Turns out this old wives’ tale is true!
Tricks for making flowers stay fresh and look good are a dime a dozen. Whatever wives’ tale you’ve fallen back on to keep your blooms looking fresh-cut and lively, the aim of all of them is the same: to keep the bacteria, yeasts, and fungi that suck the life right out of your flowers from growing in their water. Some say a little shot of vodka will get the job done; others argue that aspirin is the answer. Bleach, apple cider vinegar, and even hairspray have also been touted as flower-savers.
But the cheapest way to keep your Easter flower arrangement, fresh-from-the-garden blossoms, or Mother’s Day bouquet looking fresh? Dropping a copper penny into the vase.
The reason pennies are considered a smart way to keep flowers alive longer is because copper is a fungicide, so it naturally kills off those pesky bacteria and fungi that are trying to camp out in your flowers’ vase and shorten the life span of your stems.
But before you empty out your piggy bank, take note: When it comes to their flower power, not all pennies are created equal.
Pennies minted before 1982 were made of 95% copper, while the pennies we use now—those made after 1982—are made of 97.5% zinc and are given only a thin copper coating. See where this is going?
It follows, then, that the pennies made mostly of copper are better at killing off the fungi and keeping flowers looking fresh longer than the mostly-zinc coins that have just a little copper in their composition.
So there you have it! Spend your new pennies, and save the old ones for preserving your blooms.
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Do you have any tricks for making fresh-cut stems stay alive longer? Share them with us in the comments.