No green thumb? No problem.

By Betty Gold and Rachel Sylvester
Updated January 19, 2021

Valentine's Day comes with its fair share of boxed chocolates and bouquets, but the unfortunate truth is that neither gift lasts as long as it should. While the lifespan of a heart-shaped box of confections is minimal at best, flower arrangements seem to wilt faster than it takes to consume a dozen bite-sized caramels and conversation hearts. In an effort to extend the life of beloved Valentine's Day blooms—or the bouquet you got just because—we looked to Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers to share her tips for helping flower arrangements live their best life well beyond the holiday.

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1 Trim Stems Daily

According to Stembel, long-lasting flowers begin with healthy stems. Trimming flower stems every day allows blooms to hydrate more efficiently. It’s crucial to cut each stem on an angle to maximize the surface area through which flowers intake water. Also, try to cut your stems under warm (not hot) running water—this ensures that they get hydrated immediately.

2 Replace Water Every Day

Regularly changing an arrangement’s water supply is yet another trick to help keep your flowers looking (and smelling) fresh. “Bacteria build-up is natural as your flowers age,” Stembel says. “Remove sediment by giving your stems a fresh drink, and if you see build-up at the bottom of your vase, give the vessel a quick clean.” So, how much water is sufficient? In general, Stembel recommends filling a vase three-quarters of the way with cool tap water before putting flowers on display, since regularly replacing and replenishing water is essential to beautiful blooms.

3 Keep Away From Direct Light and Heat

As tempting as it is to display your bouquet in front of a window, freshly cut stems are surprisingly light sensitive. Stembel says that flower arrangements should be removed from direct sunlight and sources of heat. It’s also best to avoid high humidity zones, if possible.

4 Pluck Wilted Flowers Out ASAP

Once you notice a cut flower in your arrangement has died, remove it from the bouquet as quickly as possible. Like fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers release ethylene gas, which can be harmful to the longevity of living flowers. To prevent a dying bloom from killing off its neighbors, simply thank it for its service, and pluck it out. 

5 Keep the Flower Food Flowing (or Make Your Own)

Aside from regular trimmings, water changes, strategic countertop placement, and frequent grooming, yet another effective way to keep bouquets fresh includes a few drops of one common household product. “If you’re busy or forgetful, adding a few drops of bleach to a vase will help extend the life of your stems, since it slows the growth of bacteria,” Stembel says. Flower food is equally effective, of course.

Test these tactics out on your bouquet, and prepare yourself for long-lasting blooms.