How to extend vase life

Tips to keep flowers looking good longer in vases

When you're making a special gift bouquet or dinner party centerpiece, it's worthwhile to follow the rules.

• Cut flowers early in the morning or just after sunset. Avoid cutting during the heat of the day.

• Take a bucket of tepid water with you as you harvest. Place stems in it as you cut.

• Indoors, fill the kitchen sink with cool water and recut each stem under water. Then pull off any foliage or flowers that will be below the water level in the vase.

• Fill a vase with lukewarm water and a commercial floral preservative. Or provide the preservative's essential ingredients ― sugar, acidifier, and biocide ― with kitchen supplies: Mix one part regular (not diet) lemon-lime soda to three parts water, or stir 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and a crushed aspirin into 24 ounces of water.

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