How to make your valentine roses last longer

When a dozen beautiful roses are delivered to your door, they're in perfect condition. Three days later, they aren't. You sigh and bemoan the short life of cut flowers.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

One trick many people don't know is that if a rose droops - hangs its head - you can often make it stand up straight again by completely submerging it - flower and all - for an hour or more in a sink or tub of very warm water.

To keep your entire bouquet looking fresh for at least a week, follow these simple steps:

1. Place roses in a clean bucket of tepid water as soon as possible. If you can leave them there for several hours, it's much better.

2. Using a sharp knife or pruning shears, cut the bottoms of the stems at a 45-degree angle, while the stems remain underwater.

3. Cut off all leaves that will be underwater when the roses are placed in a vase. Otherwise, leaves will become moldy and affect the water quality.

4. Choose a vase that's at least half as tall as the roses, so it won't tip over. Then make sure the vase is clean. If it's been sitting on a shelf, rinse it out to get rid of dust.

5. If the florist included a packet of floral preservative with your roses, dissolve it in barely warm water and pour into the vase.

6. Then take the roses from the bucket and place them in the vase.

7. Add fresh water to the vase each day. To avoid spilling water, use a turkey baster instead of a watering can.

8. Every two or three days, pour the old water out of the vase and immediately replace it with fresh, clean water.

9. Continue steps 7 and 8.

10. If roses droop their heads after a week, that's the end of their lifespan as cut flowers. But if it happens before then, and you're leery of laying them in a tub of hot water, try another technique that often works: Wrap the flower and top of the stem in brown paper and place the stem in a bottle of hot water.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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