How Much Water Should You Put in a Flower Vase?

  • By: SFUAA
  • Date: May 22, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

If you want to save money and prolong the life of your flowers, understanding how much water to add to your vase (and what to add to the water) is very important.

Cut flowers basically start declining from the moment you cut them, and keeping them in the right amount of water is key to slowing their decline and keeping them looking nice as long as possible.

Fresh Cut Flowers in a Vase | Photo 28274548 © Jruffa |

How Much Water Should You Put in a Vase?

When filling a vase with water for cut flowers that have woody stems, fill the vase about 3/4 of the way with cool water.

You can identify flowers with woody stems just by looking at them (i.e. hard, brown stems), usually, but here are a few examples:

  • Azaleas
  • Lilac
  • Mums
  • Roses

For softer stemmed cut flower varieties, you can get away with filling up the vase only half way with water. Here are some example of soft stemmed cut flowers:

  • Tulips
  • Iris
  • Anemone
  • Freesia

If you have a mix of soft and woody stemmed flowers, fill the vase up 3/4 the way with water.

You’ll also want to change the water regularly.

This is important.

A flower vase can last anywhere from 3 to 5 days if you just stick them in water and ignore them, but they can last longer (up to 3 weeks) when they have clean water and are properly cared for. Try to change their water every 1-3 days.

You can also improve how long your flowers live by preparing them properly before putting them in the vase.

Preparing Flowers to Put in the Vase

There are a few things you can do to make your flowers last as long as possible.

Cutting the Stems

For soft stemmed flowers, cut stems should be cut at a 45-degree angle so that the bottom of the flower vase doesn’t rest on them. This will also increase the surface area of the stem in the vase, allowing it to absorb more water. Remove foliage that sits below the water line.

If your flowers have woody stems, you’ll want to split them instead of trimming them at an angle.

Check with your florist if you have any flowers in your bouquet that have sap in their stems, as they need to be singed before they’re cut to prevent the sap from leaking.

The bottoms of the stems should be cut when first brought home. Stems will seal off after a while, making them less able to take up water. Cutting them will restore their ability to take up water.

Delaying placing the flowers in the vase after cutting them will inhibit their ability to hydrate, so you want to do it right before you put them in the vase.

Keeping Them Cold

Other factors to consider include temperature. The flowers will die sooner if the temperature is too hot, and the flowers may become soggy or slimy and wilt.

Keeping them in the fridge until you’re ready to deal with them is ideal. In fact, keeping them in the fridge overnight is a great way to keep your flowers fresh longer.

Feeding Them

Adding a little flower food will also help prolong the life of your flowers. Some flower food products contain sugar to feed your flowers, acids to maintain the pH level of the water, and bleach to prevent bacteria and fungus.

If you’re unsure what flower food to use, ask the florist what recommend.

If you want to try your hand at making your own, you can add a teaspoon of water, a few drops of vodka or bleach, and two teaspoons of lemon juice.

Using this in combination with keeping them in the fridge overnight can really extend the lifespan of your flowers. Properly cared for, flowers can last 2-3 weeks before they start to wilt.

Maintaining Water in Your Flower Vase

Keeping flowers healthy requires a careful approach. You don’t just put water in once and walk away.

Make sure the water is clean and sterile by replacing it every 1-3 days, depending on whether you’re using additives in the water, using the fridge method, and how the water is looking.

Every time you replace the water, you should re-cut your flowers’ stems. Also, you should trim off any leaves that are wilting. If a flower is starting to wilt entirely, remove it from the vase and discard it to prevent the other flowers from starting to wilt faster.

This is important, as wilting foliage and flowers can release a gas that causes everything else to wilt. This is the same reason why you can ripen fruit faster by putting it in a paper bag with an overripe banana.

It is also crucial to remove any debris or floating foliage in the water. Wash your vase out as necessary to keep it clean and reduce bacteria’s ability to grow in it and harm your flowers.


Generally speaking, you should fill your flower vase up 3/4 the way with fresh, cold water. This will keep your flowers well hydrated and help them stay fresh and perky as long as possible.

Changing the water will also help keep them from wilting by removing bacteria growing in the water. It’s important to dump the old water and clean the vase – don’t just top off the water.

Feeding your flowers and keeping them in the fridge when you’re not looking at them will also help extend their lifespan as long as possible.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to enjoy your flowers as long as possible.

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