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Dead in the Water

How to keep them from wilting prematurely.

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Flower: Orchids
Max Life Span: Three weeks
Longevity Tips: “Orchids are easy,” says Lower East Side florist Elizabeth Ryan. “Just keep the water fresh and recut stems a quarter-inch every three or four days.” Cymbidium orchids last longest.

Flower: Mums, carnations, gladiolas
Max Life Span: Two to three weeks
Longevity Tips: Get gladiolas while some blooms are still closed, then snap off the top bud to help lower ones bloom. For mums, scrape the bottom two or three inches gently with clippers. Open carnations with your fingers and fluff the petals.

Flower: Flowering branches (azaleas, rhododendrons, cherries, dogwoods)
Max Life Span: Up to two weeks
Longevity Tips: Scrape the stem at the bottom, and use clippers to split it up the center three to four inches. Local branches like libernum and crab apple are much more fragile and will collapse after five or six days.

Flower: Lilies
Max Life Span: Up to two weeks
Longevity Tips: Pluck the first round of blooms as they die to help the second round. Removing pollen when it’s still hard can help lengthen life span.

Flower: Roses
Max Life Span: Ten Days
Longevity Tips: Pinch the rose. “If it feels meaty, buy it. If it feels mushy, don’t,” says Ryan. For the longest life, keep in cool water. To time full blooms for a party, use warm water instead.

Flower: Local peonies
Max Life Span: Ten days
Longevity Tips: Buy them tight, when they look like golf balls, and you should get ten days out of them.

Flower: Tropical flowers (ginger, heliconia)
Max Life Span: One week plus
Longevity Tips: Ryan recommends an old florists’ trick: Spray with Pam or olive oil to help lock in moisture.

Flower: Gerbera daisies
Max Life Span: One week plus
Longevity Tips: Gerbera stems tend to grow weak, even when the flower is strong. Do like many Korean delis do, and prop them up with a plastic straw. Or go the old-fashioned route and use a wire.

Flower: Irises
Max Life Span: Under a week
Longevity Tips: The freshest ones are completely closed. “Peel back the outer green covering like a banana to help it bloom,” says Ryan. Or just buy stems that have already opened a little.


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