One of the most overused phrases in interior design is "bring the outside in." The easiest ways to accomplish this task is with fresh flowers. The colors and smells can fill your home and brighten any day, or complete any tablescape.

But there is a trade off, for many of us once the flowers are cut, it is not long before they wilt and die. Yes, it is inevitable, but you can increase their lifespan with some very simple tips. If you're lucky, you can make Spring last on into Summer.

For more information on the care and preservation of cut flowers, see below.

1. This may seem obvious, but make sure that the vessel that you want to use is of appropriate size and weight for the flowers you have chosen. Tall flowers require a vase that has been weighted in the bottom, and won’t be easily turned over.

2. Make sure that the vase will hold enough water for the bouquet you are creating. You might be surprised at how fast the water can be absorbed from a vase that is too small.

3. The water in the vase needs to be refreshed often. And I don’t mean just topping off. Every two days the water should be changed completely.

4. When you change the water, add nutrients. This will greatly increase the longevity of the blossoms.

5. The temperature of the water that you use is also very important. If you want to force the blossoms, use warm water, but remember, this will also shorten their lives. Cool water slows development and lengthens the lives of your flowers. But keep in mind that extremes in either direction can damage the stem. Try to aim for water that is slightly cool to the touch.

1. Cut the stems under water. A damaged stem tries to heal itself very quickly. It will soon seal over in order to prevent any further loss of water. When you cut in a bowl, or under the tap you prevent this blockage from happening.

2. Use a sharp pair of scissors or a knife and cut along a diagonal. The diagonal cut actually opens up more surface area through which the plant can absorb water. If the plant has a woody stem (azaleas, dogwoods) take a hammer and mash the bottom of the stem (about one inch). This also opens up more area for water absorption.

3. Remove any leaves that would be under the water line. If they are left on, they have a tendency to rot and they will cause the flower to wilt. Do leave thorns on a rose. That will definitely lengthen its life.

4. Some flowers can be cut as buds and they will open in the vase (roses, daffodils, irises, and gladiolus).
Here is a partial list of popular flowers and when best to cut them.

Anemone 1⁄2 to fully open
Aster 3⁄4 to fully open
Azalea fully open
Bachelor's Button 1⁄2 to fully open
Bleeding Heart 4-5 florets open
Calendula fully open
Carnation fully open
Chrysanthemum Fully open
Daffodils when color shows in bud
Dahlia fully open
Daisy 1⁄2 to fully open
Delphinium 3⁄4 to fully open
Gladiolus as second floret opens
Iris as first bud opens
Lilac 1⁄2 to fully open
Lily as first bud opens
Marigold fully open
Peony bud in color or fully open
Rose as second petal unfurls
Tulip bud to 1⁄2 open
Zinnia Fully open

1. When you cut the flowers you have to replace all of the nutrients that they would have otherwise have gotten from the soil. Floral preservatives are your best bet. Normally, it comes with purchase flowers but you can find it at your local nursery.

2. These preservatives contain sugar for the energy of the plant, bacteriocides, and other chemicals that keep the water acidic, which increases water uptake through the stem. Be sure and follow the instructions for best results.

3. If you are in a pinch, add a teaspoon of sugar to the water. Most other home remedies are pretty hit and miss. An aspirin will acidify the water, so it does increase water uptake, but does not really feed the flower. Bleach will keep bacteria at bay, but little else.

1. You have a decision to make. Should you place the flowers where they might last the longest, or where they might look the best. Of course that is entirely up to you. But whatever you do, clean the vase first! If you start this process with a tainted vessel, everything else you do will be for naught.

2. Flowers love fresh air, so placement by an open window where there is plenty of circulation is ideal. And much like humans, flowers do not respond well to cigarette smoke.

3. Although plants like light, they do not need direct sunlight. This could cause your bouquet to dry out prematurely. The best is a place that receives indirect sun, and remains cool during the day.

1. The lifespan of the blossoms also related to the type of plant that you choose. Some just perform better as arrangement flowers than others. Four to seven days is about the average.

2. With good conditions, and the right flowers you can count on a beautiful bouquet for as long as three weeks. Carnations, if cut right after they open are always surprisingly longlived.

3. Here is a brief list of average life spans for these cut flowers: one week : dahlia, delphinium, gerber daisy, iris; ten days : gladiolus, liatris, statice; over ten days: babies’ breath, carnations, Shasta daisy, strawflowers.

4. Some flowers brown when handled. Gardenias are notorious for this. Washing your hands before touching them will help, Lemon juice on the blossoms will also keep them from browning.

5. Cut flowers and fruit do not make good vase-fellows. Ripening fruit gives off ethylene gas which will cause your flowers to wilt early. Carnations and lilies are especially sensitive.