With Valentine's Day just around the corner, loved ones are in a desperate search for that perfect gift of love. One popular expression of affection is a beautiful bouquet of freshly cut flowers.
So if you are one of the many to receive a dozen roses or some other flowering plant this week, here are a few tips to help the flowers last as long as possible.
l Flower arrangements set in green florist foam should be watered daily, not just when the foam feels dry. Water is continuously being lost through the cut flowers and through evaporation.
To ensure a long life, it is best if there is water standing in the holding container. Properly cared for, these arrangements can last up to two weeks.
l For potted flowering plants, give them as much light as possible. Do not place them in direct sunlight, but bright, indirect light, is best.
Provide protection from large temperature fluctuations. This means placing them away from doors that lead outside, in front of heating vents and on top of the television.
Make sure the pot is well-drained so the roots do not stand in water. And if the plant is in a plastic or foil pot cover, temporarily remove it while you water. If well cared for, many potted plants can last four weeks or more.
l For cut flowers already in a vase, most florists process and prepare their flowers so that you should not have to re-cut the stems. In fact, more damage can be done by trying to remove the flowers to re-cut them than if just left alone and enjoyed.
If your flowers arrived without a vase, it is best to cut the bottom two inches off of the stems and place them immediately in water.
Some florists promote the use of a flower preservative to help prolong the life of cut flowers. If you are using a preservative to refill the vase solution, always mix as prescribed. If too weak, it will not kill the bacteria that will grow in the water. If mixed too strong, then you waste money and the flowers may be burned.
l As a final thought, for all flowers you receive, remove the spent blooms immediately. They detract from the display and can shorten the life of your arrangement.
Valentine's Day is a holiday full of breathtaking flowers and gifts that say "I love you." And while the weather may be grim and dreary outside, little warms the heart better than a beautiful floral arrangement.
Remember to care for your flowers properly so they will last almost as long as your love for the sweetheart that gave them to you.
Bruce Chladny is horticulture agent at K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County. For more gardening information call the Master Gardener Hotline, 843-7058, between 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday or Friday.