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How to Make Your Valentine's Day Flowers Last

Floral designer Emily Thompson has been busy getting ready for Valentine’s Day. Trained as a sculptor, she creates arrangements that are lush, beautiful, and wildly romantic. She just opened her new shop and studio, Emily Thompson Flowers, in New York City’s South Street Seaport neighborhood. Emily offers her expert advice on how to make your Valentine’s Day bouquet last.

Photographs courtesy of Emily Thompson Flowers

1. It’s important to put flowers immediately into water. Most florist flowers have traveled a long way to get to you -- often without water. As soon as possible, cut stems at an angle using very sharp clippers or a knife. This will create the greatest surface area, allowing as much water as possible to be absorbed. Also, cutting at an angle prevents stems from sitting flat against the bottom of the vase, which keeps them from taking in more water.

2. Put flowers immediately in fresh, cool water in a clean vessel. However, if you want a flower, such as a rose, to open sooner, Emily suggests placing the bloom in warm water to coax it open.

3. Remove any foliage below the water level. Leaves will rot when submerged. “I often remove all but the uppermost leaves from roses,” she says. “With many flowers, the foliage will suck up all the water and nutrients before they reach the bloom, so I try to edit out much of it.”

4. Add commercial floral food. A packet of it is often included with your bouquet. It can also be purchased at your local flower shop.

5. Replace water as needed. As soon as the water looks cloudy or murky, add fresh. If you don’t want to remove the flowers from the vase, Emily recommends putting the entire arrangement in the sink and flushing the container with water.

6. Peel off any outer petals of roses that are bruised or damaged. This will keep the blossom looking good and will also prevent any bacteria from spreading.

7. Above all, enjoy your blooms in all their stages. “I love an overblown rose, or a tulip that's just about to let go of its petals," she says. "Flowers are often most beautiful just before they collapse.”

Video: Watch Emily turn a bouquet of flowers into a beautiful Valentine's Day arrangement.

Valentine Bouquet

Valentine Arrangement

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