Making your flower bouquets last longer
More than 80 percent of flowers purchased in the United States are imported. With good climate and cheap labor, Columbia and Ecuador rank among the top growers. Africa, India, Australia and Southeast Asia also are emerging as floral exporters for a world market that tops $100 billion.
The flowers in a typical supermarket bouquet may have been cut a week earlier, preserved with chemicals and hauled thousands of miles before purchase. Cut flowers are not required to be labeled with an expiration date, possible chemical content or country of origin.
By buying flowers that are locally grown or growing them yourself, you can substantially cut down that bouquet's carbon footprint, said garden expert Debra Prinzing, author of "The 50-Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers" (St. Lynn's Press, $17.95, 144 pages).
Environmental regulations are spotty at best at flower farms in emerging nations, she added. That raises pollution concerns.
The alternative is to enjoy what's in season.
"Once they understand what they're doing to the Earth, people really want to do the right thing and find the resources to enjoy local flowers," Prinzing said. "That's why I wrote '50-Mile Bouquet,' hopefully to give people some tools they can apply in their own community."
How do you make bouquets last longer?
Help the flowers drink. Cut off an inch from the bottom of the stems while holding them under water. That prevents air bubbles from blocking the capillaries and lets water flow up instead. If you cut at an angle, that creates a larger surface area for the stem to take up more water.
Remove any foliage from the stem that will be under water in the vase, and use fresh water at room temperature or slightly cooler.
In the vase, dissolve an aspirin in room-temperature water before adding the flowers. Or try mixing in a splash of 7UP or Sprite (not diet –– your flowers want the sugar rush).
Display the bouquet in a cool area, away from direct sunlight or heater vents. After a few days, change the water and cut the stems another half-inch to extend the bouquet's life.
Contact Debbie Arrington at firstname.lastname@example.org.