Abstract We report the effects of hydrogen sulfide (H 2S) on flower senescence in various species of cut flowers. H 2S was found to delay flower opening and senescence in cut flowers and branches from Erigeron annuus (L.), Euonymus maackii Rupr., Hibiscus syriacus L., Liriope spicata (Thump.), Loropetalum chinense (R. Br.), Punica granatum L., Rosa chinensis Jacq., and Salix matsudana Koidz. Cut explants of these plants were cultured in solution containing different concentrations of the H 2S donor, NaHS. H 2S donor treatment prolonged the vase time of cut flowers and prevented senescence in a dose-dependent manner. We measured the levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) as an indicator of oxidative damage to cells and showed that it was inversely related to endogenous H 2S concentration in explants. Flowers that had senesced showed higher levels of MDA and lower amounts of H 2S. Furthermore, NaHS treatment increased the activities of catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), ascorbate peroxidase (APX) and guaiacol peroxidase (POD), and sustained much lower levels of H 2O 2 and O 2 − in cut flowers of E. annuus and explant leaves of S. matsudana. The present study implies that H 2S is involved in improving longevity of cut flowers and functions in activity of antioxidant enzymes in plants.