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How can I Make Flowers Last Longer?

By Tess C. Taylor
Updated May 16, 2024
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Freshly cut flowers are a delight to receive as a gift or to liven up a home or office space. Flowers are invariably perishable, but there are a few tricks for making them last their longest. Florists often include life-extending powder with their deliveries, but some ingredients found around the house, including aspirin, vodka and sugary soft drinks, also can extend the life of fresh-cut flowers.

In many cases, floral bouquets sent from a florist will come with a special flower powder life extender packet to make flowers last longer. This packet contains a specially formulated powder that nourishes the flowers and keeps bacteria from forming. The contents of the packet should be poured into the vase, fresh tap water can be added and then the flowers can be placed into the vase. Each day, replace half of the water in the vase to keep oxygen levels up and the flowers should last a week or longer.

Another way to keep fresh flowers looking their best is to add a tablet of aspirin to the water in the vase. This is essentially what florists use in their life-extender packets. If you happen to receive flowers without a packet, you can substitute a tablet of aspirin to make flowers last longer and keep their color for at week or more. It’s also important to snip a little bit off the ends of the stems of the flowers at a slight angle to give them a clean path by which water will travel up the shaft to the flower itself.

Some people swear by adding a couple capfuls of cheap vodka, Sprite® or 7-up® soda to the water in a vase when dealing with brightly colored flowers such as roses and carnations. The sugar in the soda serves to add some nourishment to the water and the vodka helps with sterilizing the water, which cuts down on bacteria growth. This should also bring out the fragrance in the flowers in addition to helping to make flowers last longer.

An additional tip to make flowers last longer is to make sure that all leaves stay out of the water. Leaves on the stems can actually promote scum and bacteria which forms on the surface of the plant stems and water and cuts down on fresh oxygen from reaching flower petals at the top. Be sure to trim stems and leaves so that they don’t contaminate the water which will give fresh flowers a longer lifespan.

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Discussion Comments
By indigomoth — On Feb 20, 2014

@pleonasm - I try not to get too sentimental about flowers. I just like having fresh roses around the house. For a while I tried to dry and keep every petal but it just got to be too much. Other people might be able to keep on top of it, but I prefer to just be able to throw them in the compost bin once they are past their prime.

And the nice thing about roses is that they actually do better if you cut the flowers off, so I don't feel guilty about having bunches of them in my house when they are in season.

By pleonasm — On Feb 19, 2014

If you really want to preserve flowers, perhaps out of sentiment, remember that you will want to start when the flower is at its peak, rather than waiting until it begins to wilt. Maybe if it's a bunch of flowers you can just take off a few of them to preserve by pressing them or drying them and let the rest of the buds stay in the vase.

A couple of times I've made the mistake of not pulling out flowers that I wanted to keep in time and they've lost all their petals or otherwise gone bad. It's very disappointing when that happens.

By bythewell — On Feb 18, 2014

If you are trimming the stems anyway, one thing you might do to woody stems is crush them a little bit. It increases the surface area of the part that is drawing up water and it can preserve the flowers for a little bit longer.

I don't think it helps if the stems are fleshy rather than woody, though, so don't do this to every type of flower.

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