2007-02-09 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

A Guide To Valentines Roses: She loves me… she loves me not… she loves me
Commentary by Danielle McShane Rockaway Florist

DANIELLE McSHANEDANIELLE McSHANE Many of you will be calling your local florist this week to order roses for Valentines Day. Very few of you know what is actually involved in getting these gorgeous blooms into your home.

It all begins at the farm. Ecuador is one of the best places to import roses from because of the ideal growing conditions and high altitude. It is rich with volcanic soils and the water irrigation comes from pure and natural sources. The weather is generally mild, and rather than changing seasons, Ecuador experiences wet and dry periods, with warm temperatures of about 78 degrees and twelve hours of sunlight each day. The evenings are much cooler, averaging about 55 degrees. A rose bush couldn't get more comfortable!

Before sunrise, the growers begin to maintain their plants, and harvest flowers that have matured to their cutting point. The roses are classified by grade, and then packaged to protect the petals and their foliage. The grade of a rose is determined by the length of the stem, the size and fullness of the petals, the life expectancy, and the overall quality of each flower. The higher the quality, the more exceptional the grade, and of course, the higher the price.

Any roses that do not meet standards are recycled to make prime fertilizer for the farm. The quality roses are then boxed and shipped. Storing flowers in the dark causes the blooms to go dormant, and the cool temperatures help to preserve them during shipment.

Upon their arrival, they must be approved by customs, and they are soon on their way to the flower shop! When they first arrive, the thorns are cleaned and the outer petals are removed. These are the "protective petals" that grow thicker than the others. They form a shield to protect the rose from damage during growth. After cleaning them, the roses are cut on a 45 degree angle, placed in a hydrating solution, and left at room temperature to revive. After hydration, they are stored at 38 degrees for preservation until they are artfully designed and delivered to your door!

If your roses are arranged in a bouquet, remove the water tubes, trim the stems on all of the flowers including the filler and greens, and place in a vase of water. For the best care of your roses, keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct heat and sunlight. Every two days, give the stems a fresh cut and place in clean, cool water.

In contrary to what many believe, the life expectancy of a rose is not determined by how tight the petals are, but rather by the grade of the flower. Oftentimes, roses that come to a very tight, closed point on the end, never open. "Open - cut" roses have petals that grow with fullness, and look as though they have begun to open. They always mature to a full bloom, and their quality promises a full head of large petals for you to enjoy. It is hard for the average eye to see the difference between the two, so be sure to order your roses from a florist that you can trust. Quality should always be first when sending a bouquet to show your love!

I wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day!

Feel free to write to DaniellesRock awayFlorist@yahoo.com with gardening questions or tips for our readers!

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