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Extension Service: Extend the beauty of Valentine’s Day roses

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Valentine’s Day is a day steeped in tradition. Chocolate, candy, cards and flowers are all customary Valentine’s Day gifts. One of the most popular traditions is giving roses to your valentine. However, these roses can often begin to wilt and droop soon after buying them. There are a few things that can help extend the life of the roses. By properly selecting and caring for these roses, your significant other can enjoy them long after Feb. 14.

Selecting Ideal Roses

The most important step when selecting flowers is flower quality. Lucy Edwards, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System coordinator for Chilton County, said there are certain things to look for in a bouquet before purchasing. Ensuring that all of these qualities are present when purchasing roses will allow the beauty of the rose to shine longer. Items to look for in roses include the following:

  • Straight stems
  • Support of the bloom without assistance of a wire
  • Lack of insect problems, disease and discolored growths
  • Flower buds that are partially opened and showing color
  • Lack of damage to flowers, leaves or stems

Caring for Roses

Proper care after purchasing your roses can extend their life by seven to 10 days. Edwards said it is always best to keep roses in water.

“Consider taking a vase with you when you buy the roses or have one ready when you arrive home,” Edwards said. “Washing the vase with warm soapy water prior to use will help prolong the life of the roses.”

When your vase is clean, fill it with water and fresh floral food. Using warm water will speed up the roses’ ability to absorb both the water and the food. Make note that most floral food requires approximately 8 ounces of water, though larger vases will require more food and water.

Before you arrange the roses in the vase, an important aspect of care is trimming the ends of the rose stems. To do this, submerge the bottom 3 inches of the stems in water and cut off 1 to 2 inches with a shear or sharp knife. The angle of the cut does not matter as much as cutting the stem under the water.

Mallory Kelley, a home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent, said there is another important thing to remember as you begin arranging flowers in the vase.

“Stripping the leaves off of the stem so that only the stems are submerged in the water is key,” Kelley said. “More plant material in the water and more decay will cause the flowers to wilt and droop more quickly.”

Once trimmed, place the roses in the vase and arrange to your liking. The floral food and water mixture should last for several days. Empty the vase and replace the mixture as needed (approximately every two to three days).

Kelley said it is important to avoid letting the water drip onto the blooms, as it will cause brown spots on the blooms—especially on roses.

“Some types of flowers will live longer than others,” Kelley said. “So when a bloom in a bouquet looks spent, go ahead and remove it. Then replace the water to keep the water as fresh and bacteria-free as possible.”

Flower life can be prolonged in a refrigerator or commercial cooler.

“If you are not ready to display your roses yet, refrigerating the bouquet can slow down the rose’s metabolism,” Edwards said. “However, don’t store the bouquet next to fruit because it can cause the blooms to decay.”

More Information

Following these tips and tricks will ensure that your Valentine’s Day roses will last well past Feb. 14. For more information on selection and care of roses, or other gardening topics, contact an Alabama Extension home grounds regional agent in your area. Find their contact information in the directory at www.aces.edu.

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