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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Why buy flowers if they're just going to die?

assorted cut flowers in a wide mouth jar. credit:

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love in the form of flowers. This holiday excites floral designers because they know every festive flower can generate a positive emotional response. Floral designer and State Master Gardener Coordinator, Candice Hart, becomes ecstatic because she is creating an experience through artistic expression with nature’s bloom. And that experience is backed up by research. 

Illinois Extension flower enthusiasts reject the question “Why buy flowers when they are only going to die?”

Flowers convey emotion and brighten a special someone's mood.

A team of researchers at Rutgers University explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction in a 10-month study of participants' behavioral and emotional responses to receiving a floral gift.

The results show that flowers are a natural and healthful moderator of moods with an immediate impact on happiness. All study participants expressed "true" or "excited" smiles upon receiving flowers, demonstrating extraordinary delight and gratitude. This reaction was universal, occurring in all age groups included in the study.

Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods. 

Specifically, study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious, and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.

Flowers make intimate connections.

The presence of flowers led to increased contact with family and friends.

I’ve observed that, when asked, most people can identify the last time they received flowers and from whom. It is the gift that gives multiple times a day. How often does one look at that flower arrangement with affection during its life span? 

“Whether it’s a traditional dozen red roses or a bright and cheery mixed arrangement, there are always some things we can do to make a gift bouquet last longer,” notes Candice Hart. Below are a few of Candice’s recommendations:

  • Recut the stems under water prevents air bubbles from being trapped in the xylem of the flower.

  • Change the water daily to prevent bacteria from building up. Bacteria build up in water will reduce the life of your cut flowers.

  • Use that floral preservative package that comes with the arrangement. These contain sugar, citric acid, and bleach. Sugar feeds the flowers that are no longer attached to their root systems, citric acid lowers the pH of the water allowing better water uptake, and bleach kills the bacteria. An at-home recipe: 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. bleach, 2 tsp. lemon/lime juice in 1 quart of warm water.

In a year when nature is at the forefront, happiness and love can be achieved with a bouquet of blooms. Still not convinced to buy a plant gift for your loved one? Houseplants are a great alternative to cut flowers that can last for years to come. In a recent news release, Horticulture Educator, Brittnay Haag offers some great suggestions.

Hi, I’m Kelly Allsup, Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator and co-host of Live with the Horticulturists. We are excited to kick off the 2021 season with a great lineup of gardening topics to fuel discussion and inspire your questions for our show. Our February 11, 2021 live event covers everything you need to know to pick the perfect, plant-based Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone:

Find and watch the entire collection of Live with the Horticulturist recordings at this link: