Keeping Flowers Fresh

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
• Don’t crowd the vase. Choose one tall enough to support them and wide enough to accommodate the stems without cramming them in. • Avoid crushing the stems when you cut them. Use a sharp, single-bladed knife if at all possible. Scissors or pruners are ok, if they are sharp. • Use fresh cuts and cool water. Fill the vase and let the water run so you can cut the stems while they are in the water and get them into the vase with as little hydration as humanly possible. If that won’t work lay the stems on a cutting board, make fresh cuts and immediately put them into the vase. • Daily maintenance. Sure as you brush your teeth to clean them, those flowers need clean water. Slip them out, make fresh cuts, and change the water daily for longest vase life. • Add a preservative but don’t count on it. Here are some of the potions I have used over the years. They all help and work on the same principle: anything you can do to keep the plant’s stem open is a good thing. o Packaged products often included with purchased bouquets o One aspirin tablet o A splash of 7up or Sprite o A spoonful of sugar o One shotglass of vodka or gin Whatever is in bloom is a candidate for my table, but some garden flowers can wilt fast. Take a bucket or tall plastic glass of water into the garden and drop each stem in as you cut it to avoid dehydration. That water will usually be too warm to use in the vase, so use it to water something else when you take the flowers out. And by the way, most anything that holds water can hold flowers, including children’s earliest efforts at pottery. I collect vases because I am not a designer. Frankly, I can overlook my pitiful attempts to arrange flowers when the vase is nice. In my mind’s eye, my grown children are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youngsters standing in the kitchen with flower stems clutched tight in little fists. We’d pick just the right vase or sometimes dishes for stems snatched a bit short, and decorate the dinner table. The flowers picked so lovingly transformed our supper table into a special place, even if leftovers were on our plates. After all, the point of fresh flowers is to bring a smile and perhaps some fragrance to the supper table. The children complained at times, but I was determined that we sit down together each evening, to eat and talk about the day, the world, and the future. Now we all look forward to it when they visit and the communication skills built around that table have served them well.
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