6 Tips for Longer Lasting Flower Arrangements

Do you wish that your flower arrangements would last longer? Last week, as I went through my usual routine to prepare flowers for a pretty arrangement, I relied on the lessons I learned years ago when I took a flower arranging course from a local florist. So I thought I’d share what I learned with you ~ because everyone should have flowers in their life and these 6 tips for longer lasting flower arrangements will ensure you can enjoy your flowers more.

Wow, all last week was rain, rain, and more rain. And cloudy skies. You know what that does to your mood and spirit. You just feel kind of blah. Your shoulders droop. You’re tired and want to just curl up under the covers. Even your dog doesn’t want to go outside! But one thing that can lift your spirits and give you a jolt of joy are flowers.

We don’t have any flowers in the garden right now except pansies and purple kale and you can’t bring them inside ~ and it’s not like you can go outside and pick flowers anyway. So to bring the beauty of the garden inside, we rely on our grocery store or favorite florist as our source. That’s what I try to do every week.

I like to think of flowers as nature’s accessories for our homes. Thank goodness that we can buy beautiful flowers at a reasonable price at the grocery store these days. Even Sam’s and Target carry flowers. You probably know that you just can’t pick out a bunch of flowers, bring them home and stick them in a vase without preparing the flowers first. I’ve always followed these 6 tips for longer lasting flower arrangements from the course that I took and I know that they will ensure your flowers last longer and look prettier.

6 Steps for Longer Lasting Flower Arrangements

So many varieties of flowers are offered at the grocery store that it’s hard to choose. I tend to stick with roses, tulips, and hydrangeas because they seem to be the hardiest ~ if you take care of them. I love gerber daisies, but unless they come in the plastic tube, they are a little delicate and tend to droop. Because we’ve had so many cloudy days, I wanted the closest thing to the sun and selected 2 bunches of  bright yellow roses and added 1 bunch of yellow and pink tulips. But regardless of the type of flower, following these tips to prepare your flowers should result in several extra days of flower enjoyment.

yellow roses and pink tulips

Preparing Flowers ~ Tip 1

Regardless of the type of flower, the first step to prepare flowers is as soon as you bring your flowers home, cut off about 1/2 inch of the ends of the stems. You are trying to give the flowers a fresh cut so they can start absorbing water again. I leave the rubber band on the stems for now ~ it just makes working with the flowers easier.

yellow roses

Use a very sharp pair of flower shears, not your kitchen scissors. A dull blade can crush or tear the stems. I can’t tell you how many times I crushed the stems of flowers because my shears were dull. Last year, I realized that my shears are due for a good sharpening. These are the same shears I use outside for trimming small plants and herbs.

You can see here how ragged the ends of the stems are ~ they look more chewed that cleanly cut.

cutting tulip stems

Several months ago, I purchased new shears and I use then only for flowers. In fact, I keep them inside the house in a kitchen drawer. The old shears are just for outdoors. This has made my flower arranging so much better. The cuts are sharper, cleaner, and I’m not crushing the stems. If you need new sharp flower shears, you might try this option. (affiliate link). There are many choices.

cutting tulip stems

Preparing Your Flowers ~ Tip 2

Next, place your flowers in a container with a few inches of cool tap water ~ not cold, not warm. That’s one of the most important points I learned in the class I took. You can let the flower stems sit in the water for several hours or even overnight. This step allows time for the flowers to absorb water which will open the flowers to more fullness and make for a prettier arrangement.

tulips in water

Preparing Flowers ~ Tip 3

You probably have a vase in mind for your flowers. I chose a fairly large, jug~shaped vase that I bought at a flea market a few years ago. If you are using the flower food that comes with it, place it and cool water into the vase. Now let’s start preparing the flowers to go in the vase. Again, using your sharp shears, cut each stem on the diagonal at the point you think is the right height for your vase. I cut each stem one at a time and try it in my vase. Then I can adjust the height if necessary.

rose stems

TIP: I try to cut my stems longer than I think I need, place them in the vase and then cut them shorter if needed.

TIP: If I am not making a tape grid on my vase, I usually start with shorter stems for the outer edge of the arrangement, then I cut longer stems as I go toward the center.

Preparing Flowers ~ Tip 4

After you cut each stem and have the right height, you gently want to remove any leaves, especially ones that would be below the waterline in your vase. Leaves “contaminate” the water and will decrease the life of your flower arrangement. Depending on the type of flower, you may want to retain some leaves near the flower for greenery. Tulips are more fragile than roses so be careful pulling back and leaves.

preparing yellow roses

Preparing Roses ~ Tip 5

For roses, you want to check the petals. If the outer petals have any spots or they are curling, you want to gently pull them off. I’ve watched the pros do this many times (Just stand at the flower section of the grocery store and watch the florists for a few minutes.); it will seem like a lot of waste, but your roses will look so much prettier and your arrangement will look so much fresher. As the days pass, keep your eyes out for any petals that start showing signs of “age” and pull those off.

Here’s the rose as it came fro the tore.

yellow roses

Removing the outer petals.

preparing yellow roses

This looks so much better.

preparing yellow roses

You may feel like you have so much waste, but your flower arrangement will look so much better and more professional if you follow this tip.

preparing yellow roses

Preparing Tulips ~ Tip 6

I used a complimentary color of tulips for my yellow roses. The tulips would be like a garnish for the roses ~ add a bit of color, shape and texture contrast. Again, cut the stems on the diagonal.

cutting tulip stems

The stems of tulips are delicate so gently remove the leaves by pulling them back from the stem. I left a bit of leaf showing at the top near the tulip, but the stem was clean at the bottom. Because I wanted the tulips to stand out from the roses, I left the stems as long as I could.

preparing tulips

Recap the 6 Tips to Longer Lasting Flowers

  • use very sharp shears
  • remove 1/2 inch of stem from the bottom of the flowers
  • place in a container of cool water until you are ready to prepare flowers
  • remove any rose leaves that will be below water level
  • remove any rose petals that are curled or brown
  • remove green leaves from tulips

2 More Tips ~ change water out every 2 ~ 3 days. It is also best for cut flowers not to be in direct sunlight.

After I prepared each tulip, I added them to the roses. As I added more tulips, I spaced them randomly for a natural look.

yellow roses and pink tulips

After your arrangement is complete, you do want to check it every couple of days for the water level and add fresh water. This will really increase the longevity of your flowers.

I first placed my roses and tulips on our breakfast room table, but they were getting a little too much sun. Then I moved them to the living room coffee table for a more centralized location. I was afraid that when the sun came out, it would be too bright with the sun coming in the window directly on the flowers.

yellow roses and pink tulips in a white vase

The next day, both the roses and the tulips opened up when the sun came out (finally!!) in the afternoon. I think they were happy too.

pink tulips opening

I even tried a flower flatlay.

flower flatlay

If you need a few ways to have longer-lasting flowers arrangements from your store~bought purchases, I hope these tips helped you. Enjoy the flowers ~ whether it’s cloudy or sunny outside.

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  1. Great timing for me since I am doing a little flower arrangement today. I love your combination of tulips and roses. Happy Weekend, Kippi

  2. Carol, I just wanted you to know that I’ve chosen you as one of our features this week on Share Your Style. Congratulations!

  3. What great advice! I’m a huge fresh flower fan and love to arrange them,too.Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm! xo Kathleen|Our Hopeful Home

    1. Thank You, Kathleen. Love having fresh flowers in the house. And if not fresh, the faux flowers these days are so beautifully made.

  4. This is very helpful and I will refer to it every time I buy fresh flowers. Thank you for sharing with us this week at Celebrate Your Story and we hope you will join us again next week.

  5. I think my spirits were raised just by looking at your flowers! Thank you for the tutorial! Have had faux daffodils on the coffee table since before Val Day! Winter in Maine is just TOO long! Old arrangement on the TV needs to go, I put a rose wreathe on a door…even fake ones raise my spirits. Brought an old arrangement (newly washed) to a group last night for a raffle; woman who won it was delighted! Bright pink (almost stargazer) lilies in the bedroom add a touch of color, too!

    1. Oh, Kathy, thank you so much. You made my day! And it’s been pouring again for 2 days. Great to pass on the flowers to a friend. Thanks so much for visiting Bluesky at Home.

  6. Great lesson! I’m buying more and more bought flowers as spring seems so far off here in the Midwest. This is a wonderful color combo! Thanks a bunch!!!


  7. So pretty, Carol. Love the combination of tulips and roses. A breath of springtime is welcome. Great tips.
    Driving home today and water is high through Louisiana and
    Mississippi from all the rain. The system is ahead of us so we’ll have rain in Alabama. Glad we at least saw the sun while driving earlier.

  8. Hi Carol Great tips! And, I learned a few things! Perfect timing as we head into spring! Happy Monday! Can you believe it’s almost March? yikes! laura

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