Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and flower shops are already busy planning their supplies of flowers. Most gardeners love flowers and delight in sending and receiving floral gifts for this very special day.

Although men purchase the majority of flowers, it is becoming increasingly popular for women to buy and send flowers to men. Strong vibrant colors and sculptured sturdy shapes with berries and foliage, as well as roses, are becoming more popular for women to purchase and send to men.

Some people use Valentine’s flowers to send hidden meanings and messages, a tradition that dates back to Victorian times when suitors would use flowers to send coded messages to their lovers.

Roses are undoubtedly the most popular choice of flower to send on Valentine’s Day, and the color of the roses is also said to have hidden meanings: red roses are a sign of true love, purple roses represent everlasting love and yellow roses are said to give the message that you are jealous.

People do send flowers other than roses on Valentine’s Day. There are a variety of spring flowers, which also come in various shades of reds and pinks, but it has also become trendy to send huge bouquets of spring flowers with a variety of vibrant colors.

So, if you receive cut flowers, proper care is important for extending the life of fresh flower arrangements. Following are a few guidelines which will make this symbol of love last longer.

First, water is vital. Keep the vase or floral foam soaked with water at all times. Add fresh water daily and use warm water, as this will aid in uptake.

One additional hint is to add about 1/3 cup of lemon-lime soda, full sugar and not diet. The acid will prevent bacteria and the sugar will provide nourishment.

If the water turns cloudy, replace it immediately with fresh water, and, if possible, re-cut the stems every day by removing 1 to 2 inches. Use a sharp knife and cut the stems underwater, as this allows them to draw in water instead of air.

Next, keep the flowers cool, as warm temperatures shorten the life of the blooms. Avoid direct sunlight and heat vents, and warm air from ceiling fans also will cause flowers to fade. Appliances like televisions and computers give off heat, causing the flowers to dry out.

If your flowers start to wilt, try this trick: remove the stem from the arrangement and re-cut the stem.

Next, submerge the entire flower in warm water. Leave it in the water for one to two hours. This treatment should perk the flowers up, extending them for a couple days. This trick works particularly well for cut roses.

If you purchase loose stems of flowers, keep them cool as long as possible before delivering to your sweetheart. Fill a clean vase with water and add flower food from the florist, following mixing instructions.

Before placing the stems in the vase, remove all foliage that will be below the waterline. Leaves in water promote bacterial growth, which decreases life. Cut the flower stems under water with a sharp knife before placing them in the vase.

Potted plants are also a popular gift. Like arrangements, keep them in a cool location and avoid heat drafts or dry air for longer lasting color. Most plants will require even moisture, so check the soil daily and, if dry to the touch, water.

Do not let the plants stand in water, as this will harm the root system. Potted flowering plants will last anywhere from a few days, in the case of forced bulbs, to several weeks.

For example, under good conditions expect azaleas, cyclamen and kalanchoes to last up to four weeks.

Remember, flowers are one of the best signs of showing that you care. Whether you send or receive flowers, no matter if it is Valentine’s Day or not a special occasion at all, it will mean so much. Try it.

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