This clever hack will keep cut flowers alive for longer – all you need is to treat them to a cheeky tipple, seriously

Is giving your fresh flowers a shot of vodka going to keep them alive for longer? Experts reveal

A vase of flowers on a kitchen counter
(Image credit: Future PLC)

While we’re all obsessed with decorating our homes with fresh flowers during spring and summer, they are a great way to spruce up your abode even in the winter months as there are many a bouquet with a Christmassy or wintery theme. There is just one issue – figuring out a way to keep them fresh for longer with the central heating on and everything. And we just came across an outrageous one. But does vodka keep flowers fresh for real? Or is it another myth?

In the world of countless TikTok hacks and online fads, some of which are hits while others are real misses, we don’t know what to believe anymore. But flowers are great for mental health and for viewing pleasure, elevating our homes one bloom at a time. So if vodka is the unexpected answer to keeping them alive for as long as possible, we’re here for it.

But to distinguish the truth from the old wives’ tale we’ve consulted our floristry experts to reveal whether we should be sneaking a shot of this cheeky tipple into our flower vases. 

A vase of flowers on a tray with tea and biscuits

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jeremy Phillips)

Does vodka keep flowers fresh?

The biggest enemies of your cut flowers are germs and bacteria living in their water. And the naturally antibacterial properties of vodka make it the ultimate bacteria killer.

‘Using vodka in your vase may seem like a waste of alcohol to many, but it can have surprising benefits,’ says David Denyer, flower expert at Eflorist. ‘Vodka is a strong antibacterial substance, and by adding a shot of vodka into your vase, it can help to kill bacteria and germs that may be lurking around the flowers’ stems.’

But he warns, ‘Remember, straight vodka can be too strong for the plant, so dilute it with some water first.’

So while this is not how to preserve flowers forever, it could prolong their life quite significantly.

A vase of flowers on a kitchen counter

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jon Day)

On the other hand, Rosebie Morton, founder of The Real Flower Company, is a little bit more sceptical while not denying the effectiveness of the liquor’s abilities. 

‘Vodka is not really going to make a huge difference to prolonging the longevity of the flowers other than by its nature of being acidic which will help to stop the build-up of bacteria in the water.  It will also enhance the water uptake within the stems. Any acid will have the same effect and a good vinegar would be rather cheaper than vodka,’ she recommends.

Instead, she recommends mixing vinegar with bleach and sugar for the ultimate flower food. ‘The best way to extend vase life is by adding a tablespoon of any vinegar (or vodka if you prefer!), 2-3 drops of bleach and a good heaped dessert spoon of sugar. The bleach will keep the water clean and the sugar will give energy to the flowers so all together you will extend your vase life by a few days. Also, I suggest changing the water every 2-3 days.’

A vase of fresh flowers on a windowsill

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Rosebie says that even a can of lemonade could suffice. ‘If you want a really quick fix, invest in some tins of lemonade or Sprite and use a can of it mixed with the flower water. Lemonade is both acidic and full of sugar so it's an easy win to extend the beauty of your flowers.’

However, David adds another benefit of vodka that neither lemonade nor vinegar possess. ‘Another surprising, and scientific, way to use vodka for your flowers is by slowing down the production of ethylene. Ethylene is a plant hormone that can naturally help to promote growth at the start of the flowers’ life. But over time, it can actually contribute to the flowers wilting, and may cause the buds and petals to droop. By adding a dash of vodka, it can slow down the production of ethylene, and keep your flowers healthier for longer.’

Now that you know how to keep flowers fresh for longer, if you’re in the market for a beautiful bouquet to adorn your Christmas tablescape with, then the above are some of our favourite ones for Christmas table centrepiece ideas. Will you be adding a dash of vodka into their vase though?

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.