Land's top three choices are: Alstroemeria (you've seen these long-stalk white or yellow or orangey flowers with striations, pictured here); Chrysanthemums, and the humble, workhorse carnation. Expect them to last 7 to 10 days, depending in part on how fresh they were when purchased and whether you care for them once they're displayed at home. (See below.)
Land herself loves tulips, but says that with these blooms you can't be a "tidy freak," since "they just keep loosening up until they get this bordello look, which means they look good even when they're past their prime."
More flowers with staying power include:
Ornithogalum (Star of Bethlehem)
Wax Flower--but be warned that as flowers or leaves die, they may shed.
Lisianthus (Prairie Gentian)
Parsley-- Okay, not a flower, but a good green filler that lasts forever if it was perky to begin with and you are scrupulous about removing all lower foliage.
Unless you need the flowers for tonight's dinner party, select ones whose blossoms are swollen but not yet opened, says Land. Leaves can also be a guide to longevity: No matter what stage flowers are in, reject any that have drying or yellowing leaves or stems.
Once you get them home:
Remove all leaves that will be below the water line.
Change the water and trim the stems every day or every other day. It's a drag, especially if you like the way you've arranged them, but this routine enables flowers to continue pulling up water.
Keep your display out of direct sunlight.
Keep them away from the fruit bowl. Fruit gives off ethylene gas, which is sometimes used to ripen tomatoes and will do the same to your blooms.
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