If a bouquet of flowers is in your future for Valentine’s Day, here are some tips to keep it fresh and long lasting.
Always start with a clean vase. If it is difficult to clean, denture cleanser tablets foam out water rings or other debris. A baby bottle brush also is a useful tool. A dirty vase feeds bacteria, which destroy cut flowers.
Remove any leaves that will be in water in the vase. Submerged leaves rot, create bacteria and speed up the deterioration of flowers.
Use a sharp knife or scissors to remove one-half inch of the stem at a 45-degree angle, under water. This prevents an airlock from forming, which blocks the stem’s ability to take up water. Cut bulb flowers do better with just an inch or two of water in the vase rather than filled.
Roses get limp, bend over or don’t open because an airlock is in their stems. If the time between when roses are cut and they are delivered to the florist is too long without water, the flower heads also will bend. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about the latter, and it’s difficult to know whether the rose is suffering from an airlock or poor handling in transportation. The best advice is to give the stem a new cut and hope for the best.
Do not place a vase of flowers in direct sun or expose it to heat sources, such as a register or television. These speed up the deterioration of the bouquet. Flowers will last longer if placed in a cool, bright spot, such as a north window.
If floral food comes with the bouquet, use it. With or without floral food, change the water every two or three days. Re-cut the stems, as needed, by about one-half inch when you change the water. Do not use floral food with cut bulbs, such as tulips, lilies and daffodils.