How to Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer - An Experiment

Everyone always wants to extend the life of fresh flowers, I mean it’s obvious why, they are so beautiful when in bloom! In fact, if you just do a search online, you’ll come across a heap of “tips” on how you can make fresh flowers last longer. I’ve even googled this myself in the past.

I’ve never really tried any of the suggestions before so I thought it would be a great idea to give it a go. I’ll run an experiment just to see if any of them really worked. Or are they just old wive’s tales that simply gets passed around and around?

Introducing the results of my first experiment! I must say I was quite surprised… so let’s take you through what I did and how each day fared.

Day 0

I purchased a bunch of purply pink chrysanthemums and placed one stem in each glass bottle. 

One contained just tap water, so this would be my control. Another had a mixture of a few drops of bleach & a sprinkle of caster sugar. The last bottle contained half a tablet of aspirin and a sprinkle of caster sugar.

They say that adding bleach helps keep bacteria at bay, adding aspirin increases the water’s acidity and thereby helping it move up the stem, whilst sugar’s carbohydrates act as food for the stems. So let’s see how this goes…. 

As always, I removed all leaves along the bottom half of each stem and snipped the stem end at an angle.


Day 1

Not much of a change, the blooms are still quite nice apart from one that has dropped from the upper stem (in bottle no. 3 containing the aspirin + sugar), but that could just be an outlier. An unlucky one.

Overall, everyone’s pretty even steven!


Day 2

Woweee, now it’s getting interesting! 

The control is still relatively perky and nice. The bleach & sugar edition is faring quite well, perhaps a little more worn out the day before but generally fine.

The most surprising has been the aspirin + sugar mix. You can see that more than half the stem has browned and actually all the flowers on that stem have drooped. Wow, what a change over night. Not good!


Day 3

The control is still kind of okay, with no droopy blooms.

Bleach & sugar are starting to droop just a bit more so that’s not a great sign. Meanwhile, the aspirin & sugar combo is definitely a goner. Look at how sad it is! 


Here’s a close up shot of the control: not too bad after 3 days and no help!


With the bleach and sugar combo, they’re doing quite well too but you’ll notice that one bloom right at the very back towards the right has started to droop…


And lastly, the definitive loser: the aspirin + sugar combo. Sorry folks, don’t try that one at home!



Based on this experiment run on its own, it would seem that going fully natural with just tap water worked best. 

However I don’t like making sweeping statements after just a single test so I’m going to run this again and use a different floral variety. I wonder how it will fare the second time around - stay tuned!

As an aside, as I really want to let you know that…

Ever since I’d finished reading Amy Stewart’s Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, I’ve gained a new outlook and appreciation of the beauty of flowers. I think flowers are just as beautiful when they are wilting, just in a different fragile way. 

Think about it: by the time fresh flowers arrive at your front door or appear at your local florist, they’ve already been cut at least a day or two. So really, it’s only natural that they’ve begun to wilt, don’t you think?

As a society, we seem to have an obsession with preventing the wilting process for as long as possible. It’s pretty absurd when you realise how natural a process this should be for the flower. Having said that, yes I understand the need to do this for the sake of special events etc, but sometimes, I really do wish that people learned to appreciate the dying nature (and beauty) of flowers too. What do you think?