How Can You Make Flowers Last Longer?

How Can You Make Flowers Last Longer?

It’s a harsh reality of the circle of life: Flowers aren’t meant to last. However, thanks to chemistry, you can help them live just a bit longer. [Splash] To keep cut flowers fresh, you’ve got to fight the flower’s normal aging (er, dying) processes. Plants have a straw-like system
called xylem to transport water using surface tension (on screen
text- capillary action). When the stems are cut, air rushes into the xylem, blocking the water system. But more on that later. When you’re ready to put your beautiful
bouquet in a vase, follow these steps. STEP 1: Clean yo’ vahz. Clean yo’ vahz. It sounds simple, but a little soap
and water can go a long way to preventing bacteria and fungi
from invading your bouquet. If you’re motivated, you can even
clean the vase and refill the water every day, for maximum disinfection. STEP 2: Flowers need water.
So fill up the vase. Flowers need water, duh. But it’s a little more complicated than that. It’s best to use warm water (110 dF)
and slightly degassed, meaning entrapped air has been allowed to escape. The simplest way of doing this is to
fill up a vase with warm water and let it sit for a few minutes. The quality of the water also
affects the life of the flowers. Plants prefer slightly acidic water
(pH 3.5 to 5.0) that doesn’t have too many dissolved solids or fluoride. STEP 3: Feed your flowers Next, add the little packet of
“flower food” from the florist. What’s inside that thing anyway? 1. First, it has bleach or some other microbe killer. The bleach helps the disinfecting
process by killing any microorganisms that are trying to eat away
at your flowers and make it harder for them to thrive. 2. Second, it has citric acid. This lemony goodness reduces the
water’s pH, which in turn helps water travel up the xylem faster and reduce wilting. 3. And third, it has sugar! When carbohydrates are low, flowers
wilt and petals become paler. To prevent this, sucrose or glucose
can be added from the packet to help the flowers regain strength and beauty. That’s what candy bars do for us, right? (screen: Not right.) But be careful, microorganisms and bacteria
LOVE sugar, so that’s why you shouldn’t just dump table sugar into
your vase — you need everything in that little packet. STEP 4: Cut the stems Run the stems under water and
cut off a bit from the bottom of the stem at a 45 d angle. This ensures a wide opening to the xylem and keeps air bubbles to a minimum. Also, try not to cut the leaves. The leaves are how the plant gets
energy — photosynthesis, remember?! Once you made your snips, put
them those bad boys in the vase. Step 5: Keep them away from ripe fruit Fruit produces ethylene, which tells a plant to ripen. Faster ripening=faster aging=dead flowers. Step 6: Keep them cool
Finally, try to keep your cut flowers cool. If you’re going to leave the house
for a day or two, stick ‘em in the fridge (just not too close to
any ripe fruits or veggies). This reduces microbial growth and
decreases the plant’s metabolic rate, slowing the aging process. Kind of like that futuristic
cryogenics stuff we’re trying on people, but not quite as sci-fi or expensive. There, you’ve done it! Congrats! Smell those roses (or lilies or
tulips or whatever) while you can. Tell us your favorite plant in the
comments, and of course let us know about future episodes you want to see. Special thanks to chemist and
ACS expert Frankie Wood-Black for helping with this week’s episode. Check out her columns linked in the summary. Smell ya later!

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  1. Famous plant is defs Venus fly traps and or Pitcher plants, have some in my backyad, they;'re so coool :'))

  2. Try adding vodka to flower water. About 50ml for 500ml of water will do fine. It kills bacteria and fungi making your flowers last 2-4 days longer.

  3. This channel is underrated. Best chemistry videos out there hands down. Thank you for your efforts, this is just what I was looking for!

  4. Could you please speak little bit slow, mind needs a bit time to process incoming gigantic quanta of information!!!!!

  5. A tip from when I worked as a groundskeeper for an estate from the estate's florist:
    Do any and all cuttings in a large bowl of clean, warm water.

    He stated that when a fresh cut is made, the xylem and phloem are constantly pulling a small vacuum and will draw in air until the end seals over again. This air creates an embolism that can block the passage of nutrients up into the body of the plant. By cutting underwater, you prevent this embolism from forming.

    I've not done any of the testing myself, but it sounds reasonable given what I know.

    I know this is more physiology than chemistry, but are you guys up to test this?

  6. This doesn't really say how to make them last longer. If you change to clean water and fresh food every 2-3 days and trim the bottom of the stems, it prolongs the life. I remove the wilting flowers and rearrange the rest of the bouquet. I've had some flowers, particularly carnations and lilies among others, last 10 days to 2 weeks this way. Especially lilies, they will last until all the unopened ones bloom if you do this consistently! 😊🌸

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