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Floral expert debunks viral flower hacks

With spring in full bloom, now is the time that many of us are filling our homes with beautiful flowers, from hydrangeas to peonies.

Social media users appear to be sharing various tips and tricks that claim to help people get the most out of your florals — but not all hacks are alike. Some are actually complete myths.

Justin Leviano, product and floral design manager with Urban Stems in Manhattan, said various flower care myths have circulated on the web, such as putting a penny in water to help tulips stand up straight, or placing aspirin in the flowers’ water to keep blooms staying fresh for longer.

Other trends that Leviano said he’s seen take off are lemon-lime soda and bleach as a substitution for flower food — or cutting flower stems underwater.

“A lot of these hacks are the same thing — they’re kind of like a placebo of sorts,” Leviano told Fox News Digital.

“It’s good intentions gone a little too far.”

The latest hack that’s having a viral moment shows people cutting flower stems underwater.

One social media user garnered over 23 million views on Instagram after sharing the trick.

Some say that you should cut your stems underwater. Getty Images

Leviano said the reason behind this idea comes from the need to hydrate flowers after cutting them down.

“As long as you cut your flower and your stem, whatever it may be, and then you get it into water in the next minute or two, it’s not going to seal up. It will still be able to hydrate just fine,” he said.

“The cutting [a flower] underwater is an attempt to minimize the amount of time that your flower spends out of the water after you cut it, because if you cut a flower [and] you do leave it out of water for 5 or 10 minutes, that stem will seal back up and it will be unable to hydrate.”

Leviano addressed another flower care trend.

As long as the flowers make it into water quickly, you don’t have to worry about the stem sealing. Getty Images

Instead of snipping, people are smashing woody stems, like those of hydrangeas or lilacs, with a heavy pan or hammer — but he said this hack may actually do more damage than believed to your beautiful, new flowers.

Instead, Leviano suggested cutting the stems at an angle to the user’s desirable length — then cutting the stem in half.

“That opens up the stem and allows water to soak in, and it keeps the stem intact in a way that smashing it doesn’t.”

Another tip to keep your hydrangeas alive: Soak the top in room-temperature water, which will act as a water bath for the flower.

“Hydrangeas kind of hydrate through their petals, which is amazing, but they do it more effectively if you take the whole flower stem blooms and all and really submerge it in some nice, warm, almost bath-temperature water.”

Leviano said this method will open up the pores and get water into the flower’s stem.

“And you want to do that for about 30 minutes to an hour and then take the stems out of water and blot the flowers dry pretty carefully with a paper towel,” he said.

Hydrangeas hydrate through their petals so its a good idea to soak the entire flower. Getty Images/iStockphoto

This idea is better than simply misting the flower.

“When you mist and then leave some of that water sitting on the petals, you can end up with a little bit of a decay moment, which is no one’s favorite vibe.”

Leviano said there’s also a penny-in-the-water hack for tulips that floral lovers think will help their blooms stick up straight.

The trick, however, is apparently not all it’s cracked up to be.

Some people put pennies in their flowers’ water. Getty Images

“People are getting tulips, and when tulips are not hydrated, they’re a little bit bendy. They’re kind of droopy. Once you cut them and hydrate them for about 12 hours, they will straighten up and start to move toward light right there.”

He added, “What’s happening is people get their tulips, they cut them, put them in water with the penny — and then they see tulips doing what they naturally do, standing more upright and stretching their necks.”

And people “think it’s because of the penny,” he said. “Full fantasy. It’s not the penny.”

The penny trick is a myth. Getty Images

The irony is that pennies are covered in bacteria — which then introduces contaminants into the water, which can instead hurt the life of tulips, Leviano said.

Along those same lines is the aspirin-in-the-flower-water trick, believed to help sterilize the water because of its antibacterial ingredients.

But this is another placebo effect with no proven results, according to Leviano.

Some people put aspirin in their water to eliminate bacteria. Getty Images

Lengthening the life of fresh flowers

If you want to keep your flowers alive for longer, consider the following three tips from Leviano.

  1. The first and most important thing to do for your flowers is give them fresh, clean water.
  2. Then, cut the stems at an angle to “maximize the surface area where the flower can hydrate,” Leviano said.
  3. The final thing you can do to maximize flower life is to use flower food. 

And use it often.

“It’s going to minimize bacterial growth in the water, which is ultimately what kills your flowers most of the time,” he said. 

When it comes to a floral arrangement’s lifespan, nothing beats fresh clean water. Getty Images

“It’s also going to give a little bit of nutrition to the flowers. It’s going to give them a little bit of like it’s a sugar element that helps them bloom open.”

Use only a portion of the flower food when you first get your bouquet ready and save the rest for later in the week as you change out the water. 

You’ll also want to create a new angular stem cut.

There is something special about having fresh flowers in your home, which could make the extra care worth it.

“[Flowers] truly enrich our lives. [You] get to receive the beauty,” said Leviano. “You get to sit with it, enjoy it, be nourished by it — and that, to me, has value.”

There is something special about having fresh flowers in your home, which could make the extra care worth it.

“[Flowers] truly enrich our lives. [You] get to receive the beauty,” said Leviano. “You get to sit with it, enjoy it, be nourished by it — and that, to me, has value.”

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