The flower opens to expose the organs for sexual reproduction. The life of the flower is limited to the time needed for pollination and fertilization, but it is often commercially desirable to extend the life of a cut flower or flowering pot plant. In cut flowers, water uptake must be maintained and dissolved nutrients for opening the flower bud are termed an opening solution.
Vase life can be extended by the addition of sterilants and sugar to the water. A sterilant, e.g. silver nitrate, in the water can reduce the risk of blockage of xylem by bacterial or fungal growth. Ethylene has a considerable effect on flower development, and can bring about premature death (senescence) of the flower after it begins to open. Cut flowers should therefore never be stored near to fruit, e.g. apples or bananas, which produce ethylene. Some chemicals, such as sodium thiosulphate, reduce the production of ethylene in carnations and therefore extend their life.
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