Deb Babcock: Freshen up indoors with flowers

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Deb Babcock

Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today.

Find more gardening columns here.

Cut flowers that seem to last longest in a container include:

Alstroemeria

Aster

Celosia

Cosmos

Gypsophila

Coneflower

Rudbeckia

Scabiosa

Snapdragon

Statice

Sunflower

Zinnia

Pinks

Phlox

Salvia

Calendula

Coreopsis

Bellflower

A splash of color during this monochromatic time of year brightens our spirits as well as our homes. And what better way to add a fresh splash of color than with some colorful tulips, Alstroemeria or daisies?

Whether your flowers come from the florist, your own greenhouse or the local grocery store, here are some tips for making the blooms last.

Before arranging the flowers in a container, condition them by cutting about an inch off the stem, on a slant with sharp scissors or knife, and placing in lukewarm water for a couple hours. This gives the stems time to absorb water before being handled again.

Because flowers are composed of 90 percent water, they respond to water temperature quickly. Warm water encourages closed blooms to open while cool water slows down their development, making the flowers last longer.

Some flowers benefit from sealing the stem so sap doesn’t leak out and wilt the flower prematurely. Stems of sunflowers, celosia and zinnias all can be sealed by placing the fresh cut stem in boiling water or over a candle flame for about 20 seconds before setting it in the water.

The container holding your flowers should have a water reservoir large enough to comfortably fit all your flowers. Consider unusual vessels such as teapots, watering cans or a decorative tin, bowl or box that is leak-proof. If the container has a wide opening, use floral foam soaked in water and cut to fit the shape of your vessel.

If the florist provided a packet of preservative, use it. A homemade preservative can be made by using a mixture of half 7 Up and half water with a teaspoon of household bleach per four cups of mix. The sugar in the soft drink gives the flowers energy while the bleach controls the growth of bacteria.

Water should be checked daily and refreshed every two to three days to extend the life of your flowers. When some flowers begin wilting, rearrange the display by cutting the remaining stems and reducing the size of the arrangement.

Flowers should be kept in a fairly cool location for longest life. Keep the bouquet away from drafty areas, direct sun or atop appliances that give off heat. The flowers also shouldn’t be stored near fruit or vegetables as they release a gas (ethylene) that will hasten aging as will leaving decaying leaves and stems in the bouquet.

Want to add some color, aroma and freshness to your indoor living areas, choose some fresh cut flowers.

Deb Babcock is a Master Gardener through the CSU Extension Routt County. Call 970-879-0825 with questions.

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