The first thing is to know the enemy. Actually, there are two: bacteria and drought. Defeat both and your flowers will last and last. You will be amazed!

START WITH A CLEAN VASE

Scrub it with soap and hot water. Rinse well. And fill with tap water.

DISINFECT

Add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach for each quart of water. This will slow down the growth of bacteria and fungus in the water without harming or affecting the flowers. Measure carefully! Trying to eyeball this very weak ratio could backfire.

REMOVE LEAVES BELOW THE WATER LINE

Remove any stem leaves that will be below the water line. Submerged leaves will quickly rot and promote bacteria and algae growth.

CONDITION THE STEMS

Cut flowers will die of thirst even when standing in water if the stems have not been conditioned to draw that water all the way to the blooms. That’s because when cut, a flower stem quickly seals its “wound,” preventing it from drawing water.

Just before plunging the stems into the vase, cut stems at a 45-degree angle to allow the greatest amount of water possible to be absorbed.

CHANGE THE WATER EVERY DAY

The moment that water turns cloudy, you know bacteria is present. Cloudy water is proof positive that bacteria are having a field day in that vase. Change it every day, filling back up with the same formula of 1/4 teaspoon liquid bleach per quart of water, and quickly snip a bit from the end of each stem before plunging them back into the water.

WOODY STEMS

Split the last 2 inches of the stem with a sharp knife. Next, pound that part with a hammer until it is well frayed. Then the stem will allow water to draw all the way to the blooms.

To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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