The Innocent Mistake That’s Causing Your Flowers to Die Much Faster Than They Should

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Half the point of getting fresh flowers is showing them off: on Instagram, in the background of your Zoom calls, on your kitchen table…hold up. That last one may not be the best move after all, particularly if you’re positioning that bouquet next to a bowl of fruit. You’re creating a tablescape like you see in home magazines, you think. But in doing so, you’re actually dooming those buds to an early death.

“Fruit gives off an odorless invisible gas called ethylene, which is deadly for flowers,” explains Danielle Mason, vice president of consumer marketing at Teleflora. (This gas is harmless to humans and pets and shouldn’t be confused with ethylene glycol, which is a key ingredient in antifreeze and is highly toxic.)

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Ethylene gases can speed up a fruit’s ripening process, which is why you’ll hear of people recommending that you stick an unripe banana or tomato in a paper bag. The gases get trapped inside, causing the produce to age faster. With fresh-cut flowers, that’s the opposite of what you want, so even positioning them near fruit—particularly apples and pears, which emit more ethylene than, say, cherries—can shorten their lifespan.

Your best bet? Let your arrangement be the focal point of the table, away from produce—and direct sunlight, which can also prematurely age your blooms. That sensible bowl of Honeycrisps can resume its place of prominence a week from now, after your Dahlias have run their course.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...