Make the cut: How to properly transport cut flowers from your garden indoors Home & Garden

For best results, prune your flowers in the morning.

Tulsa World file

Spring is in full bloom, which means it’s time to cut a few select flowers and bring them indoors.

Whether you’re creating a floral arrangement to give to a friend or making a display for your kitchen counter, it helps to know the best methods for cutting these blooms.


Once you’ve cut your flowers, keep them in a bright, cool place, out of direct sunlight.

Grace Wood, Tulsa World

David Hillock, consumer horticulture instructor at Oklahoma State University, has some tips and tricks for getting the most out of your trimmed spring blooms.

“The satisfaction of growing those flowers, knowing how they were treated, and now you can enjoy them in your home — that’s a huge benefit in cutting your flowers,” Hillock said.

White Peony

Wait until colored buds appear before pruning your peonies.

Courtesy Tom Ingram

When should I cut?

It’s optimal to prune buds in the morning rather than in the afternoon, since most plants have a higher water content in the morning, Hillock said.

“Morning is the best time to prune your plants because the temperatures are cooler, which means the plants are less stressed,” Hillock said. “When a plant is stressed by the heat, it sweats profusely and the plant itself can even be hot, which can mean it doesn’t last as long. Harvesting it when it’s not stressed from heat and water loss can help keep the flower a little longer.”

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spring flowers

Once you’ve cut your flowers, adding sugar to their vase water will help extend their life.

Tulsa World file

Which tools should I use?

Anything you use to cut and store your buds should be washed thoroughly. Hillock recommends using clean scissors if the bud has a particularly thin stem. Otherwise, opt for hand shears.

“One problem people have is not using clean, sterile materials,” Hillock said. “If you’re using a vase that you’ve had for a while, make sure it’s clean and free of bacteria or algae. You also want to make sure your clippers are nice and clean before bringing plants in.”

It’s important that your tool is extra sharp so that a precise cut can be made, Hillock said.

“You really want to get a good, clean cut,” Hillock said. “If not, you could crush the bottom of the stem, which can impede water movement up the bud.”

rose care

For red and pink roses, wait until the first two petals have unfurled and the calyx is bowing down, past a horizontal position, to harvest.

Tulsa World file

Is my flower ready to cut?

When in the life of a flower you should make the cut is different for each plant. As a general rule, wait until the plant is just beginning to flower or shortly after flowering. A plant that’s been open for several days won’t last very long indoors, Hillock said.

For leeks, you should wait until a third to a quarter of the flowers have opened to cut them, according to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. For red and pink roses, however, wait until the first two petals have unfurled and the calyx is bending downward, past a horizontal position, to harvest. On the other hand, for lilies, irises, irises and peonies, wait until colored buds appear before pruning.

When you’re cutting flowers in your yard, it helps to have a bucket of water to place your freshly cut flowers in, Hillock said.


Place the flowers in a bucket of warm water while you walk around the garden cutting flowers.

Courtesy, Barry Fugatt

How do I avoid pests?

When it comes to avoiding common plant-loving pests like ants, aphids and spider mites, you should do a thorough inspection of your plants before you bring them indoors, Hillock said.

“Inspect your flowers well before you bring them in,” Hillock said. “You should inspect them regularly if you know you plan on bringing them indoors one day. If you find any pests, treat them with the right insecticide several days in advance before bringing them indoors.”

To be extra safe, you can leave your cut flowers outside in a bucket of water in a shady spot for a few hours before bringing them into your home. According to interior design company Houzz, this can also help repel insects.


When harvesting roses, make sure your tools are as clean and sharp as possible.

Stephen Pingry, Tulsa World File

I brought in the flowers. What now?

Once your cut buds are indoors, you’ll need to cut the stems a second time. The reason for this is that when the flower was harvested, air bubbles may have entered the stem, making it difficult for the flowers to absorb water. Alleviate the blisters by cutting the stems about an inch underwater, according to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

Once the stems are cut for the second time, it’s best to place your flowers in warm or room temperature water, Hillock said.

“I encourage people to fill their vases with warm water,” Hillock said. “Warmer water can help the plant absorb more nutrients, especially if you use a preservative.”

Put your vase in a cool, bright spot and avoid direct sunlight through a window, Hillock said.


Daffodils are just one of many different types of flowers that are in full bloom this spring.

Courtesy, Bill Sevier

How do I properly nourish my flowers?

Adding sugar to your plant’s water will help increase its longevity, Hillock said. For best results, add sugar to a commercial flower preservative to keep your flowers looking bright and healthy for longer.

“A lot of people think that adding aspirin to your plant’s water will keep it alive longer, but as far as I know, that’s just an old wives’ tale,” Hillock said. “Sugar really is one of the best things to use.”

Her flowers need new water every few days, Hillock said.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make is not changing the water often enough,” Hillock said. “You don’t want the plant to dry out completely, so be sure to top up the water regularly to avoid possible diseases and to keep fresh water flowing into the plant.”

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