Make those flowers last

So he shelled out a bunch of money for a dozen red roses for you for Valentine’s Day. Now what? Put them under a grow lamp? Add fertilizer to the water? Help!

Two local experts offered up some tips for making your beautiful bouquet last beyond Feb. 14, including debunking some of the myths about what to do and not to do. Just how much care goes into your flowers before they go out the door of the flower shop might also be a revelation.

James Lowe, manager of Lowe’s Floral and Garden Center, said explained that their flowers are bought from around the world and upon arrival at the floral center, are cleaned to shorten bacteria growth. The stems are then freshly cut and placed into a high sugar and acid solution to push food and water up to the stem as quickly as possible. Then they are placed in a hydration solution to hold in the coolers. Inside the coolers, there is a filtration system to suck out the ethylene so that the hormone doesn’t kill the flowers, Lowe said. Finally, the flowers receive another fresh cut and are placed into performance solution so that they’re ready to open up for the customer.

It’s important to know how the flowers are treated when they arrive to you, Lowe said. If the flowers arrived in a box, they may have been frozen, he added. Other things to do to make the flowers last include making sure the vase has sufficient water, adding water when you receive the flowers, watering the flowers every day and adding the packet of flower food to the water every day until it’s gone, he continued. When the flower food is gone, Lowe recommends that you add clean water.

If the water in the vase turns cloudy, Lowe said, immediately dump out the water and fill with cool, clean water and trim the stems. Trim off half an inch no more than an inch, he added.

“Roses hate drafts and heat sources,” Lowe said, so he recommended that they be kept away from those factors.

Niki Brose, owner of Flower Central, also recommends not keeping flowers in warm places to help them last longer.

For people who receive flowers at work, Lowe recommends finding something to put over the flowers when leaving the building, like a plastic bag. He also suggested starting the car ahead of time if it’s cold outside. “Really baby them,” Lowe added. “It only takes a few seconds to freeze flowers.”

Classic blooms like carnations, daisies and gladiolas tend to last longer, Lowe said, whereas hydrangeas, Gerbera daisies and bulb flowers like tulips and irises are fragile.

A common mistake that people tend to make when trying to make their flowers last longer is using a home remedy like putting aspirin or a penny in the water, Lowe said. Other mistakes include placing flowers next to heat sources and drafts as well as not watering enough.

Brose listed dumping out the water that was already in the vase with the flowers and filling the vase back up again with new water as another common mistake people tend to make when trying to take care of flowers. “It takes five seconds for the stem to close up and seal over and they won’t take water again,” she added. Also, cutting the stems with a scissors is a mistake, Brose said. She recommends they be cut with a knife because a scissors will crush the stem, resulting in the flower not drinking the water.

While roses are the more popular flower to give as a Valentine’s Day gift, there are other flower varieties that have also been popular. Lowe said stargazer lilies, tulips and Gerbera daisies have been popular, as well as mixed arrangements that are longer lasting. Other popular varieties have included garden flowers like lilies, snapdragons or Gerbera daisies that come in Valentine’s Day colors.

At Flower Central, Brose said hydrangeas, daisies and orchids have been popular flowers for Valentine’s Day. “We also have plants that people have been ordering for Valentine’s Day, blooming plants and orchid plants,” she added.