Fresh flowers can brighten a room (and a face) at any time of year, but more bouquets are given on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year. A few simple steps will ensure blooms that last their longest.
Sharon Reynolds, president of Owen’s Flower Shop, 846 Ind., says her store gives a care card with each bouquet to help recipients keep their flowers looking good. Their flowers are also delivered in water, and roses with a special rose food.
“Roses should easily last seven to 10 days if you follow our recommendations,” Reynolds tells me. Some other flowers, particularly in mixed arrangements, might not last as long but can easily be removed from the bouquet as they fade.
Arrangements and loose flower stems that are not delivered in water should be kept in a cool location until you can get them in a vase. Holding the cut ends of the stem(s) under running water, cut about one-half inch from the bottom and place the flower directly in a vase of warm water to which cut-flower food has been added. Cutting the stems under running water will keep the tissue from drawing in air that can make the flowers wilt or fade more quickly.
Flower food often comes with flowers, or it is available from many florists. Since there are different kinds, always read and follow label instructions for use.
Once the flowers are in water, Reynolds says the most important thing you can do to make them last is to check the level in the vase daily. If flowers are in floral foam, make sure the foam stays saturated.
"The roses we send out drink a lot of water. After about the second day, you are going to have to add water," she says.
Water clarity is also important.
“The flower food we use contains an antibacterial chemical to help keep the water clear longer,” Reynolds says, “but if the water does start looking cloudy, you need to replace it.” When changing the water, cut an additional inch or two from the bottom of each stem and add fresh flower food to the new water.
Reynolds also recommends keeping fresh cut flowers out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source. She laughingly mentions console television sets. “People used to like to set their flowers on top of the TV, and they would get too hot.” New technology is eliminating that problem, at least.
Despite their preference for cool air, roses and other flowers can freeze if left outside or in the car too long, so take care to protect them before delivery.
Reynolds says that on a good Valentine’s Day, her store may distribute four to five thousand roses.
— Jennifer Smith is the Douglas County Extension Agent – Horticulture for K-State Research and Extension. She can be reached at 843-7058.