My 9 year-old daughter received beautiful, but short-lived red stem roses for her recent star turn in a Playground Theatre Summer Camp Production. Had we talked first to Donn Flipse, we could have extended their ''vase life.'' Chief executive of Field of Flowers, a chain of flower superstores, Flipse offers these tips:
• Let them drink Sprite. Believe it or not, Sprite, a citrus-flavored soft drink, is good for cut flowers. The sugar supplies nutrition and carbonated water serves as an anti-bacterial agent. The drink's citric acid provides a low PH environment.
''Flowers like to be in a solution that is slightly acidic,'' Flipse said. His Sprite recipe: one part soda to three parts water. ``We've tested it and it works pretty well compared to the commercial flower food solution that we sell.''
• Consider frugal solutions. Most cut flowers come with a free packet of flower food. Use it. Commercial preparations may be more economical than Sprite if you use cut flowers frequently. A bottle of flower food solution sells for $3.50 and can be used to make gallons of solution. Homemade or commercial solutions can double the vase life of your arrangement.
• Buy long-lasting flowers. The following plants have a long vase life:
Two weeks: Chrysanthemums (mums), oriental lilies and carnations. To keep the lilies fresh for two weeks, carefully remove the yellow (and messy) pollen as the flowers open.
10 days: Hybrid delphinium, hydrangea and bouvardia.
• Clean the water. After four or five days, most arrangements need a tune-up. The short cut: Empty the vase, then refill the vase with the correct ratio of water and flower food. But if you have more time: Remove flowers from vase. Rinse and trim the stems. Remove spoiled foliage. Clean the vase.
''You want the container to be clean enough to drink out of,'' Flipse said.
Then refill the vase with the water/flower food solution and enjoy.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.
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