More flower power

How to make your Valentine’s flowers last

05040453033321jshs_L_300_C_YThis is one of those months that commercial and wholesale florists love. Well, actually it’s just a single solitary day they love.

And in truth, they probably love February 15th because they can breathe a sigh of relief. Of course, this year that’s a Sunday and they’d be relaxing anyway.

The day before will be a madhouse, especially since it falls on a Saturday this year.

February 14th ranks right below Mother’s Day as one of the busiest florist days. Since folks are prone to give their sweethearts flowers (though we still tend to be a somewhat ­sexist society with men giving women ­flowers, and women giving men something else), there is little ­consensus on just what to give the guys.

That being said, flowers can also be sent to guys. At times it may be better than another tie.

Granted jewelry comes into play, but flowers tend to be a little less expensive.

Sure, there are other holidays in the month, but most folks don’t celebrate Washington’s or Lincoln’s birthdays with flowers.

Gone are the days when flowers were the sole propriety of florists. These days, you can find flowers at grocery and discount stores and even gas stations, though the ­latter ­locations should only be as a last resort. Too many times the ­flowers shatter after the plastic sleeve is removed.

You can even order all sorts of ­flowers on-line, including those ­tropicals from Hawaii. Granted you may have to pay more for shipping, but the quality may be fresher.

Valentine’s flowers haven’t kept pace with inflation, which is the great news. You can buy more stems of your favorite flower than you could thirty years ago.

Still, all that purchasing power means nothing if the flowers don’t last the week. Below are some tricks of the trade to make you look like royalty all week.

✿ Order early. Finish this article, put down the magazine and make your order. If you plan on picking them up locally, call ahead and place the order. Don’t rely on the store ­having this vast selection of perfect specimens on Saturday.

✿ Of course, make sure the ­flowers are fresh. With air freight, it’s possible to get flowers cut on Wednesday and delivered by Friday to the florist, or your doorstep.

✿ If you are ordering flowers on-line, do take into ­consideration ­shipping time as well as the weather. Most delivery trucks are heated, but you always run the risk of flowers freezing solid and ­turning black when they thaw.

✿ Check the flowers over ­carefully. Avoid black stems or leaves. Flower heads should be tight, with roses just opening up. While it looks awful, especially if folks you know are watching, sniff the cut ends of the flowers. They should smell fresh; if they smell rotten, the flowers have been sitting in the container too long and bacteria growth is occurring.

✿ Make sure someone is home if flowers are delivered by the florist or someone else. Having flowers sit in the cold will result in that ­special someone giving you the same chilling experience.

David Robson is Extension Specialist, Pesticide Safety for the University of Illinois. drobson@illinois.edu

David Robson is Extension Specialist, Pesticide Safety for the University of Illinois. drobson@illinois.edu

✿ Local florists allow you to talk to a person one-to-one, which means you can express your wishes. You also have an easier time with ­guaranteed quality. But DON’T WAIT until the last minute.

✿ Get the flowers in water as soon as possible.

✿ Change the water every other day, rinsing the stems, and cut a half inch off the stems every fourth day. Keep flowers on the cool side

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