Fact or Fiction: How to Keep Your Flowers Fresh

How many of us have heard the advice "add a little sugar or vodka to your vase to help keep your flowers fresh?"  There are many myths when it comes to keeping your cut flowers fresh, but what method really works and which ones are just tales? At Bank of Memories & Flowers, we have put it to the test and have investigated what is really true. 

An aspirin (not ibuprofen), dissolved in the water seems to somewhat lengthen the life of the flowers. The acidic nature of the aspirin helps water flow through the stems. If using this method, just be sure to snip a bit off the ends of the stems each day to keep the tissues open.


This myth has some factual evidence to back it up. Since copper is a fungicide, adding a penny to the vase water helps protect your flowers from bacteria. The antibacterial chemical base of the substance contained in our packets of flower food works much the same way. When using a penny, it is recommended that you also add something of an acidic nature (such as the aspirin above) to encourage water flow.


Using a little bleach serves the same purpose as the penny since bleach kills bacteria. However, be careful not to use too much as the bleach will also cause the flower stems to turn white. Like with the penny, adding an acidic element is suggested to increase the water flow in the stems; many people use lemon juice, lemon-lime soda or vinegar along with the bleach to accomplish this. Keep in mind a little bleach goes a long way.

When the stem of a flower is cut, it immediately begins to receive less nutrients than it was before due to the fact that photosynthesis has stopped. The process of photosynthesis basically creates a "sugar" of sorts for the plant so therefore, adding sugar to your vase water will help to give your flowers the nutrients they need to remain alive and vibrant. Keep in mind, however, that sugar also encourages the growth of bacteria. This bacteria can cause a bad odor and can lead to quite a quick death of your fresh cut flowers. Therefore, if you are going to go the sugar route, be sure to include a penny or bleach to help combat this bacteria.

Believe it or not, the use of vodka in vase water helps to slow down the ripening rate of the blooms. Use in moderation, however, as too much can kill your flowers (or make them drunk! ha ha). Just a few drops will do the trick!

So which method do you think you'll try in your next fresh arrangement? Whichever one you choose, just be sure to do so in moderation -- too much of a good thing is never good! Adding any of the above in amounts too large may have the opposite affect and leave you with a vase full of dead flowers. If you do happen to give any of these tricks a try, be sure and come back to share your findings in the comments below! What's our advice? The most important thing your fresh flowers crave is a fresh cut every other day and fresh, clean water. This will help to encourage water uptake through the stems and keep your flowers vibrant and long-lasting. 

Melissa Maas, Owner