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Extend the Life of Your Valentine’s Flowers

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching,  and although chocolate is a great gift, flowers are just as enjoyable, don’t add calories, and may last longer. If your Valentine gives you fresh cut flowers, you will want to keep them beautiful for as long as possible.

The lifespan of flowers is most affected by lack of water for the stem, foliage and flowers. Loss of water may occur due to low humidity, high temperature and air circulation. The end of the stem can also become plugged with air or bacteria, preventing enough water from being taken up by the stem to supply the top.

The first step after receiving flowers that come in a box or sleeve instead of a vase of water is to remove any leaves that will be below the water line in the vase you choose.  Leaves will rot and deteriorate in the water and can create a good environment for bacteria and fungi, which will block the vascular system and inhibit the uptake of water. 

Make sure the vase is clean. If in doubt, wash the container in a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water. Rinse thoroughly before adding flowers. Fill the vase with warm, unsoftened water (most flowers take in warm water more efficiently than cold) and add the preservative packet if provided.  The preservatives prevent bacterial and fungal growth and contain sugar to feed the flowers. Home remedies such as adding aspirin or pennies to the water do not prolong the life of the flower.

Recut the flower stems before placing and arranging them in the vase. Cut the stems at an angle using a sharp knife or scissors. Using a sharp tool will avoid crushing the vascular system, and cutting at a slant will open more stem area for water absorption and prevent the stem from sitting flush on the bottom of the vase preventing water uptake. 

Once you have made the perfect arrangement place the flowers in a cool location out of direct sunlight, hot spots or heat drafts to prolong their life.  At night you may want to place the arrangement in a cool place or even the fridge to extend its life.  However flowers and fruit should not be stored together.  Check the water level daily and replenish as needed. If the water becomes cloudy or leaves fall into the water, empty the vase, rinse, and replace with fresh warm water.

A little care can go a long way with cut flowers, so take care of your Valentine’s Day flowers or any other cut flowers you receive throughout the year to extend your enjoyment.