Archive for Sunday, February 8, 2004

Bright, indirect light essential to arrangements

February 8, 2004


Valentine's Day is a holiday full of breathtaking flowers and gifts that say "I love you."

While the weather may be grim and dreary outside, nothing warms the heart better than a beautiful floral arrangement. With proper care, many of these flowers will last almost as long as your love for the sweetheart that gave them to you.

If you receive a dozen roses or some other flowering plant this week, here are a few tips to help the flowers last:

For potted flowering plants, give them as much light as possible. Do not place them in direct sunlight. Bright, indirect light is best. Protect from fluctuating temperatures by placing them away from doors that lead outside, in front of heating vents or 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.

For cut flowers in a vase, most florists process and prepare their flowers such 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 just leaving them alone and enjoying them.

If your flowers arrived without a vase, it is best to cut the bottom 2 inches off of the stems while holding them under water. Place them immediately in a vase that is filled with water and a floral preservative. Most florists offer such products. When arranging the flowers, remove all the lower foliage that is to be under water. These submerged leaves promote the growth of bacteria.

If you are using a preservative solution to refill the vase, always mix the preservative as prescribed. If too diluted, the mix will not kill the bacteria that will grow in the water. If mixed too strong, you waste money and the flowers may be burnt.

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.

Finally, for all flowers you receive, remove the spent blooms immediately. They detract from the display and can shorten the life of your arrangement. And if a rose starts to wilt, remove it from the arrangement and recut the stem underwater. Submerge the entire rose in warm water. The rose should revive in one to two hours.

- Bruce Chladny is horticulture agent at K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County. For more information, call him at 843-7058 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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