Giving a bouquet of flowers as an expression of affection when someone is in hospital, for a special occasion or even in times of bereavement has been a custom in many countries for decades if not centuries.
But now this same bunch of flowers has become a two edged sword. Some hospitals are trying to ban flowers in patients’ rooms because they believe they may cause health complications in those same patients. Others feel that flowers have both immediate and long term benefits for patients in improving general morale and mood, increasing patient memory, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, pain and the number of postoperative analgesic application cases.
So what is the truth here?
Of course just about anyone would love to receive flowers when they are recovering in hospital. They can only bring pleasure.
The concern is about the mass produced flowers for the commercial flower trade
By the time these beautiful blooms reach their final destination, they will have been sprayed, rinsed and dipped in a battery of potentially lethal chemicals. Flower farms in foreign countries with lax pesticide regulations pose health risks while the majority of pesticide poisonings reported in California in 2008 came from rose farms. Floriculture represents a $40 billion annual industry in the US with its own political lobby. This industry has risen from $7.6 billion just 10 years ago – a massive growth. The majority of flowers sold in the US are imported. Chemicals can help keep buds fresh over the long journey.
Cut flowers can contain up to 50 times the pesticides and fungicides allowed on food crops
The big problem is that the consumer demands and gets perfect blooms. But at what price?
You can buck the trend – you can grow and cut flowers from your own garden the natural way. Unlike people in other countries, Americans are not renowned for growing their own flowers, fruit and vegetables. They are not a nation of gardeners. Perhaps it is time, they started.
Or you can you can buy flowers from your local Farmers Markets or local farms. Flowers bought from outlets that carry the Veriflora certificate lets you know that the growers follow fair trade practice with safe work environments and no child labor. And there are more and more companies worldwide that are coming on board to bring flower bouquets to you that are safe to produce and safe to buy. You just have to look for them and spread the word to others.
Flower farming in South America has a particularly bad reputation, with workers put at great risk from pesticides and other chemicals. If organic growers are scarce in your area, rather go for growing, living plants which can give years of pleasure or think about dried decorations like leaves, branches, berries and pussy willows.
Tips on keeping those flowers fresher longer
Once you buy or are presented with your bunch of flowers, you will want to keep them fresh as long as possible. But don’t resort to using packets of flower food. They are just a case of more chemicals.
- Instead you can use Copper Penny which is a fungicide and acts to prevent the water from developing too many yeasts and fungi.
- Aspirin is an acid and helps to kill bacteria overgrowth.
- Or add 2 tablespoonfuls of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 quart of water.
- Other ways to keep flowers fresh are to use cold and not warm water. Warm water dehydrates flowers.
- Placing cut flowers in the refrigerator for 6 hours before arranging them will triple their lifespan.
- Cut the stems every few days, replace the water and remove all leaves and foliage below the water line. This water line does not have to be higher than 6 inches from the bottom of the stems.
"God loved the flowers and invented soil. Man loved the flowers and invented vases.
" ~Variation of a saying by Jacques Deval (God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages.)