How Long Do Cut Carnations Live in Distilled Water?


With proper care and handling, it is possible to extend the life of cut carnations up to a month in distilled water after removing them from their natural food source. In addition to proper care, carnations need three things in order to survive once removed from the root, a bactericide, a food source and an acidifier.


A bactericide is a chemical substance that destroys all or most bacteria. Examples of bactericides are household bleach and aspirin. Use one or the other.


In order to most closely match a flower's natural food source, some sort of simple sugar should be added to the distilled water. Examples are table sugar and sugars found in common lemon and/or lime sodas. Use one or the other.


The acidifier helps maintain the water's pH level, providing a healthier environment for the flowers. Types of acidifiers are lemon juice and vinegar. Choose one to use.

Prepackaged Packets

It should be noted that prepackaged floral food packets from any local florist contain all three of the above substances. This takes the guesswork out of figuring out what household products to use, in addition to calculating the appropriate amount of each substance.

Handle With Care

No less important is the care of the cut carnations before and after placing them in a vase. Warm distilled water is easier for the flowers to "drink," as the molecules are easier to absorb. Cut stems under water (using distilled water) at a 45-degree angle, and immediately submerse the stems in the water solution in the vase. Remove all leaves that would remain below the surface of the water, as they provide a breeding ground for bacteria. Change the water and trim the stems at least every other day. Keep the carnations away from drafts (hot or cold), and avoid placing them near ripening fruit. As fruit ripens, it emits a gas that is toxic to cut flowers. Handle the flowers as little as possible.


  • "Life Beyond the Earth, a Scientific Experiment in Prolonging the Life of Fresh-Cut Carnations"; K. Gage; 2010
  • FTD: Floral Care
  • Ramsey Ad Agency: Your How-to Guide for Cut Flowers
Keywords: carnations in distilled water, life of cut carnations, maintain cut carnations