Milk or aspirin? Do they really work with flowers and plants?

The myth of aspirin, milk and their use as fertilizers with flowers and plants has always been one of the doubts and curiosities that pass through the minds of more or less skilled gardeners.

For years on our site, the articles dedicated to these topics have been the most read and commented on and, for this reason, we have decided to dedicate a single article to some experiment that compares these particular and unusual DIY “fertilizers”.

On a Sunday in June, we started our first experiment with calla lilies, glasses and, of course, milk, water and aspirin.

                          The conditions

Before starting this small experiment, it is good to specify what are all the conditions (place climate, etc.) in which everything was done: we are in late June and outside it is getting quite hot, with maximum peaks of 28-30 ° C.
However in the house (where the glasses with calla lilies have been placed) it is quite cool and the temperature never exceeds 24 ° C.
The flowers are in front of a very bright window which in the late afternoon is exposed to direct sunlight (the window is partially closed, the glass open).
The calla lilies, as mentioned, were grown in the garden and come from the same group of tubers, same vase, same planting period.

21st June 2020

From a vase in the garden I cut 3 equal calle but of different color. They are all from the same pot but from three different bulbs (they are part of a stock of five bulbs that I took in Holland a few months ago).

On the left the yellow calla is immersed in a glass of milk, the white one in the middle is in a glass full of water in which I have dissolved a 400mg Aspirin C, while the third on the right, purple, is in a glass of tap water.

22nd June 2020

After 24 hours from the start of the experiment everything still seems calm.
Only one thing seems clear: the calla is a flower that resists well after being cut.

But if we take a closer look, some small differences can already be seen:

  1. The purple calla immersed in water is perhaps the least fresh of the three and, moreover, the water level in the glass is the same as yesterday morning.
  2. The white calla still looks beautiful, although it has slightly lost its pure white. The water level (with aspirin) is the one that dropped most of all. Compared to yesterday, in fact, the level of the water / aspirin mix has dropped by approx. 3-4 mm.
  3. The yellow calla seems to have just been cut and has not changed in the least since yesterday. The level of milk in the glass has dropped by about 1 mm or less.

23rd June

We are on the third day and our little experiment with milk, calla lilies and aspirin has started for 72 hours now.
The three flowers still look good but it is the contents of the glasses that has changed in these 3 days.

  1. The purple calla in the glass of water is perhaps the one that shows some slight signs of slowing down: it is bending due to its weight but still remains in good shape. The water level does not go down.
  2. The white calla in the glass with water and aspirin is still well supported. The water level in the glass is the one that drops faster and now the color of the water is taking a mixed light greenish yellow color.
  3. The yellow calla dipped in milk is still the most beautiful. The milk in the glass continues to drop slowly and also to thicken. But this is normal after 3 days.

24th June

On the fourth day, we covered the three glasses with a little tinfoil as, especially the milk, it was starting to give off a bad smell.
The flowers begin to show new, obvious, changes:

  1. The white calla in the glass with water and aspirin has completely changed its coloring and has now turned light green, as well as the water in which it is contained. This flower also showed a subsidence on the base and, for this reason, it is now the “lowest” of all. The water level has gone down again.
  2. The purple calla has given up very little and is slowly turning green. The water level in the glass does not drop.
  3. The yellow calla dipped in the glass of milk continues to show no sign of slowing down. The milk level drops slowly. For now this flower wins over everyone.

25th June 2020

Fifth day since the beginning of our little experiment and everything seems quite unchanged compared to yesterday.
Let’s change the perspective of the photo to show a little better the color of the water in the glass with aspirin and also the state of the calla for “whole”.
Otherwise there are few noticeable changes. These flowers are likely to stay here for many days!

26th June 2020

Day 6 from the beginning and everything still seems calm.
From this perspective it is better to see how the three flowers are slowly giving way because of their weight.

  1. Meanwhile, the milk in the glass in the yellow calla is slowly thickening and becoming cheese and, perhaps, for this reason, this flower, which until now has always been fresh and beautiful, begins to show some small signs of drying.
  2. The green calla (white at the beginning) looks like a glass flower and, although it has yielded to the base, it has now colored the contents of the glass of water and aspirin of an intense yellow.
  3. The purple calla in the glass with the water remains stable and shows no obvious sign of change.

26 June ( afternoon)

It is 4..20 pm on the 6th day and, when I return home, here is the first big change since the beginning of the experiment!

The calla in the glass with water and aspirin had the second collapse and came out almost completely from the glass.
Since it is still a little immersed in the liquid, I wait to remove it.
-From now on I will update this article whenever there will be changes.

27th June 2020

As expected, the green calla fell out of the glass with water and aspirin this morning.
By now it was folded in two places and, although the flower was well preserved after these first 7 days, it still could not resist for a long time in this position.

The mix in the glass, now an intense yellow, smells of a very strong acid and, perhaps it is not the right place to keep a flower for too many days. The level has dropped by about 1 cm compared to the first day and perhaps it was this that made the flower too heavy and unbalanced.
Maybe aspirin lends itself better to larger flowers or plants!

We eliminate this flower and continue with milk (now reduced to cheese) and water.

29 June 2020

The heat begins to be felt and, even at home, the temperature has now reached 27 ° C.
The purple calla dipped in water is folded at almost 90 ° but still resists, while the yellow calla dipped in milk, now transformed into cheese, remains in a good shape.

After 9 days the milk level dropped by about 3 mm, while the water level seems stable and equal to that of the first day.

2nd July 2020

As happened with water with aspirin, also with milk, when it begins to become too deteriorated, it also ends up damaging the flower in which it is contained.
And so, this morning, the yellow calla also began to deteriorate and turn brown.
The milk now gives off an annoying smell and, in this state, can do nothing but damage.
In the meantime, the purple calla, despite having yielded from the beginning, remains immersed in water using very little.
The first conclusion would seem to indicate that milk (above all) and aspirin are useful to prolong the conservation of the flowers but, as is obvious, they deteriorate much faster than water over time, bringing the flower to a sudden decay.
The solution may be to change milk or water with aspirin every week but the costs are certainly higher than what would happen with water.

3rd July 2020

13th day from the beginning of our little experiment.
But we are probably now at the end.
The yellow calla is almost completely brown and the milk in the state of maximum composition.
The purple calla, on the other hand, is bent at almost 90 °, now rather deteriorated and no longer shows particular signs of change.

4th Jule 2020

Almost 2 weeks after the start of our little experiment, we decide to end everything.
The yellow calla dipped in milk is now almost completely brown and the milk, transformed into a block of hard and smelly cheese immersed in a white and transparent liquid, gives off an almost unbearable bad smell.
The purple calla immersed in water has lost all its beauty for several days and remains defenseless and folded.

                    Our observations

The milk has certainly preserved the calla contained in the glass best of all (water and water with aspirin) but, being a liquid easily degradable with time and, especially with the heat of this season, it had a sudden collapse after about ten days, bringing with it the freshness of the flower which wilted as soon as the milk began to degrade.
The calla immersed in water with aspirin has had a partial and faster decay but it is the one that, absorbing water faster, has also weighed down more quickly. Perhaps this could explain why she folded twice before falling out of the glass.

The purple calla in the glass of water gave way slowly degrading little by little. Perhaps the traditional method of flower in water still remains the cheapest, most fragrant and safest.
But if you want to dare, you want to extend the life of your cut flowers and you have a lot of milk at home (so you can change it before it deteriorates), this solution is perhaps the best!

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