Cut flowers

Proper care of cut flowers can extend their life. Even if you buy pre-arranged bouquets, you will need to re-cut the flower stems to prolong their freshness. Cutting stems underwater can prevent air bubbles and help the flowers to absorb more moisture.

How to Cut Your Flower Stems

Knowing how to cut flowers properly may extend the life of your blossoms by as much as 18 to 32 percent, according to John W. Kelley of the Clemson University Department of Horticulture. Fill a basin or clean sink with lukewarm water. Place the flower stems into the water, and cut each stem at a sharp angle using shears or kitchen scissors, 1-inch to 2-inches from the cut end. As an alternative, you can leave a steady stream of water running from your sink, and hold the stems underneath the water as you cut them.

The Benefits of Cutting Underwater

When the flower stem is cut, the flower’s access to water from the root system ceases immediately. Air may be drawn into the stem, creating a pocket of air or an embolism that prevents water absorption. Flowers are shipped dry, and if the stem is not cut again, they may not be able to rehydrate adequately once arranged. Cutting the flower underwater enables the flower to absorb water and removes the risk of another embolism.

When to Cut and Re-Cut

Cut flowers should be re-cut as soon as possible after they are picked, bought or delivered. If you purchase simple bouquets, re-cut before placing them into a vase. Gently remove arranged flowers from the vase, and place the entire bouquet into the basin to clip stems without losing the beauty of your arrangement. Re-cut your stems every third day, changing the water in the vase when you do so.


Hardening after you cut the flower stems underwater can maximize the flower’s ability to absorb water. Place the cut stems into a vase of hot water, around 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Store the cut flowers in a cool place for an hour or two. If you opt to store the flowers in the refrigerator, make sure that there are no apples present. Apples produce ethylene gas, a chemical which shortens the life of flowers.