ultimate rose care
Faithfully following these eight simple steps will ensure your roses are the best-looking, longest-lasting ones in town.
1 Buy the right roses. Purchase roses only from reputable growers and wholesalers who consistently deliver the highest-quality flowers. Make sure the roses are pretreated at the grower or during shipping for common problems such as ethylene damage and disease, and make sure they are transported following “cold chain” guidelines.
• Get to know which rose varieties open and last the best, and purchase only those varieties. All rose varieties do not perform the same; some last longer than others. The vase life of cut roses can vary from four to 20 days, and some varieties can stay in the bud stage and never open.
• Order roses by variety name, not color. Remember, though, that roses of one variety can differ vastly in appearance and performance based on growing method and the region in which they are grown.
• Purchase only roses that have a firm feel, turgid stems and healthy green foliage.
2 Unpack roses promptly. Unpack roses immediately upon their arrival in your shop, and inspect them for damage or problems. Look for wilt, yellowed leaves, Botrytis (a fungal disease—gray mold—on leaves and petals) and any other abnormalities. Begin processing roses immediately following your quality check, to reduce water stress.
If you absolutely cannot attend to your roses immediately, store the box(es) in a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F for as short a time as possible. Water deprivation and room temperatures can result in greatly reduced vase life, severe Botrytis on petals, and flowers that either open too rapidly or fail to open at all.
3 Clean tools and work surfaces. Sterilize containers, cutting tools and cutting areas with a professional antibacterial cleaner, before processing roses. Bacteria will contaminate floral solutions and, ultimately, clog flower stems, inhibiting water uptake.
4 Remove lower leaves and thorns. Carefully remove any foliage and thorns from rose stems that will be under water when they’re placed into storage containers. Remove only the foliage that will fall below the water line because the leaves are beneficial to the flowers. Also be careful to not nick, scrape or otherwise puncture the “bark” because this impedes water uptake and allows microorganisms to enter the flower’s vascular system.
5 Give stems a fresh cut. Using only clean, sharp knives or cutters, remove at least 1 inch from the stem ends. If you use an underwater cutter, it’s imperative that you change the water frequently to keep bacteria levels low to prevent stem ends from becoming reclogged.
6 Hydrate and nourish. Immediately after cutting, dip or place stems into a hydration solution.
Next place the stems into sterile containers partially filled with warm (100 F to 110 F) properly proportioned flower-food solution—ideally made with a rose-specific flower food, which, reportedly, can extend the vase life of roses two to four days more than regular flower food.
When mixed and used properly, flower food nearly doubles the vase life of cut roses, reduces bent neck, maintains color, and prevents leaf and petal drop.
7 Refrigerate rose rapidly. Immediately following processing, place roses into a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F, with at least 85 percent to 90 percent humidity, for at least two hours before selling or arranging them. This will allow them to hydrate properly. Continue to store/display roses in a floral cooler to slow aging. Research shows that displaying roses at room temperature (70 F) for just two days can reduce vase life by four days.
Also, be sure to monitor cooler temperature twice daily, and change the vase water and recut rose stems every other day.
8 Help customers care for roses. Provide customers and recipients with rose flower-food packets as well as instructions on how to care for their roses. Instruct them to display roses away from heat sources and to recut stems and change the water every other day. These actions will increase roses’ vase life and enhance consumers’ and recipients’ satisfaction.