Friday, April 25, 2014

Making Flowers Last

Tulips are one of my favorite flowers because in my mind they are the perfect expression of spring. No matter what time of year I see them at the deli, I cannot help but think of their colorful heads pushing up through the brand-new, florescent green grass of early spring. To me, they are simply the cheeriest of all the flowers.

Unfortunately, cut tulips rarely last for a day before they droop, and even more rarely last a week before they look too sad to keep, so I never buy them. I love having flowers in the house, but it always feels a little decadent to me since we live in a city and cannot cut them from our own garden. A flower with the short lifespan of a tulip feels even more indulgent.

So, having expressed this before, you can imagine my surprise when my wife brought a bunch of beautiful yellow tulips home for me last week, saying she chose them because I wouldn't choose them for myself. Too sweet for words.

Intent on keeping them perky for as long as possible, I've been pulling out all the tricks I know for cut flowers, and so far it's been working (fingers crossed!).

At the top of the list is to change the water regularly, using lukewarm water. Water for cut flowers needs to be changed, not just added to, at least every other day because it helps to keep the stems healthy. With each water change, the vase should be rinsed, and after every few changes, the stems should be trimmed. It's obvious when the stems should be trimmed, because the bottoms become discolored. Cutting off this rotting part allows the water to be absorbed into the flower.

If one is using flower food, more should be mixed in with each water change. One whole packet of flower food does not need to be dumped in to start -- using a forth of the packet with each new batch of water will suffice.

And if one is lucky enough that her flowers last longer than the packet of flower food? Try using either a small drop of bleach, a squirt of lemon juice, a drop of vinegar, or a bit of sugar. All of these options will help keep the stems from clogging up with bacteria, allowing more water to get to the flowers, and keeping them pretty for as long as possible.

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"There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- God damn it, you've got to be kind."
-Kurt Vonnegut