There are few things that brighten up a room better than a potted flower or a vase of fresh-cut flowers. If the flowers aren't looking their best, however, they can create an eyesore in your home. There are several things you can add to your flowers' water to help them last longer to save you money on fresh flower costs. A combination of sucrose and acidic ingredients can keep your flowers looking fresh.
When you buy cut flowers from the florist, a packet of flower preservative usually is included in the packaging. You add this food to the fresh water when you put the flowers in a vase. Floral food contains a mixture of sucrose and acidifiers. The sucrose is food for the flowers, while the acidifiers stop the growth of bacteria and microorganisms that can shorten the life of your flowers. Each packet of preservative includes instructions for use, so you know how much to add to your vase.
You can dissolve about 3 tbsp. of white sugar in every quart of water used for your flowers. The sucrose found in sugar is food for the flowers that is drawn up through the stem in the water. The water in a vase should be changed often, each time adding sugar to the fresh water. Sugar and sucrose may contribute to bacterial growth, so you should add an acidifier to the mix.
A secret of flower lovers is to add clear soda to a vase of fresh flowers to prolong the life of fresh stems. Soda contains high amounts of sugar, which provides food to keep the flowers healthy. Lemon-lime soda contains citrus, which helps inhibit bacterial growth as well. Add about 1/2 can for every gallon of water for best results.
When added to water for flowers, vinegar serves as an acidifier that prevents bacterial growth, makes water flow in stems more efficient, stabilizes the flowers' colors and slows the rate of decay. Add 2 tbsp. of vinegar for every quart of fresh water. You can use white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Bleach is another option for acidifiers to add to your water for flowers. The bleach kills any bacteria in the water, a major factor that accelerates the rate of decay in flowers. Be careful not to add too much bleach and kill the flowers--only 1/4 tsp. of bleach is needed for 1 quart of water.
Lemon juice is a natural acid that can be added to water for flowers. In addition to its power to prolong the life of flowers, it can add a fresh fragrance to your home. Use 2 tsp. of lemon juice for every quart of water. Lemon juice also can be used with the 1/4 tsp. of bleach.
An old-time solution for prolonging flower growth is to add vodka or other clear spirits to the flower water. The vodka has antibacterial properties which, along with a sucrose source, can extend the life of flowers. Only a few drops of vodka are needed in a vase of flowers.
- University of Illinois Extension: Prolonging Fresh Cut Garden Flowers
- "Reader's Digest;" 8 Ways to Make Flowers Last Longer
- "Scientific American;" Fact or Fiction? Vodka and Citrus Sodas Keep Cut Flowers Fresh; Ciara Curtin; February 14, 2007
- "Woman's Day;" How to Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer; Carly Orleach; February 22, 2010
- Photo Credit vase of springtime flowers isolated image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com
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