Keep that Valentine's Day bouquet fresh

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If Valentine's Day brought cut flowers your way, extend their life by following this combined advice from the Society of American Florists and the horticulturists at Kansas State University:

* For cellophane-wrapped bouquets, boxed roses and other loose stems --

1. If you didn't get them into a flower-food solution right away, keep the flowers in a cool place.

2. Fill a clean, deep vase with warm water. Following package directions, add cut-flower food (typically included with bouquets from a florist).

3. Remove the leaves from the part of each stem that will be below the waterline. (Leaves sitting in water promote bacterial growth.)

4. Re-cut the stems at an angle with a sharp knife under water. (This allows the newly exposed stem tissue to draw in water, rather than air.)

5. Place the flowers in the food solution-filled vase you've prepared.

* For all cut flowers, including those that came in arrangements

1. Keep flowers in a cool spot (65-72 F). Avoid direct sunlight, heating vents, cold drafts, and sites directly under ceiling fans or on top of televisions or radiators. (Televisions give off heat, causing flowers to dehydrate.)

2. Add fresh warm water daily, to keep the vase filled or floral foam soaked.

3. If the water turns cloudy, replace it immediately. If possible, re-cut stems by removing 1 to 2 inches with a sharp knife under water

4. If a rose starts to wilt, remove it and re-cut the stem under water. Then submerge the entire rose in warm water. It should revive and be ready to go back into a vase or arrangement in one to two hours.

Editor's Note: Delta George is a K-State Research and Extension agriculture and 4-H extension agent assigned to Bourbon County. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720.