Is it true that aspirin helps preserve flowers
The use of aspirin to preserve cut flowers is a typical remedy. Many home remedies are often shrouded in myths; but in this case there is a scientific justification.
Using aspirin to preserve cut flowers is one of those grandma tricks we've all heard of. No one will argue with the fact that grandmothers have infinite wisdom. Many home remedies are often shrouded in myths, but in this case there is a scientific basis. It is enough to put a tablet in water to keep cut flowers fresh longer, and there are several reasons for this.
Before listing them, we must remember that “aspirin” is the trade name for acetylsalicylic acid. This, in turn, is a modification of salicylic acid. Lastly, it is a substance produced naturally by many plants, in which it performs a variety of functions, ranging from slowing down aging to fighting certain plant pathogens. All this already serves as a clue to what happens when we add it to cut flowers.
Oxidation is prevented
Aging is a process that can be applied to both animals and plants. In the case of cut flowers, he is responsible for their wilting.
And just as oxidation plays a very important role in human aging, the same thing happens with plants. From a chemical point of view, oxidation occurs when a molecule loses electrons. It tries to get that electron back by stealing it from nearby molecules, so it sets up a chain reaction that is harmful to the cells.
These molecules with unpaired electrons are known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and are an indicator of aging. Fortunately, plants have the tools to prevent this oxidation as much as possible. One of them is catalase, an antioxidant enzyme whose activity decreases a few days after flowers are cut.
However, there have been studies with roses in which catalase activity was maintained longer when salicylic acid was added to the vase. In addition, water absorption improves and cut flowers stay fresher.
Other flowers, such as gerberas, have also been found to have oxidizing effects. In particular, it has been observed that the use of salicylic acid inhibits the activity of certain enzymes involved in the oxidation process. In this way, the annoying darkening of the cut flowers is slowed down and, in addition, the concentration of ROS is reduced.
Better effervescent aspirin?
It is sometimes recommended that aspirin added to cut flower water be effervescent. There is also an explanation for this, since bubbling improves the saturation of water with oxygen. However, this is also not a permanent effect, so there won't be much difference to using a different type of aspirin.
Sugar in cut flower vases
The sugar content of cut flower water can also be an important factor. Finding the right amount, however, can be tricky. And the fact is that, according to an article published by the University of Massachusetts, each flower has its own preferences.
For example, for gladioli, the maximum benefit is achieved if the sugar concentration in water is from 4% to 6%. On the other hand, other flowers such as zinnia or snowdrops are damaged if the sugar concentration exceeds 1%.
All this can be adjusted, taking into account the needs of each flower. However, the ideal would be to combine it with a biocide; because otherwise it would also encourage the growth of microorganisms. Some advice recommends using bleach for home use, but the concentration should be monitored very carefully.
So for now, it may be enough for us to add aspirin to the water. The effect is backed by science, and while it's not a panacea, we'll make our cut flowers last at least a little longer.