As a florist, Kamila Alikhani has heard every bouquet trick in the book. The owner of Bloomier, a West Vancouver-based flower subscription service, had customers share their flower hacks all the time—some said they added sugar or even vinegar to their vases to make the blooms last longer. Interesting theories, she thought. But she wasn’t about to believe anything before trying it for herself.

“I put out a call one day on my Instagram story asking what people add to their flowers,” says Alikhani. After a flood of replies, she decided to do an experiment with the top answers: bleach, vinegar, sugar, aspirin, flower food, plain old water and plain old water again (but changing it every day). Here were the results after four days:

From left to right: bleach, same water and fresh water on day 4.

“The most surprising result was the flower food,” says Alikhani. Flower food comes with basically every bouquet you buy, so you’d think it would be good for flowers—you’d be wrong.” Alikhani says that while the flower food made the bouquet open faster, the blooms were short-lived. It yielded the worst result out of the bunch. “What’s in that packet is chloride and sugar—sugar to feed the flowers and chloride to kill the bacteria—but it didn’t help,”  she laughs. “I think it’s just one of those very highly marketed products. The flower food also made the bouquet very thirsty.”

Though the flower food was the biggest upset, the bleach, sugar, aspirin and vinegar weren’t much better. All six of those bouquets died completely between the fourth and seventh day. The two waters—same water and water changed daily—emerged victorious. Here’s what they looked like on day 7:

From left to right: same water and fresh water on day 7.

According to this experiment, keeping it simple is the key: plain water changed every day will make your flowers last the longest. Alikhani says that what really kills bouquets is the bacteria in the water, which forms especially around leaves and dirt. Changing the water every day prevents that growth, and making sure that there are no leaves below the water also helps.

Whatever internet tricks you read, it seems like bouquets like it basic—sunlight and fresh water are really the only hacks you need.

Originally posted February 11, 2021.