Rose – Care and Handling

Floral Specialistrecent, Roses

Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us. It is estimated that more than 250 million roses are produced for Valentine’s Day with red roses leading purchases at 69%. Since roses are a V-day staple, here are some tips to protect your investment and keep them looking the best this holiday.

Upon Arrival

  • Cut, don’t pull the sleeve and bands from flowers. Pulling may damage them.
  • Do not unpack more flowers than you can process within 30 minutes. They should not be left on tables or in boxes at room temperature.
  • Place unopened boxes in a floral cooler. Prevent the bottom of the box from getting wet by placing it on a pallet or shelf.


  • After receiving the roses, remove the leaves on the lower part of the stem that will be below the waterline. It is not recommended to remove more than 1/3 of the foliage. They need their leaves to help “pump” water up the stem.
  • Use extreme caution to remove thorns from the stems. Leaf and stem wounds allow air bubbles to enter the stem and impede water uptake.
  • Make sure all containers have been cleaned with an approved floral sanitizer like Floralife’s DCD Cleaner which creates a protective coating that keeps on working over many days. It does not break down or evaporate like bleach.
  • Mix the proper amount of flower food in fresh water as per instructions that amount of water. If using Floralife® Express Universal, you can place directly into prepared buckets. Do not use softened water.
  • Cut stems at an angle of at least 1/2 to 1 inch with a sharp utensil and do not crush the stems. Pre-treat with Floralife® Quick Dip 100 hydration solution. This one-second dip helps to increase water uptake for all flowers and prevents bent neck. Pre-treatment is especially important during a rose holiday. Place immediately in the prepared container.
  • Let the roses hydrate outside the cooler for about 1.5 hours and then in the cooler for 6 hours before designing. This allows the rose to properly hydrate and “wake up” after the transport stage.

Additional Tips

  • Don’t crowd too many stems in the bucket and allow plenty of space. Water droplets and moisture build-up can lead to fungus, also known as botrytis.
  • Check all buckets daily and continue to change the water regularly (every 2-3 days.)
  • Follow proper FIFO (first in first out) when rotating the flowers in and out of the store.
  • Remember to check the cooler temperature daily. The ideal temperature should be between 34 ̊ F – 38 ̊ F. DO NOT store flowers near fruit that produce too much ethylene.
  • Keep flowers away from a spot that is too hot (direct sunlight), cold or drafty.
  • Immediately remove flowers that show signs of disease.
  • Do not use flower food in crystal or metal containers.
  • Always give a packet of flower food with your designs. Inform your customers of at-home flower care.

Garden Rose Care

Here are a few keynotes on the special care & handling of Garden Roses from our friends at Alexandra Farms:

  • ALWAYS remove the cardboard sleeve before putting garden roses in water.
    Why is this important? As garden roses hydrate, the bloom head gets larger. Leaving them confined within the cardboard sleeve can damage the petals as the bloom head hydrates and grows.
  • You should still cut an inch or more from the bottom of the stem even if you are using a no-cut solution.
  • Most garden roses will be at their best four days after being placed in water. The impact is tremendous when you give the flowers time to open before using them.
  • Less is More when it comes to garden roses. What does this mean? They perform better and look more beautiful when you take as little as possible off of the stem. This means only removing foliage and thorns that will be below the waterline. The real key is to do whatever paring and pruning need to be done with minimal damage to the rose. To remove thorns, they recommend using the flexible plastic stripper and pulling from the top to the bottom.
  • Guard Petals.. should you remove them? These outer petals also have a protective function—that’s why they’re called “guard petals.” With any roses, if the guard petals are truly damaged or appear to be already in a state of decay, they should be carefully removed. But if they are simply a different color, perhaps slightly tougher in texture, consider leaving them in place. In the fully open rose, often the outer petals are pushed down so that from above, only the edges are visible.

To read more details on garden rose care & handling, please visit Alexandra Farms website links:  Processing Garden Roses & Care & Handling