Let them live: Tips to help your Valentine’s flowers last longer

(BPT) – Flowers and Valentine’s Day go together like heart and soul. Something about a bouquet of bright blooms just brings a smile to your face, and you want to stretch out the joy of your floral gift for as long as possible. Unfortunately, flowers are often as delicate as they are beautiful, so you’ll have to take some steps to ensure yours last.

The flower experts at 1-800-Flowers.com offer some tips for prolonging the life of your Valentine’s bouquet:

Keeping roses red (or pink or purple)

Roses are the number one flower choice for Valentine’s, with red, pink and purple being the most commonly given colors. Prized for their color, beauty and fragrance, roses need some special handling to look their best for as long as possible.

If your roses arrive in a gift box, open the box immediately and place the roses in tepid water until you’re ready to arrange them. Remember, roses are often shipped as tight buds so the flowers will bloom fully after they’ve reached their destination. Check to see if yours have green/white “guard petals” and if so, carefully remove them. With time and care, the buds will open into beautiful blooms.

When you’re ready to arrange your roses, fill a vase at least three-quarters full with fresh water and add flower food (follow the mixing instructions on the packet). Hold each stem under water and trim 1 to 2 inches off at an angle. Immediately add the trimmed rose to the vase. Change the water and re-cut the stems every two days or so to keep roses as fresh as possible.

If a rose starts to droop (called a “bent neck”), remove it from the arrangement, wrap it tightly in wet newspaper and leave the stem protruding. Fill a container with water and cut the drooping rose stem under the water. Leave the newspaper on, and place the rose by itself in a vase of warm water. After a few hours it should be standing straight again.

Love your tulips

Another commonly received Valentine’s flower, tulips herald spring and come in a variety of dazzling colors. Trim tulips as you would any other flower — under water and at an angle, removing an inch or so of stem.

You can easily create a full-looking arrangement for your tulips using some clear tape. Simply place thin strips of tape over the open top of a vase in a grid or checker board pattern, then arrange trimmed tulips to space them evenly throughout the grid. Add some greens, such as eucalyptus, for more color and fragrance.

If your tulips are bent, you can straighten them using the same newspaper trick that works on roses.

General flower care tips

Of course, roses and tulips are far from the only flowers given on Valentine’s. You may also receive lilies, gerbera, carnations, alstro, daisies, calla lilies or orchids — all commonly given flowers for the holiday. Generally, all cut flowers will benefit from these basic tips:

* Trim stems with a sharp knife or clippers as soon as you receive flowers. After a few days, trim again and change the water. Place your bouquet in a separate holder while you add warm water and flower food to the original vase.

* If you run out of packaged flower food, you can make your own. Fill a clear vase three-quarters full with bath-temperature warm water. Add one capful of household bleach, one capful of mouthwash and a teaspoon of sugar (or a capful of non-diet lemon-lime soda). The bleach helps kill bacteria and keeps the water clear. The mouthwash stabilizes the acidity of the water, and the sugar acts as a nutrient for the flowers.

* As you continue to trim stems and remove older flowers, your arrangement will start to look different. At this point, you can mix things up by putting flowers in a smaller container, or separating out the best looking blooms to place in a bud vase on your windowsill or night stand.

To learn more about flowers and for flower-care tips, visit 1-800-Flowers.com.

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