Proper care keeps Valentine’s flowers around longer

Published 9:17 pm Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lenette Britt, owner of Lenette’s Floral Design, arranges a bouquet of roses and other flowers at her store on Main Street. Britt advises that adding bleach to the flowers’ water will keep the water clear and will keep the water from smelling bad.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many of us will be giving or receiving flowers.

“Flowers just make people happy,” said Lenette Britt, owner of Lenette’s Floral Designs on North Main Street. “Flowers brighten a person’s day.”

There are a number of things to keep in mind when caring for fresh flowers, and different types of flowers require different types of care, according to Rob Curtis, owner of Pinners Flower Shop on West Washington Street.

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But most people receive roses on Valentine’s Day, Curtis said. “Other arrangements are not as difficult to care for.”

Roses require special care. With roses, you need to pay attention to the water and temperature, he said. “The key to keeping roses as healthy as possible is to watch the water. Roses drink a lot of water.”

According to Curtis, you should fill a rose vase with water an inch from the top. Roses drink continuously, and the water can drop an inch overnight.

When adding water to loose roses, give stems a fresh cut at an angle and add moderately warm water to start with to begin the hydration process.

Roses will not begin drinking water without the stimulation of the warm water, he said.

Once the hydration process begins, the temperature of the water becomes less important. However, cold water can shock the flowers’ systems, causing them to close up.

Roses tend to bloom faster in heat, he said. “Once they bloom out, they die out.”

Curtis advises to keep roses out of direct sunlight and to also keep them from heat sources.

“For optimum shelf life, keep them in a cool place,” he said. “Roses do better in a cool place.”

To further prolong the shelf life of roses and other flowers, it is important to keep the water fresh. If the water begins to look cloudy, milky or it changes color it is a good idea to change it, Curtis and Britt agreed.

Britt said one trick to keeping water fresh is to add a small amount of Clorox to the water. This will keep the water free of bacteria and will keep the water from smelling bad, she said.

Adding a few drops of Clorox to a regular size vase can help to keep the water clear, Curtis said.

Keep the leaves above the water or trim off the leaves, Britt said. “You don’t want to have leaves in the water; it will cause bacteria.”

When replacing water you can keep the flowers in the vase or take them out. When you replace the roses, it is important to use warm water again to re-start the hydration process, Curtis said.

If the flowers are drooping or curling, it is a sign that the flowers are not properly hydrating, Curtis said. It is a good idea to cut the flowers if they begin drooping, but not more than an inch from the bottom, Curtis said.

If the stems are really long, it may be a good idea to cut more. The shorter the distance from the bloom and the water, the faster the rose will hydrate, he said.

Britt also recommends feeding the flowers to increase their shelf life.

You can use the plant food packs that florists provide, aspirin or even a teaspoon of sugar for an average sized vase.

Most of the packaged preservatives are 80 percent sugar anyway, Curtis said.

“They’re very easy to take care of — just make sure the water is clean and [flowers are] cut at an angle so they can drink properly,” Britt said.