A bouquet of flowers makes my heart melt. My parents have been married for 26 years, and each Valentine's Day, my dad sends my mom a bouquet of roses, a symbol of love and appreciation. There is always a card tucked inside that contains five simple words: “'My love for you grows.” My mother looks like a blushing bride as she cradles her twelve long-stemmed roses, and I am reminded of why I love flowers. They are joy-bringers.

You don't have to have a green thumb to extend the life of your bouquet. If you're looking for a "long-term relationship" with your flowers, here are eleven professional secrets that will make your flowers last longer:

1. Confirm the freshness

Gently pinch the flower's sepal, which is the part of the flower where the petals and stem meet. If it's soft and squishy, the flowers are old. If it's firm, the flowers are fresh.

2. Keep them hydrated

If you have several errands to run before you can put your flowers into a vase, try to purchase flowers packaged with an individual water container. I sometimes put my flowers in a bucket of water, or at the very least, I wrap their stems with a damp paper towel.

3. Protect them from bacteria

Always use a sparkling clean vase that has been washed in hot, soapy water. This helps remove pesky microorganisms, which equals slimy water and dead flowers.

4. Remove extra greenery

Keep your water crystal clear by removing any greenery from the bottom of the stems that will be submerged in water. Also, change the vase’s water every other day in order to reduce the risk of infection.

5. Use a sharp knife

Use a very sharp knife to cut your flowers. Scissors will squish the flowers' stems, preventing them from absorbing water. For woody, thick stems, use sharp garden shears.

6. Trim off the right amount

Cut off 1-2 inches from the flowers' stems at a 45° angle under running water. This prevents extra air from going into the stems. Also, trim ½ inch from the stems every other day to help your flowers receive a steady flow of water.

7. Keep away from fruit

Keep your flowers away from fresh fruit. As fruit ripens, it releases ethylene gas, which causes flowers to wilt quickly.

8. Revitalize

Revitalize wilted flowers by soaking them in hot water. Heat the water to 110°F for slightly wilted flowers and 180-200° F for woody or badly wilting blossoms. Then, place them in the refrigerator.

9. Mist

Keep your bouquet happy, healthy, and pretty by picking out dying buds. I also like to use a spray bottle to mist my flowers daily. Bonus: This is a fun chore for kids!

10. Pick at the right time

When I clip flowers from my own garden, I do it in the early morning or late evening because flowers thrive best in cool environments from the second they are cut.

11. Keep them perky

Perk up your flowers' petals using these eight common household ingredients!

Apple cider vinegar: It's a tried-and-true way to preserve freshly cut flowers. Stir 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar into lukewarm water.

Aspirin: Nip bacteria in the bud by adding 2 crushed aspirin to the vase's water.

Bleach: Mix 3 drops of bleach and 1 tablespoon of sugar into 1 quart of water. The bleach prevents cloudiness and bacterial growth.

Clear soda: Pour ¼ cup of soda into the vase water. The sugar in the soda provides a steady flow of nutrients. The soda also makes the water acidic allowing it to travel up the stems more quickly than neutral or basic water, which keeps the flowers plump and fresh. However, this mixture does encourage bacterial growth, so add a few drops of bleach.

Hairspray: Give petals staying power by lightly spritzing the undersides of petals and leaves with hairspray. For optimal results, stand a foot away.

Pennies: Drop a penny and a teaspoon of sugar into the bottom of the vase's water. The copper in the penny will act like an acidifier, which destroys wilt-causing bacteria.

Sugar: Blend 3 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar into 1 quart of warm water.

Vodka: Keep flowers looking fabulous for as long as possible by adding three drops of vodka or any other clear spirit and one teaspoon of sugar to the water.

Now you'll be ready to care for all of those gorgeous Valentine's Day flowers. If you have a life-extending trick that's worked for you, we'd love to hear about it.

 

This is a guest post by Cherese from Tennessee.

11 Secrets That Will Make Your Flowers Last Longer