How to revive flowers in a vase? Luxury florist Ronny Colbie reveals his expert techniques

If a bouquet has started to wilt, don't condemn it: there are easy ways to revive flowers in a vase

Tulips in a vase
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Reviving wilting flowers, even for just another few days, is really worthwhile. Easy to do, there are simple tricks and techniques that professional florists use to work magic.

We asked luxury florist Ronny Colbie for his top tips for keeping flowers fresh in a vase. These are his top five.


Ronnie Colbie
Ronny Colbie

Canadian-born, Ronny started his floristry career working his way up as an events florist for a leading design studio in Downtown Toronto at the age of 17. After making the big move across the pond in 2012, Ronny worked as the Lead Floral Designer for the Soho House Group, creating stunning floral displays for the hotel, as well as wedding and event flowers at Babington House in Somerset and Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire. 

How to revive flowers in a vase?

Ignore the hacks you'll find on the internet: this is what Ronny suggests doing.

1. Clean your vase

‘Bacteria growth in your vase is your flowers' worst nightmare,' says Ronny. 'Germs will cause your flowers to wilt or even die. Unfortunately, you cannot prevent the growth of germs, but it does help to give your vase a good scrub before you place the flowers and when you refresh the water, be sure to rinse out any soap!’

2. Refresh vase water

‘Warm water is the perfect place for bacteria to grow and if your plants or flowers drink dirty water, they will wilt faster,' says Ronny. 'I recommend refreshing your vase water every couple of days, or as soon as you notice the water becoming cloudy or greenish. 

'Remove the flowers from the container, rinse the vase out thoroughly, and then re-fill it with fresh water.’

3. Avoid direct sunlight and heat sources

‘When deciding on the location of your bouquet, avoid direct sunlight as this can evaporate the water in your vase as well as the water in your plants,' advises Ronny. 'It’s a good idea to keep your bouquets or plants somewhere cool like on a coffee or dining table and away from a windowsill to help them reach their full bloom.’

4. Regularly cut stems

‘Water changing days are the perfect time to give your blooms a little attention. Have a very sharp knife handy, dull blades will cause the base of the stem to crease, preventing water and nutrients from reaching the flower,' explains Ronny. 'Hold the stem under running water and cut 1 inch off the bottom, on a diagonal, remove any leaves that might fall below the water line, then put the flowers back into a clean container.’

5. Try the penny trick

‘Leave a copper coin sitting at the base of the container while your flowers are in there and your blooms should stay standing to attention for longer,’ reveals Ronny.

How do you increase flower life in a vase?

Feeding fresh flowers can help keep them alive for longer. Most bouquets are sold with flower feed supplied, but if your florist doesn't include it with your cut flowers – or you're growing cutting garden flowers – you can buy Fresh Cut Flower Food from Amazon.

Does sugar bring flowers back to life?

Adding a teaspoon of sugar to a vase of flowers will work to prolong their life, and can increase the number and size of open flowers, according to research done at the University of Massachusetts. However, this relies on the amounts being right, with somewhere between 0.5-6% of sugar concentration the ideal, depending on the plant. Too much sugar tends to result in damage to the plants.

Lucy Searle
Content Director

Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she also took on the editorship of the magazine. Today, Lucy works as Content Director across Homes & Gardens, Woman & Home, Ideal Home and Real Homes.