Wendy Schmidt, For WesCom News Service

Last week my folks were having their apricot tree pruned, and the buds were almost ready to open. I brought some of the discarded branches home and put them in a vase. They will continue to open and last a lot longer in the vase solution which I mixed up for it (I will share that with you now).

EXTENDING THE LIFE OF YOUR CUT FLORAL BOUQUET

When we find a flower of exceptional beauty in the far reaches of our yard, we bring it in, take it somewhere to brag, or take it to a shut-in friend. In so doing, we want this beauty to last as long as possible.

FOOD

Flowers are living things. They need food for proper growth and healthy color. You can provide what they need with one of the following solutions:

• Mix one part of any of the common lemon-lime sodas with three parts of water. Do not use diet drinks or colas. Diet drinks have no sugar and the colas contain to much acid for flowers. Adding a quarter teaspoon of household bleach per quart will keep the solution clear.

• Put two tablespoons of lemon juice or bottled “Real Lemon,” one tablespoon of sugar, and a quarter teaspoon of bleach in a quart of warm water. Add another quarter teaspoon of bleach every fourth day. Do not use aspirin or vinegar in vase solutions — they are rarely effective in increasing vase life of flowers.

DO use a clean vase. A clean vase will be sanitary, or practically bacteria-free. Prepare flowers properly. Cut just-opening flowers early in the morning and put in water immediately. Immerse milk-sap flowers like poppies (bottom two inches of stem) in boiling water for 10 seconds just before using them in an arrangement. Gently remove lower leaves so no leaves will be under water. Recut the stems at an angle, under water. A bowl of water sitting in the sink works fine. When cut underwater, this assures the flower a water supply, because then the water tubes are not blocked by air bubbles.

DO NOT crush or burn stems as these practices are of little value.

DO NOT use softened water in a vase solution as it contains sodium, which is bad for cut flowers.

DO use arranging aids properly. If you use the oasis florist foam, put it in water and wait for it to sink. Pushing it underwater traps air bubbles which remain in the foam and cause early flower death.

DO keep flowers cool. Cut early in the morning. Do put flowers in a cool place overnight. Don’t put them in the sun, near heat or fireplace or on top of the television set.

When you follow the above directions, even tight buds should open and finish blooming. It is possible that this advice may give you an edge should you enter a flower show.

It is not good to mix daffodils in with other spring flowers in a bouquet if you wish it to be a long-lasting bouquet. The slime exuded from the daffodils will clog the water tubes of the other flowers, causing early wilting and flower death.

Willow twigs added to a bouquet have a somewhat antibacterial and sanitizing effect because of the salicylic acid contained in them (like the compound in aspirin).

If you have garden questions or comments, please write: greengardencolumn@yahoo.com Thanks for reading.

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