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A classic tip to revive wilted cut flowers is to plunge the stem into boiling water for some period of time, and then back into cold water.

What process is occurring that causes the flower to be "revived"?

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@jmusser A cursory google search shows that this is method is commonly described. – kmm Jul 7 '14 at 2:42
A google search also shows, that this is done to "remove air locks". Maybe the hot water is supposed to widen the capillaries and thus water flow can be restored at places where they were blocked by air bubbles. – skymningen Jul 7 '14 at 11:07
I do not know about "reviving" but the process you just described is called "hardening". I do not know how or why it works, but the idea is that after this process the plant will take up more water than before. – mathgenius May 7 at 12:25

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I could not find any scientific papers that have done research into this phenomenon but the general reason given for wilted flowers to being resuscitated is given as the hot water being absorbed faster and I quote

Florists use warm water only for resuscitating wilted flowers, because warm water is absorbed quickly. For restoring wilted stems, hot water (110 degrees Fahrenheit) is recommended. For woody or badly wilted stems, very hot water (180 to 200 degrees) is better. Florists then move them into a refrigerator (reference).

The reason for absorbtion faster is given as

luke warm water in a vase arrangement because warm water is “thinner” (has fewer air bubbles) and moves up the stem faster than cold water (reference) and Warm water molecules move faster than cold water molecules and so can be absorbed by flowers with greater ease (reference).

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as a physicist I can confirm there is no such thing. Warm water is not "thinner", the temperature of the water (if in normal human range) is in no way tied to the amount of air bubbles in it. After reviewing the "ramsey" reference I am sorry to say that person has no idea what he is talking about, because in addition he states that warm water has more oxygen in it. Uh, no, tiny temperature changes do not alter chemical compositions, thank you very much! Finally warm water molecules move slightly faster than cold water molecules, which, in any event, has no effect on water uptake by plants. – mathgenius May 7 at 12:31
@mathgenius Thank you for your valuable information. – The Last Word May 13 at 6:28

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