Easy Flower Science Fair Project
Test the Myths of Flower Preservation
If you like myth busters, you might like this science project. Flowers are a multi-billion dollar industry and whether a person is getting them for a wedding, for Valentine's Day or for their mom, everyone wants to make sure those flowers don't droop too soon.
Florists and grocery stores often give customers a packet of preservative to put in the water of their vase. Do these really work? Is there a special solution which really makes flowers last longer? This science fair project tests homemade solutions, old wives tales and a commercial preservative to see the truth.
How Much Are Flowers Worth?
For the last 10 years in the U.S., consumers have spent at least 24 billion dollars on flowers according to a flower industry review.
Put Flowers in Pint Jar Box For Easy Moving
Rationale for Flower Preserving Science Project
Flowers are an expensive perishable purchase used to decorate at special events like weddings as well as a gift for occasions like Christmas, Birthdays and Mother’s Day. How can fresh cut flowers be made to last as long as possible? Does one solution work the best for most types? Florists offer special mixtures for consumers, and there are a variety of homemade ideas for keeping flowers fresh. Because the value of flowers increases the longer they are able to be used, finding out the answer to this question has importance to the flower industry and to consumers.
Problem and Hypothesis
Problem: Which solution will keep flowers the fresh for display the longest.
Hypothesis: I do not think that the florist additive is necessary to keep cut flowers ready for display the longest. I think that some of the home remedies will work just as well. My hypothesis is that 7-up will make the flowers last the longest because it not only has sugar to nourish it but also other chemicals that I think will prevent bacteria growing.
- 10 pint-sized jars to use as vases for containing flowers in solution
- Tablespoon measure
- 8 oz. cup measure
- Labcoat protection (for Clorox)
- Tap Water
- Distilled Water
- 30 Bellis Perennis (Daisy) cut flowers
- 1 Penny
- ½ cup Cider Vinegar
- 12 pack of 7-up
- ½ cup Sugar
- ½ cup Floralife
- ½ cup Clorox Bleach
- ½ cup Listerine Mouthwash
Document Experiment With Pictures
Procedure for Experiment
1. 30 Bellis Perennis (Daisy) flowers will be purchased from the same source at the same time to ensure they are of the same freshness as the start of the experiment.
2. Wearing gloves, goggles and a protective lab coat, the following solutions will be mixed in the 10 pint jars using the TB spoon and 8 oz. cup. Hands will be washed following making each mixture.
3. The solutions will be as follows:
- 8 oz. tap water.
- 8 oz. distilled water.
- 8 oz. tap water and 1 teaspoon salt.
- 8 oz. of tap water and 1 aspirin pill.
- 8 oz. 7-up.
- 8 oz. tap water and 1 TB Clorox bleach.
- 8 oz. tap water and 1 TB Cider vinegar and 1 TB sugar.
- 8 oz. tap water and 1 TB sugar.
- 8 oz. tap water and 1 TB of Listerine mouthwash.
- 8 oz. tap water and 1 TB Florist additive.
3. Using the best practices of florists, the flower stems will be placed under lukewarm water and cut at a 45-degree angle, then placed in the solutions. Three flowers will be placed in each of the 10 solutions. Hands will be washed after handling them.
4. According to the best practices of florists, the flower stems will be re-cut and placed in fresh solutions every 2 days.
5. The condition of the flowers will be observed once each day and recorded for 14 days, or until none remain in the vases. The number of flowers remaining in each solution will be recorded daily. Notes will be made about flowers looking wilted, brown around the edges or drooping.
6. After their condition is recorded, flowers which are wilted, brown on the edges or drooping will be removed from their containers to prevent any bacteria from hurting the others in the container. Remaining flowers will continue in the experiment.
7. A chart indicating how long each flower remained fresh in each solution will be created. Photos will also be taken to demonstrate the changes. A written journal which describes the flowers each day will also be kept.
Other Ideas on How to Make Cut Flowers Last
Other Flower Science Experiment Ideas
My daughter Mollie designed this experiment in 2015 as a 7th-grade student with the help of her dad, who is a biologist. He helped her to create the Excell graphs which really showed her data well. She won theSchool and Regional Science contests and went on to compete in Plant Sciences at the State level.
In researching for this article, I found that another girl in the 2009 California State Science Fair had done a similar experiment using roses. She also concluded that 7-up was the best flower preservative.
Here are some different ideas for conducting flower science experiments:
- Use a different cut flower like carnations, or use the greenery used in floral arrangements.
- Use 2-3 different flowers in the experiment.
- Pick just 3 solutions but use them for a whole bouquet of different flowers (which would simulate better the way that these are really used. You might see if you can get leftover wedding flowers for this.
- Since 7-up seems to have been a good floral preserver, try using several different types of soft drinks instead of the other homemade solutions.
- Use 2-3 different floral preservative solutions and test them against plain water.
- Listen to the videos and choose one of the other procedures they suggest, like cutting off leaves below the water line and experiment with how that helps or hurts cut flower life.
Use Flowers from Same Bunch
My hypothesis was incorrect that 7-Up would keep flowers alive the longest. 7-up, sugar water and floral additive all kept the flowers at Stage 1 for 7 days (the guarantee given on the flowers when they were purchased), and actually kept flowers fresh for display for 21 days.
Tap water (negative control), aspirin water and Listerine also kept the flowers fresh for 7 days. All of the other homemade solutions found in my research did worse than tap water. In fact, most of the ones in Clorox, salt, salt and vinegar and distilled water solutions reached Stage 4 in less than 7 days and showed significant wilting and color change quickly by day 4.
By 14 days, the sugar water flowers were freshest. One 7-Up flower was brown in the center, and all Floral Life flowers had brown centers.
At 21 days, the sugar water flowers still had no browning but did have a significant wilt. The 7-Up flowers had wilted. The floral additive ones had the same brown spots but the petals had not wilted.
In conclusion, contrary to the Floralife research which showed their product as better than alternatives, my experiment found that sugar water or 7-Up both work to keep flowers looking fresh the longest. Therefore, consumers and florists could save money by using sugar rather than expensive floral additives.
Myth Busting Science Experiment
Are floral preservatives worth it? A quick search online told me that Floralife makes 5-10 million dollars a year in revenue. Is that well-spent money by Florists and Consumers? Maybe not. Want to bust this myth? Try this science experiment yourself!
Sources for Floral Science Fair Projects
Jones, Rod. "Caring for Cut Flowers." Google Books. Landlinks Press, 23 Mar. 2001. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
Halevy, A. .H. “Treatments to Improve Water Balance of Cut Flowers” Acta Hort. Acta Hort. (1976) 64:223-230. http://www.actahort.org/books/64/64_29.htm.
Kumar Pun, Umed, and Kazuo Ichimura. "Role of Sugars in Senescence and Biosynthesis of Ethylene in Cut Flowers."JARQ37.4 (2003): 219-24. Web.
Nell, Terril. "Best Practices For Shipping & Storage of Fresh Cut Flowers."Molecular Therapy6.6 (2002): 697.Floralife. Web.
Owen, Marion. "Flowers: Preserving Fresh Cut Flowers--Naturally."Flowers: Preserving Fresh Cut Flowers--Naturally. PlanTea, 1 Jan. 1996. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
Ranwala, Anil. "How to Conduct Fresh Cut Flower Vase Life Experiments."Research Update 11.9 (2009):Floralife. Web.
Ranwala, Anil. “Commercial Flower Food vs. Homemade Recipes.” Research Update 9.12 (2007). Floralife. Web.
"How to Keep Flowers Fresh."How to Keep Flowers Fresh. Clorox. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
Floralife Flower Best Practices for Flower Care
Sample Data Table for Flower Solution
tap water (negative control)
sugar water (positive control)
salt and vinegar
Abstract: Which Solution Keeps Flowers Fresh Longest?
The purpose of the experiment was testing which solution keeps cut flowers fresh the longest.
Procedure: The experiment tests 10 different solutions, each of which has been claimed to keep flowers fresh. Tap water was the negative control and sugar water was the positive control. Three Bellis Perennis (Daisy) flowers were cut at a 45-degree angle and placed in 10 jars with different solutions. Following the best practices of florists, the flowers were re-cut every two days and placed in fresh solutions. They were observed daily and their appearance was evaluated on a 4-point scale, with 1 representing a fresh cut flower, and 4 representing a significantly wilted one, browned, drooping and no longer fit for display.
Results: The solutions made by adding Listerine, vinegar, salt, Clorox, and aspirin made the flowers wilt faster than tap water. Distilled water was not as good as tap water. Both 7-up and the floral additive solutions made them last for 21 days, just like the positive control, sugar water. However, flowers in the floral additive got brown spots in the center at day 14, while those in 7-up and sugar water seemed firmer and better looking than fresh cut.
Conclusion: Most homemade solutions are not as good as tap water, but both 7-up and sugar water are more effective than floral additives at keeping flowers fresh longer.