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If the winter ickies have got you down, try my fresh cut flower cure.

According to a study conducted at Texas A&M University, creative performance and problem-solving skills improved substantially in workplace environments that contain flowers and plants. Among the 100 men and women that participated in the study, it was found their productivity increased by up to 30 percent. Now that’s flower power.

But increased performance is not the only benefit of keeping house plants and vases of fresh flowers in the your home and office. Researchers also found that live flowers reduce stress while increasing levels of positive energy and happiness.

Plants and flowers also speed up the healing process, so hospitals are now incorporating indoor and outdoor healing gardens in their building and renovation plans. Some are putting plants and flowers in their recovery rooms.

Today, you don’t have to spend a fortune on floral bouquets. Large grocery chains and even independents carry fresh cut flowers, flowering plants and seasonal bloomers. And don’t pass up a chance to peruse your local florist shop to see what’s new in floral design. Most have special grab-and-go selections at great prices. For the next few months tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and jewel toned English Primroses will be featured all over town at affordable prices.

Don’t forget fragrance when choosing flowers. Scientific research also attests nice fragrances also give a boost to overall health and reduce stress.

Carnations, stock, hyacinths and Oriental Lilies, such as “Casablanca” and “Star Gazer,” are all fragrant and readily available at this time of year. Be sure to place them where you and your guests can walk up and inhale their lovely fragrance.

Flowers with long vase lives include mums, carnations, alstromeria, baby’s breath and asters. Mixed bouquets are usually a better buy because the first faded flowers can be removed while the remainder still looks good.

Here are a few tips on how to treat flowers to further extend their vase life:

Start with a clean vase that’s been washed with hot soapy water and fill it with room temperature water. Flowers of spring bulbs prefer cool water. Next, add flower preservative powder according to the directions on the packet and stir. Using a clean kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, cut the ends from each flower stem and remove any leaves that might be submerged underwater. Angle cuts expose more of the stem end and allow better water uptake. Avoid placing the flowers in direct sun. Change the water every other day.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question, go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnews.com/homestyle.

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