Love in bloom: keeping roses petal fresh

February 12, 1993|By Daniel M. Amdur

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, there will soon be millions of happy rose recipients beaming with joy. But be warned! Roses, after all, are an especially sensitive flora, not to be handled haphazardly.

So for those of you lacking flower finesse, here are some helpful hints to keep your roses upright.

Whatever the color -- red, yellow, pink or white -- roses take top billing at Valentine's Day, and require special treatment.

"A rose by any other name is not the same," says Christine Cogliano, the owner of Red Rose florist in Pasadena. "There's a lot of different kinds of flowers out there that have to be taken care of differently."

According to Ms. Cogliano, the average rose will live three to seven days in your home, if they are kept in a cool spot. Roses left next to heating vents or on top of the television will either open up quickly or wilt.

When roses are first brought home, they should be placed in luke-warm water, and any leaves below the waterline removed, says Ms. Cogliano.

Heidi Carey, floral design manager at Greening of America, recommends cutting 1/2 -inch to an inch of the stem every other day, including the first day they are received. Cutting should be done with a sharp knife at a steep angle with the stem submerged in water, says Ms. Carey, otherwise air bubbles will travel up the stem and cause the head to droop. Changing the water with each cutting is also a good way to keep the rose fit and fresh as long as possible.

Many stores send their roses out with packaged preservatives, which should be added every other day. However, if you don't have this floral supplement, half an aspirin or even 1/4 teaspoon of sugar will do the trick, says Ms. Carey.

If you put your rose on a windowsill, put it in a colored vase, adds Ms. Carey, because sunlight can cause damaging bacteria to grow two to three times as fast in a clear glass vase.

Sometimes a rose does not open no matter how meticulous the attention it receives. However, before you blame the florist, make sure you check what kind of rose you've received. Some varieties of roses don't bloom fully, warns Ms. Carey, and, therefore, partially closed petals may not mean a defective flower.

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