Valentine’s Day is about showing that special someone in your life how much you care, and what better way to express those heartfelt sentiments than a big bouquet of flowers? The only problem is, cut flowers always seem to fade too quickly, and that doesn’t seem like the right message to send to the one you love. After all, true love is meant to last forever, right? Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to keep cut flowers fresh and fragrant longer—maybe not forever, but at least as long as it takes to devour a box of cherry cordials.
Tips for the bouquet giver
When buying a bouquet from your local flower shop, look for flowers with firm petals or buds that show a little color so you know they’ll open properly. Make sure the flowers are wrapped and the stems kept moist, either with a damp paper towel or a plastic water “pod.” Most florists will provide a free package of cut flower food when you buy, but if your florist forgets, be sure to ask for one. These little packs contain all the necessary nutrients to keep your flowers looking their best for as long as possible. Also, be sure to avoid exposing the delicate blooms to extreme temperatures when leaving the store or your home with the bouquet.
If creating your own mixed bouquet, never combine daffodils (narcissi) with other cut flowers. When freshly cut, daffodils ooze a type of latex from their stems, which will cause the other flowers in the arrangement to wilt and die. In florist parlance, this substance is known as “daffodil slime.” If you’re really determined to present your sweetheart with a mixed arrangement that includes daffodils, you could try one of the cut flower foods on the market that neutralize daffodil slime.
Tips for the bouquet recipient
If you’re the lucky recipient of a beautiful cut flower bouquet this Valentine’s Day, there are steps you can take to prolong its beauty, as well:
- Cut the stems at an angle at least one inch from the bottom with a sharp knife or scissors. Angled cuts provide more surface area to take up water. Do not smash the stems. This practice damages the vessels that conduct water, promotes bacterial growth, and stresses the flowers.
- Strip off the leaves below the water level in the vase.
- Always use a clean vase to discourage the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Use lukewarm water in the vase. Warm water not only encourages the blossoms to open, but it also holds less dissolved oxygen. That means it’s less likely that air bubbles will form in the stem and block water uptake.
- Never place cut flowers near ripening fruit, such as bananas. Fruit releases small amounts of ethylene gas as it ripens, and the gas causes flowers to wilt prematurely. Aging flowers do the same thing and should be removed from the bouquet promptly.
- Avoid putting copper coins, aspirin, or other homemade formulas in the vase water. They generally do more harm than good.
- Avoid placing the vase in direct sunlight or a drafty area. Both environments will shorten the life of your bouquet.
- Top off the water frequently, adding the correct proportion of cut flower food. ❦