13 Best Flowers for Cut Floral Arrangements

Floral arrangement with various flowers in a glass vase with water

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Beautiful bouquets of cut flowers can turn any room into a garden. But many flowers tend to wilt and fade quickly when cut and placed in vases. Knowing which varieties of flowers are the best to grow for long-lasting cut flowers is the first step. Here are the 13 long-standing flower favorites that hold up the best in vases.

Tip

To keep flowers blooming after you place them in a vase, keep cut flowers out of direct sunlight and drafts, change the water every other day, and make a fresh cut each time you change the water.

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How to Keep Your Flowers Fresh (We Tested ALL the Methods!)

  • 01 of 13

    Peruvian Lily (Alstroemeria aurea)

    A dozen Alstroemeria flowers in bloom.

    Sujata Jana/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Also known by its genus name, Alstroemeria, Peruvian lily is a very popular choice of cut flower, even though most people don't know it by its botanical name. Peruvian lily flowers in late spring or early summer. The flowers are sensitive to fluoride, so let tap water sit for a few hours before using.

    Alstroemeria will keep in a vase for 6 to 14 days.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 7–10
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, purple, yellow, orange, and red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained, slightly acidic
  • 02 of 13

    Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

    Orange bird of paradise flower blooming with green leaves in the background.

    Ron Dahlquist/Getty Images

    There's no mistaking the bird of paradise—the flowers look like colorful birds about to take flight. This is a tropical plant that needs lots of sunshine and warmth. It can be grown outdoors in frost-free areas or grown indoors as a houseplant. Even indoors, bird of paradise needs daytime temperatures around 66 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and at least 50 degrees at night. It makes an eye-catching cut flower, although it may need wiring to help support the heavy flowers.

    Bird of paradise will last in a vase for 7 to 14 days when cut fresh.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9–11
    • Color Varieties: Orange, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, loamy, slightly acidic
  • 03 of 13

    Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)

    A variety of colorful carnation flowers in a vase.

    Itaru Sugita/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Carnations are one of the longest-lasting cut flowers. They are also easy to grow from seed and have a wonderful clove-like fragrance. Although they are most commonly thought of as flowering in white, pink, and red, horticulturalists continue to develop new varieties in different hues. If you grow your own, you can have cut flowers well into fall.

    Carnations will last in a vase for 7 to 21 days.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5–9; grown as annuals in other zones
    • Color Varieties: Yellow, pink, red, white, magenta, coral, bicolors
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, well-drained
  • 04 of 13

    Chinese Lantern (Physalis alkekengi)

    Chinese lantern flowers hanging off the stem.

    Joshua McCullough/Getty Images

    This relative of tomatillos and ground cherries is grown for the papery, bright orange husk that develops around its berries (which are toxic). The bright orange seed pods can be used fresh in arrangements. If allowed to dry, they'll keep for months, and maybe years. However, be aware that Chinese lantern can become very invasive. It spreads aggressively through underground rhizomes and It will self-seed prolifically if not deadheaded. It might be wise to grow this plant in a container where you can control its spread.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–9
    • Color Varieties: White flowers covered by orange calyx
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 13 below.
  • 05 of 13

    Delphinium (Delphinium x elatum)

    Variety of colorful delphiniums ranging in color from white, purple, and blue.

    stocknshares/Getty Images

    You can't beat delphiniums for shades of blue and purple, although they also come in white and pink. They can be difficult to grow because they like cool, moist summers. Delphiniums don't grow well in hot and humid climates. If you can grow your own, cutting the flower stalks as soon as they bloom will encourage the plant to repeat-flower. Like Peruvian lily, delphiniums are sensitive to ethylene gas so don't store in the refrigerator with fruits and vegetables.

    Delphiniums will last in a vase for 7 to 14 days when cut fresh.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–7
    • Color Varieties: Blue, purple, white, pink, violet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, humusy, well-drained
  • 06 of 13

    Gladiolus (Gladiolus × hortulanus)

    Pink gladiolus in a vase.

    Inamullhak Cm/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Gladiolus are among the most popular summer bulbs to grow. They can reach heights of four to six feet with their tall, spiky flower stalks. Gladiojus are thirsty cut flowers, so keep an eye on the water level and refill when necessary. You can force unopened buds to open by using warm water in the vase and covering the flowers with a clear plastic bag.

    Gladiola flowers last seven to ten days when cut fresh and placed in a vase.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 6–10
    • Color Varieties: White, cream, yellow, orange, red, pink, green, lavender, purple, bicolors
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, humusy, well-drained
  • 07 of 13

    Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

    Heather flowers

    gaffera/Getty Images

    Sprays of heather are often used as airy filler in floral arrangements. They have long stems of small pink, purple, or white flowers. Another option for the vase is the very similar-looking heath plant (Erica spp.) These evergreens are very long-lasting when cut. Be ware that mold can occur if the stems are packed too tightly in the vase.

    Cut heather will keep in a vase for one to two weeks.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4–6
    • Color Varieties: Rose pink to purplish pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained, humusy; tolerates poor, sandy, or gravely soils
  • 08 of 13

    English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

    Lavender bouquets resting on a table.

    Flottmynd/Getty Images

    It is common to dry lavender, but it also makes a wonderful fresh cut flower. If you arrange fresh lavender stems without adding water to the vase, it will dry on its own and extend its vase life indefinitely. Lavender's strong fragrance intensifies as it dries. When arranging it in a water-filled vase, remove all leaves below the water level or they will rot.

    Cut fresh and placed in water, English lavender will last for up to ten days.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 5–8
    • Color Varieties: many shades of blue and purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 13 below.
  • 09 of 13

    Lilies (Lilium Spp.and Hybrids)

    Pink and white oriental lilies in a vase.

    Maria Mosolova/Getty Images

    You can display any lily, but oriental lilies have the best fragrance. A bouquet of fresh oriental lilies can perfume an entire room. Choose sprays with a few slightly opened lower buds to prolong the bloom time in the vase. The stamens can drop pollen on anything that comes near them, causing an orange-yellow stain that is very difficult to clean from clothing. Use garden snips to remove the stamens by hand before cutting and arranging lilies in a vase

    Cut lilies will keep in a vase for 7 to 14 days.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–9
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, red, orange, yellow, lavender, purple, bicolors
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 10 of 13

    Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena)

    Love-in-a-Mist up-close

    Jean-Philippe Vantighem/Getty Images

    Love-in-a mist-is a cool-season annual flower that blooms in shades of blue, pink, and white. Each flower is surrounded by a fern-like netting or "mist." The flowers give way to a balloon-like seed pod. Both the flowers and the seed pods make interesting additions to floral arrangements.

    Love-in-a-mist will last 7 to 10 days when cut and placed in a vase.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: Annual grown in zones 2–11
    • Color Varieties: Blue with cultivars in white, pink, rose, and purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 11 of 13

    Love-Lies-Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)

    Pink love-lies-bleeding flowers cascading down the branch.
    Marie Iannotti

    Most Amaranthus species make long-lasting cut flowers. The long, distinctive, rope-like tassels of love-lies-bleeding hold their form and red color very well. The plants are very easy to grow from seed, reaching four feet or more in height. Love lies bleeding can be direct sown or can be started indoors ​six to eight weeks before the last frost.

    Cut flowers will last seven to ten days in the vase.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: Annual grown in zones 2–11
    • Color Varieties: Red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 12 of 13

    Roses (Rosa Spp. and Hybrids)

    Bouquet of peach, pink, and red roses sitting in a glass vase.

    jonathansloane/Getty Images

    Roses are the classic cut flower, with more than 100 million sold each year. 20,000 varieties of roses are available to gardeners, so they never get boring. Long-stemmed roses are favored by the florist industry, but you can grow and cut any type of rose for floral arrangements. Spray roses, with multiple blooms on each stem, make quick, charming bouquets. Crushing the end of the stem before you put it in the vase will help it take up more water.

    Roses keep their appearance for 6 to 12 days in a vase.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–10 (depends on variety)
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, salmon, white, rose, purple, yellow, bicolors
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained, loamy, slightly acidic
    Continue to 13 of 13 below.
  • 13 of 13

    Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)

    A dozen Sunflowers blooming.

    LOVE_LIFE/Getty Images

    Homegrown sunflowers spend the early part of the summer growing tall and don't generally bloom until later in the season. You can find them at almost any time of year at flower shops because they have been imported from other countries. The traditional sunflower has bold, yellow flowers, but there are many new hybrids in shades of red and bronze. Sunflowers can be top-heavy, so use a vase that is sturdy enough to support them.

    Sunflowers will last in a vase from 6 to 12 days.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: Annual grown in zones 2–11
    • Color Varieties: Yellow, orange, burgundy, red, bronze, creamy white, bicolors
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained; tolerates poor, dry soil
Article Sources
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  1. University of California Agriculture, and Natural Resources. “Toxic Plants (by Common Name).” Ucanr.edu. N.p., n.d. Web.