Enduring love: tips for keeping flowers blooming

There are several surprising tips and tricks to make your blooms last longer.

I love a drug that multitasks. The tablets I take to prevent migraines also flatten out my bumpy heartbeat. Something I was prescribed a few years ago for some ailment also suppressed my appetite, so I lost 10kg – I was understandably reluctant to recover.

And now, it seems Viagra, the wonder drug that aids men’s sexual performance has been proven

to keep cut flowers upstanding too. You only need a tiny bit and even if you’re in your gardening gloves and gummies, it will still work.

The information has been out there for a while, but when British TV gardener David Domoney declared on air that, “You only need a tiny amount of Viagra to stiffen things up nicely,” the idea caught on. No doubt men all over the UK have recently been wondering where their little blue tablets have gone.

Actually, it only takes 1mg dissolved in water to do the trick – there are 50mg in a single tablet – and the flowers will last at least a week. Nitric oxide, the chemical in the drug that stops impotence by relaxing the muscles on blood vessels, causing them to dilate, also slows down the dying process in plants. Scientists in Australia originally discovered Viagra’s plant-preserving qualities – trust the Aussies – and the research was published in the British Medical Journal.

They’re probably already working on a gardeners’ version and it won’t be long before we’re buying the stuff at the garden centre.

Stayin’ alive

In the meantime, there’s a range of other methods that will keep your cut flowers standing up straight for longer:

  • Wash all of your vases and containers with a bit of bleach. This will stop the growth of bacteria, which can live for months even in a dry vase.
  • One tablet of soluble aspirin in the water is a tried and true method that’s been around for a long time.
  • A shot of vodka in a vase will stop the water going green with algae and developing that hideous smell.

  • Don’t put your cut flowers in a hot spot or direct sunlight – this will really shorten their life span.

  • Take two or three centimetres off the bottom of the stem. Make sure you cut it with a very sharp knife at an angle. If you cut them flat, they’ll sit on the bottom of the vase and be unable to suck up water.
  • Use plain, lukewarm water for most cut flowers, but use cold water for bulb flowers, such as daffodils, hyacinths and tulips.
  • Change the water completely every two days – don’t just top it up.
  • Give daffodils their own vase, as their stems give off a compound that is toxic to other flowers, and keep your cut flowers away from fruit, which releases a gas that causes flowers to age faster.

I have to say, using Viagra sounds a lot simpler, provided it’s already on your bedside table!

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