Lifehack: Keep Cut Flowers Fresh With a Splash of Bleach
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Still Fresh nine days in the vase  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 400 — image data
Still Fresh
nine days in the vase

I lost the last two days of my life to a cold that started coming on while writing the previous post. Starting to feel better today, a light and airy subject like flowers helps to brighten the mood.

I have the opposite of a green thumb... I kill every plant I touch, it seems, regardless of whether it's potted or vased. When I get cut flowers from the florist (e.g. for Mother's Day, etc.) I sometimes get that expensive liquid you add to the vase water that's supposed to extend the life of the flowers, but it has never seemed to work for me, and the flowers go bad after a couple of days. (This is after, mind you, re-cutting the stems crisply at an angle and all that stuff that's supposed to help them thrive.)

Creamy helped along by a touch of Lightroom's “negative clarity”  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 800 — image data
Creamy
helped along by a touch of Lightroom's “negative clarity”

Last week when getting flowers for Fumie for our 14th wedding anniversary, I thought to ask the florist about that keep-em-going liquid stuff, and he told me his secret: just add a dash of bleach to the water when you first fill it, and you're done.

I was skeptical, to say the least. Bleach smells!

He said that you don't have to change the water... the bleach kills the bacteria, which is what sends the flowers bad before their time. How much? Just a capful.

Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 800 — image data

It sure works.

These flowers have been sitting in front of the window for nine days now, and still look pretty fresh. I'd added a small splash of bleach, which did smell at first because the concentrate was exposed as it was getting poured, but it was never noticed after that. These particular flowers don't have much of a smell themselves to begin with, so it's not like a strong flower smell was merely covering up the bleach smell.

An added bonus of not having to change the water is not having to recut the stems every day. It's truly a “fire and forget” kind of thing.

Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 400 — image data

I wish I would have known about this long ago.


All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

I used to keep cut flowers for several days by putting one aspirin in the water with the flowers. I seldom cut them now as I leave them outside growing as they are a natural food source for so many creatures in the wild kingdom. We are short on butterflies this year — having only seen two since it warmed up. Our winter was more like our springs used to be. It got up to the 80s for several days and it should have been below “zero.” We all think that warm spell ruined a lot of things like normalaity in the garden. I really enjoy your photography and I started long before you were even born — 1953 for me and in Sapporo using a camera made from tin bear cans. It worked until I ended up with a Nikon and then a Canon obtained from the PX in Yokohama (Navy PX – Army PX never carried them for some reason).

— comment by Abraham Lincoln on May 25th, 2012 at 11:38pm JST (5 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

What a great tip. I googled it & many sites agree. Now I want to run out & get some flowers to try it myself! 🙂

— comment by Kat on May 26th, 2012 at 2:10am JST (5 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

My grandfather had a commercial greenhouse in Phily for 40 yrs and grew for Dupont’s Longwood gardens and many others. 2 tricks he told me were a clear cola such as ginger ale, Sprite, 7 up etc added to your flower water will help keep cut flowers longer. Many cut flowers in stores were freeze dried for shipping, cutting the stems and holding them underwater for a min or 2 will help rehydrate them. This is also how you color flowers for holidays using food coloring.

— comment by Ed Pouso on May 26th, 2012 at 9:10am JST (5 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

I never knew bleach could keep flowers fresh. Very interesting. I guess I’m using bleach for flowers now!!!

— comment by mrs. awesome on November 19th, 2014 at 11:17am JST (3 years ago) comment permalink
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