fresh flower


Tips for getting the longest life from Americans' favorite flower.


1 only the best will do.
The life expectancy of cut roses is strongly influenced by their growing environment and the shipping and handling procedures employed from farm to florist. Therefore, 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 shipper level for common problems such as ethylene damage and disease.

2 a rose is a rose—not. All rose varieties do not perform the same; some just 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. Get to know which rose varieties open and last the best, and purchase only those varieties.

3 smart buy. Order roses by variety name, not color. Roses of one variety can differ vastly in appearance and performance based on the region in which they are grown. In addition, purchase only roses that have a firm feel, turgid stems and healthy green foliage. Avoid bunches with soft flower heads, fully opened flowers, flower heads with mold or rot, damaged or diseased foliage, or limp stems.

4 life saver. Roses must be processed immediately upon arrival in your shop to alleviate water stress. If you cannot attend to them 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 disease on petals, and flowers that either open too rapidly or fail to open at all.

5 germophobes. Sterilize containers, cutting tools and cutting areas with an antibacterial cleaner before processing roses. Bacteria will contaminate floral solutions and, ultimately, flower stems, clogging them and inhibiting water uptake. Professional floral bucket cleaners are available, but alternatively, chlorine bleach, kitchen sanitizing sprays and chlorine dioxide also are effective antibacterial agents.

6 careful amputation. Remove leaves and thorns that will fall below the water line in containers—but only those leaves because foliage is beneficial to the flowers. When removing leaves or thorns, do not puncture or strip away bark; this impedes water uptake and allows microorganisms to enter the flower’s vascular system.

7 solutions to problems. Recut the ends of the rose stems with a clean, sharp knife or snips, removing at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately dip or place the stems into a hydrating solution, then into sterile containers partially filled with warm (100 F to 110 F) properly proportioned flower food solution. You can cut stems in air as long as you place them into floral solution quickly after making the cuts, or you can cut stems underwater as long as you change the water frequently to keep it free of bacteria.

8 food for thought. 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. Ask your favorite supplier about flowers foods that are formulated specifically for roses.

9 cool counts. 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 designing with them. This will allow them to hydrate properly. Continue to store/display roses in a floral cooler to slow aging processes. Displaying roses at room temperature (70 F) for just two days can reduce vase life by four days. Monitor cooler temperature twice daily, and change the vase water and recut rose stems every other day.

10 consumer care. Provide customers and recipients with 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 the stems and change the water every other day.
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