Just like getting rid of the hiccups, it seems everyone has a theory about how to keep flowers fresh longer. We took the five most popular theories and put them to the test — seven days in a controlled environment, under observation. It was like the hunger games, except with flowers.
We started with five vases of the same FTD arrangement. In each vase, we put 1 FTD flower food packet along with 2 cups of lukewarm water. Then each vase received one of the tests: vodka, Sprite, apple cider vinegar & sugar, aspirin or the fridge.
Wondering the thought process on these crazy theories? There is some science behind them.
- Vodka — Vodka, or any alcohol, may have a preserving effect halting ethylene production which is the gas that makes flowers wilt.
- Sprite — Sprite makes the water more acidic, which means it can travel up the stem of the flower more quickly. Also, the sugar serves as food for the flower.
- Apple cider vinegar & sugar — Vinegar acts as an antibacterial agent while the sugar serves as flower food.
- Refrigerator — Cold temperature slows aging of the flower.
- Aspirin — Aspirin may lower the pH of the water.
We changed out the water (and replenished the same ingredients into each vase) on day 3.
Here’s what happened:
And the Losers Are…
It turns out, flowers react a lot like people.
Case in point: The vase with Sprite did fine on days 1 and 2 but started to fade on day 3 and was a slimy mess by day 5. The vase with the vodka also did fine on days 1 and 2 but looked droopy and had grayish stems by day 4. Compare the Sprite vase to a six-year-old with a sugar high; the vodka, to a college frat boy on a bender — and suddenly flower behavior makes a lot of sense.
Scientifically, sugar acts as a carb to feed the flower, but it encourages bacterial growth. Also rooted in science, alcohol does stop the production of ethylene, but flowers, like humans, can only handle a very low percentage of alcohol.
Aspirin — Despite many a study to see if aspirin works on flowers, no concrete conclusions have been made. This might be because mediocre results rarely stand out. We didn’t find the aspirin to have any preserving effects, though it did not kill the flowers faster, either.
Runner Up Is…
Apple Cider Vinegar & Sugar — Flowers need sugar as food. Sugar is a substantial ingredient in flower food packets. The problem is, sugar accelerates bacterial growth. And you get those gunky, slimy leaves around day 4 to prove it. The solution is to add an acid. Enter vinegar, the bacteria-fighting agent to combat any damage the sugar creates.
It’s the perfect pair, and the combo held its own in our survival-of-the-fittest trial.
The Winner Is…
Every night before hitting the hay, we put this vase of flowers in the fridge. They were typically in there for about eight hours. When we woke up, we took the flowers out and displayed them with the others on the dining room table. It seems such a simple solution, but it kept our flowers fresh well through day 7. It makes sense that florists keep their flowers inside a large refrigerator.
Though anchored in science, many of the theories only have an inkling of truth to them. Your best bet to keep your flowers alive longer is using the flower food packet that comes with your arrangement and placing them in the fridge overnight.