How Long Can a Bouquet of Flowers Go Without Water?

Cut flowers add a cheery touch to a coffee table or entryway. If you have a blooming garden of your own, you may even cut your own bouquets. This is a great way to constantly freshen up your home, and they make great gifts for friends!

If you’re sending a bouquet as a gift, there will usually be a short period of time when the flowers are without water. Most plants can survive short stints without water just fine. Others will begin to wilt within the hour.

So how long can flowers go without water? It all depends on the species. A bouquet of delicate flowers like poppies will begin to wilt after an hour without water, but hardier flowers like roses can last up to eight hours without water.

Let’s dive deeper into which flowers hold up well without water, and which ones don’t. We’ll also look at some tips and tricks to make your bouquets last longer!

How Long Can a Bouquet of Flowers Go Without Water?

The last thing you want is for your bouquet to wilt before it gets to its destination. Especially if the bouquet is for a special event like a wedding.

Most flowers can last about eight hours without water but will begin to wilt after a day. Others will begin to wilt within the hour. Variables such as the type of flower and the temperature will make a difference in how long your bouquet will last.

Type of Flower

Not all flowers are the same! Hardy plants like roses and lilies last much longer out of the water than delicate flowers like poppies. When you’re trying to determine which flower will last longest in a bouquet, the trick is to look for flowers with woody stems or waxy leaves. These tend to be hardy flowers that won’t bend or wilt from a lack of water in their stems. These types of flowers can usually last eight hours or more without water.

Flowers like poppies have thin stems and petals which tend to bend and wilt as soon as they lack water. Tulips are another species whose stems become too weak to support their flowers once they’re cut. This leads to a droopy bouquet, which nobody wants.

Other species like hydrangeas have high water demands because of their numerous flowers. Heat and a lack of water will make hydrangeas shrivel up almost instantly after being cut. Try to avoid using these flowers in a bouquet, especially if the bouquet is traveling without water.


Themometer in greenhouseHeat will unfortunately cause your cut flowers to wilt faster. Colder temperatures on the other hand slow down the aging process of the flower. This is why flower shops often keep their bouquets in a refrigerator.

If you’re cutting your own flowers, it’s best to do so in the morning when temperatures are cooler. Midday heat tends to make the petals and stems weaker.

Keep the flowers in a refrigerator set between 33-40°F (1-4°C). Keep them away from any fruits or vegetables, as they emit ethylene gas which kills cut flowers.

If you’re transporting a bouquet in a car, keep your flowers in a dark spot away from the sun. You can wrap the stems with a damp paper towel to keep them moist and cool.

How Long Can Flowers Last With Water?

As a general rule, cut flowers will last for about five days with water. This is so long as their stems are submerged in water, and they receive proper plant food. Let’s look at the ideal steps to take once you bring home a cut flower bouquet.

1. Put the bouquet in water

This is especially important if your bouquet contains delicate flowers like tulips or irises. So before you do anything, get those stems into a vase with fresh water so they can rehydrate.

2. Trim the stems

Run some cold water from the tap and hold your flower stems underneath. One by one cut the ends of the stems about one inch at an angle. This will help your flowers soak up water.

3. Remove any excess leaves

Leaves around the base of the blooms are perfectly fine. You want to remove the leaves further down on the stem if there are any. Leaves are living organisms that contain bacteria, and when they fall into the water this causes bacteria to spread.

4. Fill your vase with warm water

Your first instinct might be to use cold water, but warm water actually helps the stems soak up water more easily. Florists generally recommend a water temperature between 100-110°F (37-43°C).

5. Mix in plant food

Most of the time a bouquet will come with a package of powdered plant food. This mixture is mostly sugar, and a small amount of bleach and citric acid. You can stir this package into the warm water until it dissolves.

6. Add your flowers

Add your flowers to the vase and enjoy! After following these steps, your bouquet should last for at least five days.

Should You Add Fresh Water to a Flower Bouquet Every Day?

Add Fresh Water to a Flower Bouquet Every DayYou’ll be surprised at how much water a cut flower can drink! A general rule is to top up the water in your vase every day. Bacteria will begin to grow in standing water, so you should change the water every 2-3 days. If your bouquet starts to smell a little “off”, change the water immediately.

How Long Can You Keep a Bouquet in the Fridge?

If you’re keeping a bouquet fresh for a special event, you might need to order it a day or two in advance. But will keeping flowers in the refrigerator that long be harmful?

How long and how well your flowers will hold up in the fridge depends on the type of flowers. In general, flowers will last anywhere from five days to two weeks when kept in the fridge. During this time, don’t forget to top up their water and give them plant food.

Does Sugar Help Flowers Last Longer?

Flowers get their food for energy when the plant performs photosynthesis. This food comes in the form of sugar. Once a flower is cut, it will have fewer leaves and less light available to create food. Adding sugar to your cut flowers helps make up for the lack of photosynthesis.

While the sugar feeds the plant, it also feeds the bacteria. That’s why plant food also contains bleach. Bleach acts as an antibacterial. Without bleach, the bacteria will feed on the nutrients at the stems of the flowers, clogging them and blocking water from getting in. This is a common reason why bouquets begin to wilt.

How Do You Keep a Bouquet Alive Without a Vase?

If you don’t own a vase, there are plenty of other household objects that will serve the same purpose. A large mason jar is a great solution that works like a vase and provides a rustic aesthetic. A pitcher jug or any other similar vessel will work as well.

You can also use floral foam! Floral foam can be bought at almost any garden center or department store. To use, simply soak the foam in water, then stick each flower stem into the foam. The foam holds the flowers upright and hydrates them without the need for a vase.

This gives you more versatility in displaying your flowers. This works especially well for table centerpieces. Instead of having all the flowers bunched up in a vase, you can arrange them individually just how you like.

Do Dried Bouquets Last Forever?

Dried bouquets are an excellent way to extend the enjoyment of your flowers. This practice is especially popular for wedding bouquets. Dried bouquets are typically made by hanging the flowers by their stems in a cool dark place until they have dried out. Since there is no moisture anymore, it won’t rot!

Dried flower bouquets typically last for about a year. Make sure to keep them away from sunlight so they retain their color. They’re best stored in a vase, away from any moisture (so no bathrooms or kitchens).

You can also dry bouquets by pressing them. This is much more time-consuming and tedious, but pressed flowers can last almost indefinitely if stored properly. They make wonderful additions to a scrapbook, or you can frame them for your wall.


The fleeting beauty of a cut flower bouquet is ultimately part of its charm. A colorful bouquet makes a timeless gift and is a great way to bring the beauty of nature indoors.

If the goal is longevity, it’s important to choose flowers that are hardy like roses and lilies. Generally, hardy flowers such as these can last around eight hours without water. Avoid delicate flowers like poppies, which typically begin to wilt within an hour of being cut.

To make your cut flowers last longer, make sure you keep them out of the heat. For best results, refrigerate your flowers once they’re cut, and keep them refrigerated until they’re ready for display.