Taking care of houseplants can be hard, and taking care of delicate flowers can be even more challenging. With the return of summertime and fresh, blooming bouquets, you might find that no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to keep your arrangement alive and thriving for longer than just a few days. From flower food to regulating temperatures, one hack for preserving your flowers may be simpler and more accessible than you think — vodka.
In an interview with HuffPost UK, Chris Bonnett, founder of online flower service Gardening Express, explained that adding just a spoonful of vodka to your vase of water can help support flowers’ overall health. Vodka promotes overall plant well-being by inhibiting the production of ethylene, a ripening gas released by plants in order to help them mature. By inhibiting ethylene production, vodka can slow the aging process, allowing blooms to stay fresher for a longer period of time — even on the hottest days. It is important to note that (like human beings) plants can only withstand certain concentrations of alcohol, so it is important to use small amounts of vodka that are fully diluted in water.
Many professional florists follow a similar process following the cut of their own flowers from their native plants. Rather than using vodka, florists started using silver thiosulfate diluted in the vase of their flowers after finding that the compound prolonged the vase life of flowers. Much like the beloved spirit, silver thiosulfate works by inhibiting ethylene production.
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While vodka can slow the process of ethylene production, it unfortunately cannot block your bouquet from aging entirely. As flowers age, they begin to produce their own bacteria in addition to absorbing bacteria from their surrounding environments, which can be harmful to plant health. Luckily, vodka can help you there, too. As noted by Bonnett, vodka actually acts as an antibacterial agent, meaning when mixed with flowers, it will kill harmful bacteria on the stems and help to promote healthy flower growth.
So, the answer is ultimately, yes: Vodka can really help your flowers live longer, but it does not come from the fountain of youth and, unfortunately, your bouquet will eventually wilt and meet its end. Additional methods of slowing age include cutting any dead leaves of flowers from the bouquet as well as storing your blooms in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Also, avoid putting your blooms next to your fruit bowl — especially if you’ve just returned from a farmers market run — because fresh fruit produces ethylene. Otherwise, you risk undoing all of the helpful work done by the vodka.