ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions & Answers

Q Bouquets on our dining table often stimulate conversations about cut flower preservatives. Has anyone compared durability of cut flowers in untreated water with that of flowers in water containing preservatives? G.S.E.

Belmont, Mass.

Having been in the florist business, we know that cut flower preservatives definitely prolong their freshness.

Flower preservatives have three basic ingredients: a sugar to act as food for the flowers, citric acid to lower the pH of the solution to enable flowers to take up the solution more readily, and a bactericide to kill microorganisms that could clog stems.

Floralife, a long established company manufacturing floral preservatives, has done extensive research dedicated to prolonging the freshness of cut flowers. They have sent us some helpful hints:

The person receiving the cut flowers should cut an inch or so off stems with a sharp, clean knife, making a slanted end to expose more surface and keep stem from resting flatly on bottom of vase. Water should be warm (100-110 degrees F.) when flower preservative is added. The flowers should then be moved to a cool place for half an hour, and then each night.

Folks may want to store them in the refrigerator at night. Be sure no fruit or vegetables are enclosed with the bouquet. They give off ethylene gas that put flowers to sleep. Don't use metal vases, and be sure vases are washed with a detergent and household bleach solution.

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