A Few Pennies Will Increase the Life of Your Tulips in a Vase

Tulips are showing up as cut flowers in the grocery store and at the florist now. I was given some a week ago, and they still look great. What do I do to get good vase-life?

First, I cut off three quarters of an inch of the stem when I first placed them in the vase. Flower stems exposed to air suck some air up into the stem, which can block water uptake. Some people even cut the stems in a bowl of water to prevent that, though I tend to follow the 3-second rule: get them in water within 3 seconds. (There is also the 3-second rule about cookies dropped on the floor, and follow that rule, too).

Tulips are great cut flowers.

Second, I keep cut flowers cool. Never near the woodstove or a radiator. I’ve been known to put the vase in the cold mudroom at night to prolong the vase life of cut flowers.

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And many years ago, while waiting in line at the Coop food store, a woman advised me that placing “three copper pennies in the vase with the tulips will prolong their life.” (All pennies are copper or copper clad except those made in 1943, which were steel clad with zinc). I’ve been doing that ever since – though I have to admit I’ve never done a controlled experiment with pennies in one vase, no pennies in the other.

Three pennies in the water is said to lengthen tulip vase-life.

I do know the packets of “floral extender powder” does keep bacteria from growing in the vase, and use it. A little Clorox would probably do the same, but knowing how much is the problem. Not much.

Florsts give this stuff away free. Use it!

At any rate, we’re in the middle of winter, and most of us need a pick-me-up. I recommend a bouquet of tulips. And if you bring some home for your loved one, you may get another pick-me-up!

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