David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Wed Mar 6 01:19:16 EST 1996

Aspirin is one of several "home remedies" for preserving cut flowers. 
Others include lemon-lime sodapop, sugar, a copper cent, and bleach. 
Commercial flower preservatives usually act to do three things: 1) provide
an energy source for the flower - sucrose, 2) provide a biocide to prevent
microbial clogging of xylem, and 3) lower pH, which also inhibits microbe
growth but also seems to improve water uptake. 

Carnation vase life can be doubled or tripled by "pulsing" the flowers
with silver thiosulfate or other ethylene antagonist. 

Cut flower studies make excellent teaching experiments because they
illustrate practical plant physiology. Besides floral preservatives, cut
flowers can be used to test effects of recutting stems underwater to
remove air blockages in the xylem. Flowers can also be dyed to illustrate
water movement in the xylem. 

David R. Hershey
Snail mail: 6700 Belcrest Road #112, Hyattsville, MD 20782-1398

Adjunct Professor, Biology/Horticulture Department
Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD 20772-2199

Email: dh321 at

On 5 Mar 1996 Peggy.Pollak at NAU.EDU wrote:

> I used the question about "feeding" sugar solution or milk to a plant
> to see their effects on growth as a thought question in my freshman
> botany course.  During the ensuing discussion someone mentioned that
> aspirin was used to keep cut flowers fresh.  I had never heard of this
> but several students confirmed that they had.  Has anyone out there
> heard of this use of aspirin?  What might be the physiological basis
> for using aspirin?  All I could think of was a possible pH effect.
> Thanks.  Peggy Pollak

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