Blooming Beauties: Make the Most of Your Spring Harvest

Spring is upon us and some days may feel a bit more Summery than Springy. This means soooo many flowers are starting to bloom and if you’re anything like me, you want to cut them all and fill your whole house with them!

Well, I’ve got some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your beautiful harvests.

Generally, the best practice to ensure your blooms last as long as possible in a vase involves making sure the vessel they are in is squeaky clean, the water is changed regularly, and the stems are trimmed regularly too.

Think of flower stems like straws. When a straw gets clogged, it can’t suck up any more water. Bacteria present in the water will clog up the stems so the blooms can no longer receive water, meaning they will fade faster.

By changing out the water every other day or so and trimming an inch off the bottom of the stem, you are clearing out the bacteria in the water as well as removing the part of the stem/straw that is starting to clog.

There are additives you can mix into the water to help slow the bacterial growth and feed the blooms (usually some form of sugar) so they live and stay vibrant longer, but I tend to not find them necessary. Keep them in a cool, dark place and using all the techniques above should help them last for at least a week. 

The time of day you harvest will also impact vase life. It is best to harvest either first thing in the morning or in the evening, the coolest parts of the day. Harvesting in the hottest part of the day will encourage your blooms to wilt which they can (sometimes) recover from if they are cooled down rapidly in a refrigerator. Sticking with the coolest parts of the day is your best bet since they are better hydrated already and not experiencing any heat stress they will need to recover from.

Another really important part of ensuring a long vase life is harvesting your flowers at the correct stage. It can be tempting to cut your blooms at their peak when they look the most beautiful, but in reality that means they will not last very long.

Instead, harvesting early before they reach their peak will allow them to slowly open in the vase, giving you the joy of watching them transform as well as more time to enjoy them.


This single variety is showing multiple harvest stages. The one for the longest bloom time is the tight bud in the center that is still slightly green but with a distinct pink hue. That one will last close to two weeks in a vase while the more open ones will last closer to a week.

The correct stage of harvest, single tulips (tulips that only have a single layer of petals) are best harvested when the bud is still tightly closed and only just starting to change color. Doubles, depending on the variety, can be harvested around the same stage as singles.

The majority though benefit from more time to ripen before harvesting. I like to wait until the bud has fully colored up and is starting to open. I’ve found some really full peony-type doubles do best when allowed to open almost halfway before harvesting and they will last about a week and a half in a vase that way. Experiment and take notes to see what works for what varieties and forms!

Heirloom scented narcissus aka daffodils

This is the tight bud stage of harvest for daffodils. This stage will minimize damage to the bloom during transport, and ensure the colors stay the most vibrant while in the vase.

The stage of harvest for these can actually vary depending on your personal preference. When the buds start to color up and the first petal begins to peel back is when you can harvest for that beautiful transformative experience of watching it open and come to life inside. I have also found, especially for the doubles, that waiting until they are a bit more open provides just as long a vase life too.

An important note about these beauties though is that if you plan on mixing them with other flowers in the vase, make sure that when you cut the stems you let them sit in their own water for several hours. They actually seep a sap that will kill off all of the other flowers around it. If you let it sit in its own water for a while, the stem will eventually scab over and the sap will no longer seep.

You can test it by pulling the stems out of the water and taking a look at the cut end of the stem. If the water drips off normally, you are ready to add them in with the other blooms. If clear goop that has the same viscosity as snot drips off the end then they still need more time. 

Hardy annuals

The correct stage of harvest for a snapdragon and other spire flowers where the bottom quarter blooms are open/opening and the top are closed.

There are so many magnificent hardy annuals in the spring to enjoy out in the garden and in vases in the house.

The most common hardy annuals are spire types: Larkspur, snapdragons, delphinium, foxglove, campanula, and more. These lovelies are all harvested around the same time in development which is when just the first flowers on the bottom of the spike are beginning to open, about a quarter of the total blooms on the stem. If the blooms get pollinated, they will actually fall off, so harvesting early will help prevent that. The rest of the blooms will open in the vase. 

Woody perennials

The trick for ensuring woody perennials get adequate hydration is to only cut sturdy stems, avoiding all the bright green new growth, as well as increasing the amount of surface area at the base of the stem for better water uptake.

There are two different ways to do this. You can either cut a one-inch slit down the center of the bottom of the stem. Or you can take a hammer and smash the bottom inch of the stem. Both of these techniques increase the amount of inner wood exposed to the water so it can transport more water and stay fresh longer. 

Final thoughts

These are all just guidelines to get you started - go make your own experiments! Try cutting different flowers at different stages, placing them in different areas of your house, freshening up the water and not freshening and just see what happens and works best for you! 

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