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Buying Fresh Cut Roses & Caring For Them At Home

by Sandi Walters

image of blush rose

On my day job as a floral designer, I have noticed that many of our customers seem to have similar questions regarding cut flower roses. Here are some helpful tips on buying and caring for fresh cut roses.

Roses are priced from the grower--->to wholesaler--->to retailer--->to consumer, based on stem length. The longer the stem, the higher the price per stem.

When you purchase roses, do look for the ones that are just cracked open. This rose probably came in a day or two ago. The more cracked the rose, sometimes, may indicate the older the rose. If they are fully blown opened,(you can see inside to the middle of the rose), they don't have too much longer to live. Do not purchase roses that are fully closed. The florist has no way of knowing in advance if a rose will open until it does. Some roses will never crack open. The petals just drop off never fully opening and the head just gets smaller and smaller. This type of rose is called a "bullet head". I know, I know, a few of the teenage girls think they are "soooo cute".

However, some varieties or colors crack open very quickly while still young. Osiana comes to mind. They can fully open up within two days or less, but the scent is sheer delight. White roses have a tendency to "blow" open quickly and turn brown around the edges. Some lavender varieties are another that can open fully within a day or two. Question your florist. Is it the age of the rose, the variety or a particular color?

When you get home, place your roses in a clean vase of very cool or cold water. A rose's response to warmth is to die quicker.

This reminds me, never place any cut flowers on the radiator. Yes, even if you have a radiator cover. The heat from the radiator, heats up the water, which cooks the flowers.

Keep roses out of direct sunlight. Again, fresh cut roses do not like heat. Change the water at least every other day. If necessary, re-cut the stems. When bottom of stems looks brownish or becomes soft and pliable, it is time to re-cut. Please use your garden pruners (that is what florists use) and re-cut on a 45 degree angle. Dull knives and scissors crushes the stem instead of cutting cleanly. This inhibits water uptake. The 45 degree angle exposes more of the inner stem cells to water.

Roses are fanatically in love with water. They will thank you if you give them very cool water and if you look closely, will turn a handspring or two if you give them cold water.

About that flower food. When the flowers come in, your florist must clean, then condition them. This involves giving the flowers, food plus hydration, among other things, which "hardens" them off.

They really don't need too much of anything else after this point, but very cool or cold water, changed frequently. Your florist has done all the hard work for you. If you wish to use flower food then make sure it is diluted. Too much food can kill them. The packet of food that comes with the flowers can be broken up into approximately four to six uses. Sprinkle just a tiny amount in the vase, then add water. This helps mixes the food with the water.

Oh, and some more about flower food. The flowers do not need aspirin. You have the headache, not them. Sugar, 7-Up, Ginger ale are also no-no. Copper pennies do not seem to do anything for roses, and egg shell water just stinks up the house.

The acid from the aspirin and sugars from the soft drinks have a tendency to build up bacteria rather quickly, causing the flowers to die sooner. You can tell this by looking at the water. The milkier the water, the more, bacteria is present. The industry developed food is balanced to give the flowers nutrients plus keep down the bacterial build up. But you must still change the water.

Remove any petals, foliage, or filler that may fall down into the water. This also causes bacterial build-up. Keep your vases clean. When the flowers are finished, clean the vase right then and there. Wash out with hot soapy water and scrub away any gook or gunk that might have built up on the inside of the vase. It's easier to remove the gook when it's soft.

If there is a lot of hard gook, the easiest way is to fill the vase with hot water and a small amount of bleach. Soak for at least 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. If the vase has a serious build up, scrub, then rinse. Repeat if necessary. In the floral industry, vases or containers are considered clean, only if you are willing to drink out of them.

In closing, remember in the world of fresh cut flowers, roses are not known for a very long vase life. Using the above tips should prolong the vase life and most importantly, your enjoyment.

This article authored by Sandra Walters. No part maybe reproduced, copied, or reprinted without expressed permission.

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