Everyone loves the beauty and scent of fresh flowers – but how do you make sure that the flowers you select for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day last well beyond February 14? It’s a two-step process. First, pick flowers that look good as they open and change over time.
Roses are the most popular floral gift at Valentine’s – about 200 million of them will be delivered within a week of February 14, 2015 — but tulips, the heart-shaped anthurium plant, and amaryllis are also popular in-season additions to Valentine’s Day arrangements. All of these will look good as their shape changes as they open, displaying their charms over a week or more. Genestra, Oriental lilies, stargazer lilies, and hyacinth have wonderful fragrances that will also subtly change over time.
And don’t forget to include orchids, tropical flowers and alstromeria (Peruvian lilies) in a bouquet to extend its life. But no matter what kind of flowers you pick, the key to making your arrangement last is to avoid letting harmful bacteria build up, and to refresh your arrangement regularly.
Making Your Valentine’s Day Flowers Last Longer
The number one reason that cut flowers droop and turn brown too soon is bacteria. To prevent bacteria from building up in the water, it should be changed at least every other day.
When you change the water, rinse and re-cut the stems – cutting them slightly, at an angle, to expose a fresh part of the stem to the fresh water.
Blooms Today includes a packet of anti-bacterial powder with each order. Make sure you put that in the first vase of water you use as it will kill any bacteria that might have built up before you received your flowers.
When you change the water for the first time, add 1/4 teaspoon bleach per quart (1 liter) of vase water along with 1 teaspoon of sugar. The bleach and sugar mixture keeps the water from getting cloudy and inhibits bacteria growth. Warning: don’t add bleach if your bouquet includes Dutch hydrangea, which doesn’t react well to bleach.
If you have hydrangeas in your bouquet, or simply don’t like the smell of bleach, here are some other alternatives that will help prolong the beauty of your Valentine’s Day flowers. Use whatever preservative you have around the house – each of these has been proven to extend the life of cut flower arrangements, so pick the one that’s easiest for you to use.
- Soda: A quarter cup of soda in a vase full of cut flowers will help to make blooms last longer. If you have a clear vase, make sure you use a clear soda like Sprite or 7-Up.
- Hair Spray: The photographer’s best friend, hairspray can preserve flowers just the way it preserves a hairstyle. Stand a foot away from the bouquet, and give them a quick spray on the undersides of the leaves and petals.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar with the vase water before adding the flowers. Be sure to change the water (with more vinegar and sugar, of course) every other day for longevity.
- Vodka: Adding a few drops of vodka or any clear spirit to the vase water with a teaspoon of sugar will provide nourishment to the flowers similar to what it would have gotten without being cut, and also retard bacteria growth. Refresh the vodka and sugar every other day when you change the water.
- Aspirin: Aspirin is a tried-and-true way to keep roses and other flowers fresh longer. Crush an aspirin and mix it into the water before adding your flowers. Don’t forget to change the water every other day, and trim the stems slightly each time you add water and fresh aspirin.
Someone put a lot of thought into selecting the beautiful floral arrangement you received on Valentine’s Day, so take the extra steps required to keep your flowers strong and beautiful well beyond Valentine’s Day!