Listen to Your Valentine's Flowers - Really

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Tips from a veteran in the flower industry on how to make your Valentine's Day bouquets last as long as possible.

Nearly every woman wants a gorgeous bouquet of flowers on Valentine's Day. It's a shame when those flowers only last a few days. This year, take a few simple steps to make that gift last longer.

In the past, you may have dabbled in flower voo-doo: cutting stems at oblique angles with fancy French knives, tossing pennies into vases and replacing water with soda. But really, all you have to do is listen to your flowers.

Hi, I'm bud
First, buy flowers that are not in full bloom yet. The freshest flowers should bloom once in possession, not while with the vendor. For example it takes approximately four days for a lily to bloom, seven more days to attain peak display, and then it might hold for another seven. Buy that lily in bud form and enjoy it for the longest life possible.

I'm thirsty
So now you have mostly closed flower buds. First things first: flowers are thirsty. Immediately clip a new end on each stem and place them -- still wrapped -- in a supportive, clean container to drink for a few hours.

I need support
Take your now-hydrated stems and clip each one to a length that best suits the vase. Make sure you've washed that vase thoroughly. No vase? Then use a jam jar, old kettle, juice pitcher or cleaned-out paint can. Use your imagination but remember, whatever the container it must support the stems. Stems don't do well if bending excessively under their own weight and will inevitably break. Also, when arranging, allow room for all buds to open, and don't leave foliage on the stem that goes below the water line.

I like it cold
After you've placed your freshly harvested, fully hydrated, carefully arranged flowers in the location you love, turn down the thermostat a few degrees. And now, a few more please. Flowers, like food, spoil less quickly at lower temperatures so you must reach a compromise so neither of you perish too quickly.

Pamper me
Fresh, sated, clean and cool; these are your flowers. They are so pampered you can almost see them preen and hear them coo. To keep them happy, carry them over to the sink every second or third day, clip a new end on each stem, rinse any debris that's forming, wash the vase with soapy warm water, and refill and rearrange.

These simple steps will keep your Valentine's Day blooms bright for days to come. No voo-doo, just some listening and love.

Mark Hayes is the founder and CEO of http://www.flowerbud.com, headquartered in Oregon. For 10 years, Flowerbud is the leading online company shipping flowers direct from the farm to your doorstep within 24 hours.

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