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Everyday Cheapskate: Double your enjoyment with Cut Flowers 101

Whether your cut flowers come through the back door (from your garden) or the front (supermarket, Costco, florist-delivered), you want them to last as long as possible. With just a modicum of effort, as opposed to just sticking them into a vase of water, you can double the time you can enjoy your flowers.

—Quick cut. The sooner you put your flowers into water, the longer they will last. The flowers should be re-cut at the stems, at an angle, while submerged in water. This is important for hollow-stemmed flowers to prevent an airlock from forming in the stem that may prevent the flowers from taking water.

—Feed ‘em! Flowers will last longer if cut-flower food is added to the water. If you don’t have a little packet of food (typically this comes with florist arranged flowers), don’t worry. You have all kinds of cut flower food in your kitchen. Select one of these flower food alternatives depending on what you have on hand:

—1/4 cup clear carbonated beverage to 1 quart of water

—One cap of hydrogen peroxide added to 1 quart of water

—One part lemon-lime soda (not diet) to 3 parts of water

—2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon bleach in one vase of water.

—2 tablespoons of white vinegar plus 2 tablespoons of sugar to 1 quart of water.

—Mix 2 cups warm water, 2 cups Sprite or 7UP (not diet) plus 1 1/2 teaspoons liquid bleach.

—Clean vase. Always use clean vases or containers. This will prevent any bacteria from ruining the quality of the flowers.

STRIP LOW LEAVES. Remove all of the leaves which will be under the water while in the vase. Leaves that are submerged will rot, creating bacteria and shortening the life span of your flowers.

—Refreshen. Change the water and flower food every three to four days.

—Cool spot. Never place your floral arrangements in full sun or over a radiator. This will cause excess water loss from the flowers, and they will wilt very quickly. For a maximum life span, the best place for your flowers is in a cool room.

GET MISTY. Once or twice a day lightly spray your finished arrangement with clear water to create a humid atmosphere around the flowers.

—One last thing. The Society of American Florists says under normal circumstances, flower delivery people do not expect a tip. However, if that driver had to make multiple attempts to find you at home, had to climb over a busted gate or in some other way was required to go the extra mile to make the delivery, then a gratuity would certainly be in order.

Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can email her at mary@

everydaycheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.

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