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Saying "I Love You" With Flowers
Saying "I Love You" With Flowers
Red roses are a traditional flower during Valentine's Day. Image by Pixabay.

Valentine's Day is only a few days away! If you're planning to send the traditional red roses, the sooner you order them, the better. But be aware; the laws of supply and demand mean they'll be rather pricey at holiday time.

Even when it's not a holiday, flowers are such a special treat - especially in the middle of winter – so you really want to make them last as long as possible. Follow these easy tips to get the most days of enjoyment from those beautiful Valentine blooms.

Azaleas are beautiful blooming plants, but difficult to rebloom. Selecting Flowers
At the flower shop, look for fresh newly arrived flowers. To assess the age of roses, gently pinch the base of a few flower buds between your fingers - they should be quite solid and firm, not soft. Young new rose buds with a firm base, will last much longer than older buds.

Other flowers should have upright firm petals and just beginning to open. Spike flowers, like gladiolas or snapdragons, should have only the first few flowers open. Daisy-like flowers like chrysanthemums should still have green centers.

Avoid flowers which are damaged or wilting, have broken or slimy stems, or yellowing, spotted or droopy leaves.

Getting Ready
Start with an immaculately clean vase. Use a bottle brush to scrub the inside. For maximum flower life, you'll need to clean the vase and change the water every 2-3 days as bacteria begins to build up in the water. Bacteria clog the flower stems, slowing water uptake and shortening flower life.

Dissolve a packet of floral preservative in warm water, according to directions. Floral preservative has two purposes, inhibit bacteria growth in the water and provide some flower food.

Before placing the flowers in a vase, strip off any foliage which will be under water. If left intact, submerged leaves will quickly begin to rot, enhancing bacteria growth and fouling the water.

Recut the stems at an angle, to open up the stem ends for maximum water absorption and so they won't rest squarely on the bottom of the vase. Use a sharp knife rather than a scissors that might compress them. Cut the stems under running water to prevent air blockage of the freshly cut tissue.

Care of Cut Flowers
Once in their vase, place the flowers in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. Except for orchids, the cooler you keep cut flowers - without freezing, of course - the longer they'll last. You could even put them in the basement or a cool hallway when you're not around to appreciate them.

Mix-up a fresh batch of water/floral preservative solution and clean the vase every 2-3 days. Recut the stems each time they go back into fresh water and remove any flowers stems which are fading.

Tropical hibiscus can easily be kept long-term as a blooming houseplant, given enough sunlight. Flower Alternatives
If your sweetheart doesn't love flowers, there are great alternatives such as flowering potted plants or tropical houseplants. If you're less concerned about the plant's longevity vs. its beauty, you may opt for one with showy flowers. Azaleas (pictured above right), begonias, cyclamen, kalanchoes and Persian violets are blooming floral plants commonly available around Valentine's Day, which can be expected to bloom for several weeks, but unfortunately, they are very difficult to rebloom. For that reason, these plants are often considered disposable, like cut flowers.

If your sweetheart has a green thumb, look for blooming houseplants which are both easy to grow and easy to rebloom. Tropical hibiscus (pictured right) make great houseplants and bloom indoors under bright light or outside under the summer sun. African violet hybrids are easy to grow, blooming off and on year-round. Moth orchids are very showy and easy care.

But when all is said and done, remember there's something romantic about one perfect rose. You needn't spend a fortune to say "I love you" with flowers.

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