Flower Power: Testing 8 Common Methods for Making Cut Flowers Last PART 2

Last week I started an experiment.  I wanted to see which, of all of the internet's This-Will-Make-Your-Cut-Flowers-Last-Longer additives really worked, and which delivered the best results.  The contenders were the six most common preservative recommendations I could find: Aspirin, Apple Cider Vinegar, Bleach, a Penny, Vodka, and Soda.  I also tested grocery store flower food and used plain water as the control. 

The results? Somewhat surprising actually!  Below the countdown, from worst to best, along with the pics and particulars.  So with no further ado...

8.  Copper Penny & Sugar 
At least it looks ashamed of its failings
Observations: By Day 3, when I changed the water, the Penny Rose was feeling a little soft. It hadn't opened much more, but it already had a few rolling edges and darkening spots.  By Day 5, the Penny Rose had bit the dust. I attempted to leave it one or two more days (I was hoping they all could last at least a week) but on Day 6, when I went to move it, the entire head fell off.  If this truly WAS a competition, perhaps the Penny could enter as The Decapitator.

 Additional Thoughts: I have to say, I didn't have a lot of hope for this one from the beginning.  I have in the past tried adding a penny to arrangements and never noticed any difference.  But on the upside, of all of the roses that died, at least it has some coinage to pay the Ferry-Man to navigate the river Styx.  Always a silver lining.

The Copper Penny & Sugar Additives weren't enough to keep the rose looking good. 
7. Apple Cider Vinegar & Sugar
Observations: The Vinegar Rose didn't look terrible by the end, but by Day 3 the bloom hadn't opened at all, and felt extremely soft.  By Day 5, it looked dark, spotty and withered and by Day 6 fell apart completely.  In addition, the vinegar made the water a bit yellowish (not reminiscent of anything good), and the distinct smell lingered in the room, even after several days.  

Additional Thoughts: I love me some vinegar. It does amazing things when used in cleaning and cooking.  But when someone tells you to "Stop and smell the roses", they don't usually follow it up with "Because, Sweet Moses, they smell like a salad."

Apple Cider Vinegar, though wonderful for a lot of things, is NOT something I'll be using again for my flowers.

6. Aspirin
Observations:  As I mentioned this last week, one of the things I didn't like was how cloudy the Aspirin made the water.  I had hoped that might clear up, and to some degree it did, but there was still a white silt on the bottom of the glass for the whole week.  As to the flower, it did open slightly, but the bloom felt soft by Day 3 and lost the majority of its petals by Day 5 and 6.

Additional Thoughts: This one surprised me.  I've heard a lot of people say to use Aspirin over the years, and I thought for sure it would be one of the final contestants.  To be honest, I actually debated whether or not it should be swapped with the Vinegar.  The petals - though opened slightly- looked wilted and rolled by Day 3 and 4, however the fact that it didn't smell or look like the water had been *ahem* used gave it a slight advantage.

Aspirin Rose

5. Grocery Store Flower Food 
Observations: The bloom on the Flower Food Rose didn't open much, but it did stay looking nice through Day 3 and Day 4.  By Day 5 it still looked okay, bu the petals were starting to roll and darken a bit and the head felt softer.  Day 6, the rose had started to droop and lose petals.  

Additional Thoughts: The flower food dissolved well in the water and though maybe not completely clear it wouldn't be noticeable for the most part.  In addition, the color of this rose stayed very vibrant.  I don't know if there was just something different about the rose itself, or if it was in fact the flower food, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  By Day 6 the rose HAD started to smell a bit like a - well- decaying rose.  But hey, I start to smell after two days really, so I figured 6 days was pretty darn good.  

The Flower Food Rose
 3./4.  Bleach & Sugar 
Observations: The Bleach Rose had opened nicely by Day 3.  Day 5 showed some wilting on the outer petals (which could be removed in ordinary circumstances), but it still held its shape well.  The bloom was soft though, and by Day 6, one or two petals were starting to make their escape.  

Additional Thoughts: At the start, I had thought that this one might go the distance, and it did hold up pretty nicely.  The bleach smell dissipated almost immediately (or, potentially, was just overwhelmed by the vinegar smell).  I almost gave this one a hard third place, but considering it lost some of its petals by Day 6, I felt it was only fair to call it a tie with... 

The bleach in the water keeps away bacteria, while the sugar acts as food to the Rose. Apparently carbs aren't an issue for it.

3. Water  
Observations: Days 3 AND 5 had the rose looking more open.  It remained firm through Day 5, and though on Days 6 and 7 it had started to soften a bit and take on that decaying rose smell, it did not lose any petals.  

Additional Thoughs: BWAAAAH?!  This one really blew my mind.  I actually never intended to even give it a rank as it was the control, but darn it it looked so pretty I felt it deserved it.  

Water Rose
 2.  Sprite Rose 
 Observations:  The Sprite Rose opened at a slower place than the Water Rose, but that also meant that it stayed looking nice longer. Day 3, 4 and 5 the rose stayed firm and only by Day 6 did the bloom start feeling soft.  Day 7, I still think it would have looked decent in an arrangement. 

Additional Thoughts: This was another surprise to me.  I mean I like Sprite, but who'd-a-thunk flowers do too?  

Sprite Rose
And Finally (Drum roll please)...

1. Vodka & Sugar 
Day 7 and it looks beautiful!
Observations: The Vodka Rose had a more pronounced opening than the Sprite Rose, but less immediate than the Water Rose.  It stayed firm through Day 6 and didn't show much darkening or curling at the petal edges.  The color also seemed to keep well. 

Additional Thoughts:  Oh Rose - you lush.   The Vodka Rose looked great a week in - to the point that I wouldn't worry about using it in an arrangement.  None of the petals dropped and the color looks almost better than it did in the beginning (perhaps there's truth to getting Rosy in the Face when you've been drinking!).  The water stayed nice and clear and the smell of decay wasn't as noticeable a week later.  So if you've got some vodka floating around in your house, grab some flowers and get yo' shine on!  ("One for the rose, one for me...")
The Vodka Rose stayed firm and vibrant through the end of the experiment. Would were we all.

 Final Thoughts and Caveats: 
To be a fair experiment, the test really should be done multiple times OR with multiple roses in each glass. I may redo the procedure at some point to see what the outcome is.  
This experiment also didn't include various breeds of roses or even colors, which could, potentially alter the conclusions.  

Ultimately? If you have something that you swear is working for you... Why change?  

On the other hand, if you're out there looking for a good reason to make a mixed drink - just blame it on the roses. (Although I will say, this really only works if you actually HAVE flowers in the house. It's a tougher sell otherwise.)

Stay Rosy, friends!


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