You don't need to have an occasion to have cut flowers but they are a traditional part of our culture. Just within the past month, we have received them for sympathy, sent them for a birthday, and given them for our daughter's theatrical performance. Now with Valentines Day around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some tips for maximizing the life of your arrangements. By the way, these ideas work for cut flowers from your own garden as well.
The first thing you need is a clean container, if your flowers did not come with one. Any amount of bacteria will shorten the life of your bouquets. According to the Clorox website, put 1/4 t bleach per quart of warm water in your vase. I know that sounds a little crazy but do it.
If the flowers came with a little packet of preservative, use it. The warm water helps it dissolve.
If the flowers didn't come with preservative, there are several home remedies. Here is a simple one from gardenguides.com:
1 qt warm water
1 t sugar
1 t bleach
2 t lemon or lime juice
"This combination of ingredients fights bacteria, aids in the flower cell metabolism and ensures that the plants continue to absorb water." (gardenguides.com)
Next, cut the bottom of the the flower stems at an angle. The fresh cut will help it draw up more water than the old cut which will have sealed up a bit. Also, the angle allows more water than a straight cut.
When you put the flowers in the vase, be sure no leaves are under the water line. The reason is that the decaying leaves will hasten the demise of the blooms.
Keep the flowers away from direct sunlight and anywhere they will get too hot.
Check the water daily. If it gets cloudy, change it and recut the stems.
Don't be afraid to rearrange your flowers. There's nothing sacred about the florist's arrangement, especially after blooms have "gone over", in the lingo of Downton Abbey.
Often if an arrangement is made with several different kinds flowers, one type will wilt faster than the others. Just take them out. Also, if you have roses, remove the outer petals that have turned which will reveal a fresh flower.
I sincerely hope that all of you who are expecting flowers this Valentines Day will receive them. But if you don't have someone special in your life, buy them for yourself. There's no shame in that!