How to Store Wholesale Flowers – Floral Care 101

Posted By on Jun 20, 2012 | 14 comments

When you get wholesale flowers delivered to your home or business you need to take appropriate care of them the ensure a long vase life. A good rule of thumb for receiving wholesale flowers for an event is to get them 2 days before the event. This strategy is best because it gives the flowers time to rehydrate after they have been in transit and out of water for 2 days. Getting the flowers into their prime requires a little bit of work.

1. Prepare Buckets. You need to make sure all of your buckets are free of chemical residue, previous flower residue, or dirt. Previous flower residue  produces bacteria from decay in the water that will clog the stems of flowers. This will not allow the proper flow of water into the stems and will shorten the vase life of the flowers. Rinse the buckets with dish soap then rinse well with water and dry before adding warm water for flowers. There is no need to use bleach or any other harsh chemicals. Dish soap will do the job and get rid of harmful bacteria and dirt.   *Stay away from metal buckets if possible, metals can mix with floral preservative and harm flowers, use a liner if you must use metal buckets and preservatives.

2. Cut the Stems. Re-cut the Stems. Cut the stems on a diagonal under warm water. This is important because it will force open the bottom of the stem and prevent bacteria build up by creating a seal against bubbles, allowing it to absorb more water. Warm water is always better than cold water when it comes to hydrating flowers. Warm water moves faster and therefore promotes the flow of water, forcing the water into flower stems! Cold water moves more slowly and does not get soaked up by the flower at the right pace. Cut the stems every two days. Remember to use floral sheers or a very sharp knife! Scissors can fray and damage stems making it difficult for water to get to the flower bud.

3. Remove Bottom Leaves and Foliage. Bottom leaves and foliage need to be removed. When leaves and foliage touch the water and start to deteriorate they release bacteria that will clog the stems of the flowers. In order to give the flowers a long vase life, make sure all leaves and foliage are not in the water.

4. Change the Water. The water needs to be changed with each time you cut the stems. New water has more oxygen since the flowers already used up the previous water’s oxygen. Each time you change the water add a little floral preservative.

5. Alternatives to Floral Preservatives. People are constantly asking if they have to buy floral preservative. The truth is, it depends on how long you want the flowers to last. If it is for a wedding 2 days away then not really, a little sprite in the water will do (carbonation, sugar, and citric base are similar to what you find in floral preservative). If you are looking for your flowers to be on your table for 8 days then I would suggest some floral preservative.

Stay tuned for more Floral 101 tips that will really help you get the most out of your fresh cut flowers. Whether for a wedding or event it is the first step to learn how to store wholesale flowers before an event!

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  1. Thanks for the information. I am planning my daughters wedding and will be doing the table center pieces myself

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  2. Doing granddaughters center pieces for baby shower, going to dye half.

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    • Hi Ann! That sounds great! Let us know if you have any questions. We are happy to help!!

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  3. We just received two bunches of long stem roses. I know we cut the bottoms but should we pull off any dead leaves or just leave them bunched up until we are ready to arrange? We aren’t making wedding arrangements for 4 more days?

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    • Hi Jessica! Yes, you should cut all the stems and place them in water to rehydrate. You can remove the foliage (leaves). Make sure to keep the water cold to keep the roses as fresh as possible for as long as possible. Hope this helps!

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      • We are receiving long stem roses on Wednesday for a wedding on Saturday night. After reading the instructions above it says cut under warm water and place in warm water so the water will flow faster. But then I just read above to keep the water cold, which is it? We will have roses and baby’s breath. Please help!!!

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        • Hi Mary! So most of our customers order flowers 2 days before the event date, that’s why we usually advise them to use warm water so the flowers bloom in time. However, since you’ll need to preserve your flowers for a few days, I would recommend that you use cool water to keep them fresh. If they aren’t blooming by Friday, then you can add warm water. Hope this helps!

          Below is a link to a blog post all about caring for roses!

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          • Thank you so much!

  4. How about leaving them out in an AC home , what temp

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    • Hi Denise! Yes, you can store the flowers in an air conditioned room. You can keep the AC at 60 degree. Hope this helps!

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  5. How many stem flowers would you suggest to place into a bucket?
    Approximately. what should be the temperature of the warm water?
    At wedding, can we use regular tap cold water in the vases?
    We will receive our flowers 2 days prior to wedding event. To my understanding we should on day one: (1) cut stems under warm running water; (2) Place flowers into buckets w/ warm water; (3) remove any leaves in contact with water; (4) place buckets in cool place,AC, but away from direct sunlight and air vents (drafts); and (5) do not add any flower preservative. On day 2: (1) recut stems under warm running water; and (2) change old water with fresh warm water.

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    • Hi, Sitirian! The amount of stems that will fit in a bucket depends on the size of the bucket and the types of flowers/greens you order. For example, a 5 gallon bucket will hold about 40-50 stems of roses, or about 20 hydrangeas. The temperature of the water should be about 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you need to extend the vase life of your flowers and greens as much as possible, stay closer to 60 degrees. If you’d like the flowers to open up faster, lean more towards 90 degrees. Floral preservative/food never hurts, but isn’t 100% necessary, and cool tap water will be perfect for the wedding! It sounds like you’ve got a great handle on what you should do when you receive your order! Feel free to reach out to us at if you have any other questions!

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  6. I’m using calla lilies for a bouquet. How do I take care of them till I arrange them? Is it the same as roses? Judy

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    • Hi Judy! Calla lilies are very easy to take care of! Once you receive them, cut their stems about 1-2 inches in length and keep them in buckets or vases of water to rehydrate. You can keep them in a cool and dry location. Usually a garage or basement are the best places to store your flowers until you arrange them. Hope this helps!!

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