Florist Emily Bradbury has been in the industry for 13 years, so she knows a thing or two about prolonging the life of fresh-cut flowers. Her Melbourne floristry North St Botanical specialises in unconventional arrangements that showcase the textural and structural qualities of native foliage, flowers, pods and berries. Here she shares her best tips for keeping your cut blooms fresher, for longer.

Pick seasonal and local blooms, rather than imported. Your florist should be able to tell you which is which. For flowers such as tulips, buying them while they’re still green is key to getting more life out of them. “It’s a bit unnerving buying something prior to colour, but they will colour up eventually,” Bradbury says.

Always check the stems and ensure they’re freshly cut. If not, it means the flowers have been sitting around for a while. “If you go to a busy florist, the turnover rate is pretty good.”

Cut the stems of woody flowers (such as blossoms and foliage) on an angle, so that when they touch the bottom of the vase there’s still plenty of surface area exposed to water. You can even split the stems to increase their surface area – “Because it’s wood, it doesn’t drink as easily as a porous-stem flower, like a daffodil.”

“Don’t use sugar. Don’t use bleach. Don’t use aspirin – none of that is in nature.” To lengthen your vase life, change the water every two to three days and recut the stems on an angle. Keep the flowers in a cool place, away from heaters and fireplaces.

When arranging blooms, don’t mix members of the narcissus family (such as daffodils and jonquils) with other species. “They excrete a sap that’s really bad for the other flowers.”


When choosing a vase, Bradbury suggests something that tapers in at the top. “If you buy a vase with a really wide mouth, you’re going to have to spend more on flowers … to fill it,” she says. For hydrangeas, fill water to the top. Tulips prefer less water.

This story originally appeared in Melbourne print issue 23 and Sydney print issue 15.