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The Key To Longer-Lasting Bouquets

The windows of a bar in the Malecon are taped as Hurricane John approaches Puerto Vallarta Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006, in Mexico. Hurricane John churned along Mexico's Pacific Coast, lashing beaches with winds and rain but staying just far enough offshore to avoid major damage.
AP Photo/Guillermo Arias
One of the best things about having a flower garden is being able to bring some of the blossoms indoors to decorate your home. Whether you have your own cutting garden or buy your stems at the store, Saturday Early Show Gardening Expert Georgia Raimondi has some tips for keeping a bouquet at its best.


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Your garden will flower more profusely if you cut the flowers frequently.

Gathering flowers is best done in the early morning hours when it's cool. Cut flowers are more likely to droop soon if they're cut during the stress of a hot day.

Most blooms should be picked when they are only half open. Dahlias, zinnias and marigolds are exceptions; pick them in full bloom or they'll never open.

Use a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. Cut the stem on a diagonal, at a 45 degree angle, and leave the stem long so you can trim it later while arranging the bouquet. Tear off lower leaves that will be submerged under the water line in the vase. Roses will last longer if you remove only the bottom thorns.

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Immediately immerse the cut stems up to the flower heads in a container of clean tepid water. With long thin stems and heavy-headed flowers, such as tulips, wrap the stems tightly together with newspaper or brown paper before immersing them in the water, to straighten them so they'll stand up better. Keep the flowers in the container overnight, or at least for several hours, so they will drink deeply.

Before you place the stems in a vase, re-cut them while holding them under running water. The running water will keep the flowers from absorbing air and make it more difficult for them to absorb water later.

Some special cases: Woody stems should be split about an inch or two up to help them absorb water. Flowers with milky sap like poppies, zinnias and sunflowers should have their ends seared off with a match or immersed in boiling water for about 20 seconds. This seals the stem, keeping the flower from losing its nutrients. If the flowers are hollow stemmed, turn them upside down and fill the stem with water, then plug the end with cotton.

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Clean the vase first with one part bleach to 10 parts water to prevent bacteria buildup from wilting your flowers.

You can make your own "flower food" if you don't have the store-bought kind. Flowers need sugar for nourishment, aspirin to raise water acidity and bleach as an antibacterial agent. A good homemade dry-flower food contains a teaspoon of sugar and one aspirin. For liquid flower food, one part lemon lime soda and three parts water will work.

One other tip: Don't put daffodils in an arrangement with other flowers. Their sap can harm other flowers.