With Mother’s Day just around the corner, moms everywhere are about to get bombarded with flowers. How long they last is up to mom.

For roses, carnations and mixed arrangements, the key is a clean vase, cool water and stems that are cut before adding to the vase. Tulips, though, may need some extra attention. Extend their lives with a few simple steps:

>> Store-bought tulips should have flower heads that are closed and show only a bit of their colour.

>> Before putting tulips in a vase, the stems should be cut with a sharp knife to allow them the maximum amount of water absorption. Fill a clean vase with cool water. Remove any foliage that will be under water.

>> Tulips take on a life of their own in an arrangement. Despite being cut, their stems continue to grow and they lean toward light and bend over time. So today’s arrangement may be tomorrow’s do-over.

>> Cut tulips don’t react well to heat. Don’t allow the room to get hot and keep them out of direct sunlight.

>> Like other store-bought flowers, tulips usually come with nutritional packets that are added to the water. If not, Shelly Kolean of Nelis’ Dutch Village, a popular tulip grower in Holland, Mich., suggests adding 5 ml (1 tsp) of sugar and a penny to the bottom of the vase. The sugar adds nutrition and the penny’s alloys provides minerals, she says.

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