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Care and Conditioning: Carnations

Your carnations may arrive with closed buds but will open over the next few days after conditioning. Start with a very clean vase. Hold each carnation next to your vase to gauge how much stem you'll need to trim; you might also want to remove some of the leaves. Using a sharp knife or pruners, cut stems at a 45-degree angle. This prevents them from sitting flat on the bottom of the vase and allows for better water absorption. When conditioning carnations, be sure to cut above one of the nodes that run up the flower's stalk; this will allow the stem to more easily draw the water it needs. Add the included cut-flower food to the vase; use the extra pack with your first change of water. Carnations should be reconditioned every two or three days: Recut the stems, change the water, and add nourishment. To nourish the flowers after the flower food is used up, refill your vase with a solution of one teaspoon of sugar and two drops liquid bleach per gallon of fresh, cool water. Carnations are especially sensitive to ethylene, a gas that causes flowers to deteriorate rapidly. Keep the blooms away from possible sources of this gas, which include wilting plants and ripening fruits and vegetables. Keep the flowers away from drafts, direct sun, and excessive heat.

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