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Cut Flowers are not Just for Valentine’s Day



Could your home use a little color and some brightening up? Fresh cut flowers give you lots of possibilities. You don’t need any gardening experience, green thumbs or creative talent to get great looks with flowers, just go buy some. You also don’t need a special vase. You are set if you have any containers that hold water. You can always stop by your favorite florist or floral department for help with do-it-yourself ideas and selecting the right flowers, but why not create your own look?

Every room in the house can have cut flowers or dried arrangements or even a combination of both. Fresh cut flowers can liven up an ordinary dried arrangement. Don’t wait for someone else to buy you flowers — this is a do-it-yourself project. Of course, roses or your loved one’s favorite flowers can add some romance to a room, but you can also buy flowers because they match the wallpaper.

Are you having friends over? Fresh flowers make any room special. Do you have a home office, or do you spend so much time at the office it seems like home? Either way, flowers will make a tough day at work seem easier. The fragrance of flowers also helps lift the spirit. Since some flowers could smell bad to certain people, avoid going overboard at work.

Any bottle, jar, cup, pitcher or old boot that holds water can be used as a vase. Once, I needed a vase to hold more than two-dozen roses. I was in a hurry and needed to go to the grocery store. While there, I found a half-gallon water jug for storing water in the refrigerator. It was clear plastic with a twisted shape to it, so it looked like it was made from glass or crystal. I unscrewed the lid and filled it with the roses, and it worked perfectly.

Cut flowers are easy to buy and to care for. Look for flowers, especially roses, that have tight compact buds that are just beginning to open. On flat flowers, such as mums, look for many unopened flower buds in the center of the disc. Hold the flower stems up to see if the leaves are wilted or broken. Keep the flowers cool and shaded until you can place them in a vase.

Before putting them in a vase, cut the bottom inch off the stem. If necessary, cut off more of the stem to fit it in the vase. Make the cut at an angle, so the stem does not rest flat on the bottom. Use fresh, cold water, and change it every day or as soon as it gets cloudy. Don’t just add water if it gets low. Be sure to give the plant new water. Use any flower additive packets that come with the bouquet. You can cut off another inch of stem after a couple of days; it will sometimes lengthen the flower’s shelf life.

Some people say adding clear soft drinks or aspirin to the water will lengthen vase life. The scientific evidence is still a bit sketchy, but if it works for you, go ahead.

Try new varieties of flowers and new ways of displaying them. If an individual flower head breaks off the stem, put it in a shallow bowl and use in a location that gets a closer look. If the vase is large and the flowers won’t stay standing in place, add some marbles. Marbles work great at holding the stems, and depending on the color, they can also add to the display.

Fresh flowers may last as long as two weeks in a typical home, but they often only last a week. If you get into the habit of buying flowers and develop a friendly relationship with the salespeople, you might be able to find out when the shipments of fresh flowers arrive in order to receive the freshest ones.

In other parts of the world, fresh cut flowers are part of almost every home, but in the states, we tend to use them just for special occasions. Why not brighten your winter landscape and buy some flowers today?

E-mail questions to Jeff Rugg, University of Illinois Extension at To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


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