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Caring For Valentine’s Day Roses

No other flower evokes quite the same kind of romantic message.

Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend this year which will be an advantage to those who want to celebrate the occasion in style. One of the most enduring symbols of this day of romance is the red rose; no other flower evokes quite the same kind of romantic message or speaks so emphatically about love and passion. Just as we want to ensure that love and relationships last forever, so do we want these beautiful flowers to keep their beauty for as long as possible.

How does one extend the vase life of roses to ensure that the memories are kept alive for as long as possible and that the beauty of these ever-popular cut flowers can be enjoyed for an extended period of time? The first thing to remember is that they are live, cut flowers and therefore they must have water at all times. The minute the roses are taken out of their wrapping they should be placed in water, but before doing this, a centimetre or two should be snipped off the bottoms of the stems to ensure that any calloused-over ends are removed and the roses will be able to take up water.

Any damaged foliage should be removed as well as any leaves that will be below the water line in the vase. These will rot, and as they do so will add bacteria to the water which will shorten the vase life of the flowers. To prevent bacteria from developing in the water and to keep it sweet, floral preservative should be added to the water before the flowers are arranged in the vase. Most florists will include a packet of floral preservative with the flowers, so be sure to look for it as you unwrap them. Use tepid water, not cold, as the roses will be able to take up water faster if it is warm.

Top up the water in the vase daily as it is used. If the water had floral preservative added to it, the water should not have to be changed. If you notice a discolouration or off odour in the water however, change it. If the water is changed, it is often a good idea to again cut a bit off the bottoms of the stems and be sure that floral preservative is added to the fresh water. If you don’t have more preservative, you can make your own.

The ingredients of a floral preservative include an acidifier to enhance the ability of the cut flowers to take up water, a food source, and a disinfectant to inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi and algae. One recipe is to add 4 tablespoons of white vinegar (the acidifier), 2 tablespoons of white sugar (the food source), and a couple of drops of bleach (the disinfectant) to one litre of water. Mix the ingredients before putting the mixture into the vase; a smaller quantity can be made as long as the proportions of the ingredients remain the same. Another recipe is to use a

half-and-half mixture of water and clear lemon-lime pop (not diet). This recipe does not have a disinfectant so the mixture should be changed every day or so.

Like any other cut flowers, roses will keep longer if they are not exposed to high temperatures, so locate the vase in as cool a spot as possible and never place the vase in direct sunlight. At night the flowers might even be taken to a quite-cool location, such as a heated garage or cool basement.

Keep the romance of Valentine’s Day alive for a few days at least by making sure that your Valentine’s Day roses receive proper care, and enjoy the exquisite beauty of these wonderful cut flowers.

– Albert Parsons writes from

Minnedosa, Manitoba

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