too low) and Malee hopped up and ate a succulent! She had a big blister on her mouth and didn’t eat for days. So word to the wise, place your flowers where your pets can’t reach. Try to place them on high counters, or even go for hanging planters if your pet is especially spry and keep toxic plants out of the house in general!

One nifty trick is to sprinkle cayenne pepper around the edge of a potted plants soil. This won’t work as well for flowers in vases, but it’s good to keep in mind for more permanent planters.


So you are enjoying your flowers in their perfect spot, out of the way of fruit and cat alike. But you are not quite done. I know it’s easy to forget about plants – I have even killed cactuses – but the most important rule to making sure they last is maintenance.

Change the water every 3 days or when it looks murky. Make sure to add fresh plant food. Be ruthless. Throw away flowers that are wilting faster than others. If you let the weaker flowers go the others will do better. My rule is that every morning, whenever I first walk into a room with a plant in it, I check the water and refresh it right then and there. It’s the first thing I do so that the rest of the day I can just relax and enjoy the flowers.

My final tip is to use hairspray –no joke. If all of your flowers have begun wilting hairspray can help them last a little longer. When you notice petals have begun to curl, stand a foot away and briefly spray the bottom of the petals. It will help keep them firm just like it does for your hair.

Melissa Maker Holding Fresh Flowers


Part of the beauty of flowers is that they don’t last forever. You have to enjoy them while you can. So relish them, press some petals in a book, breath in their scent, and maybe even snap a picture (if you follow me on Instagram, you know I always do).