“Care tips for your Valentine’s Day roses that will result in the longest-lasting blooms possible for your customers.”

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and the most iconic expression of adoration for lovebirds is … roses, of course. Most florists will agree that right after ringing in the new year, they are busily gearing up for the rush to come.
Generally, shipments of fresh cut roses are received at flower shops five to seven days prior to Valentine’s Day, with the biggest volume being picked up or delivered on Feb. 13 and 14. Getting all those gorgeous roses from farms and into consumers’ hands in peak condition takes superior care and handling, especially with the extended shipping and storage period needed to meet the increased demand.
The challenges faced by rose suppliers throughout the year at every point in the distribution chain are pathogen and ethylene control, temperature management, and correct care and handling. Even though the challenges remain the same, the increased demand for roses at Valentine’s Day means that suppliers have to extend their harvest and storage periods. The additional days needed to ensure that enough roses are available in the market also means that it is necessary to be more vigilant than ever ensuring every measure is taken to preserve and care for roses along their journey to fresh.Here’s how to get roses to your customers fresh.

Good temperature management

Getting roses to your store fresh means special attention to good temperature management. This is critical throughout the distribution chain to the quality, freshness and ultimate longevity of the flowers. Cut roses need continuous refrigeration at 34 F to 38 F, with 75 percent to 85 percent relative humidity. Maintaining low temperature and high humidity from farm to florist is important to minimize water loss (respiration/transpiration) and to maximize vase life.

In store

This is perhaps the most critical crossroad for roses on their Valentine’s Day journey. Once roses reach retail florist shops, they have likely been harvested and stored for longer periods than usual. It’s at this stage of the game that roses need the most TLC to perform their best.

1. Disease prevention

Preventing diseases, such as Botrytis, requires constant monitoring. Control measures include:
• Temperature management                                                                                                                                                                                            • Minimizing or eliminating temperature fluctuations
• Proper sanitation                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Gently removing all grower packaging from bunches when unpacking boxes
• Avoiding getting flower blooms wet                                                                                                                                                                            • Avoiding touching or handling flowers by their blooms
• Avoiding dropping or throwing flower boxes to prevent physical damage
• Avoiding storing or displaying cut flowers near ripening produce or other products that produce ethylene
• Making sure your supplier has treated your cut flowers with an ethylene action inhibitor.

2. Sanitation

Clean and sanitize your buckets; tools; work surfaces; and cooler walls, floors and shelves with a professional cleaning and sanitizing product formulated specifically for the floral industry. Unlike bleach, professional floral products have a residual effect that helps keep these items clean and sanitized for days after treatment. This is your best weapon to combat bacteria and minimize exposure to pathogens.

3. Hydrate and Nourish

After such a long journey, roses need to be properly hydrated and nourished, especially when received dry pack. Using a flower-food solution will provide flowers with what they need to flourish. For best results, when processing dry pack or reprocessing roses, cut and dip stems in an instant hydrating treatment to jump-start hydration and ensure free-flowing stems. This is a must to help prevent bent necks in roses. Receiving roses wet pack? Be sure to check water levels, and add flower-food solution, if needed. Always follow packaging instructions for proper dosing.
When using a traditional cut flower food, recut flower stems approximately 1 inch, using a sharp sanitized knife or clippers. Then immediately place the freshly cut flower stems into a properly proportioned flower-food solution made with cold water. Use a dosing unit that is properly calibrated, or hand mix the solution according to label instructions. Flowers need to be nourished to ensure maximum quality and enjoyment.

4. Protect

Use a professional finishing spray to refresh, hydrate and protect your flowers. They’re quick and easy to apply, and this is a final step before your arrangements go out the door. A simple fine-mist spray is all it takes to maximize customer satisfaction and extend the enjoyment of receiving flowers.

5. Customer care

You’ve done everything right; now it’s up to your customer to make those roses last at home. Buying roses can be intimidating to some. As the flower expert, offer lots of advice on the steps to follow at home. Educate your customers or the recipients of your flowers on how to care for them. Caution customers about placing flowers in direct sunlight, drafty places, or near heating and cooling vents. Remind them to change the flower-food solution every three days. And provide flower-food packets with every purchase and delivery – enough to enable consumers to change the solution throughout the life of the arrangement or bouquet. This is your best insurance policy to guarantee that the freshness will continue.
A happy customer, especially at Valentine’s Day, will likely be a repeat customer. Sometimes Valentine’s Day is the only time during the year that someone might purchase roses, and this may be your one and only shot to make an impression. Be sure to send your customers home armed with not only flower-food packets but also the confidence to use them.
Educating your customers before they leave the store on how to care for their roses and make them last will help them have an amazing experience and bring them back to you when it’s time for them to buy roses again. seasonal elements with nontraditional colors can transform the product that is available into splendid holiday décor!

Floralife, a division of Smithers-Oasis Company, is a worldwide leader in postharvest flower care and handling. Inventors of the first cut flower food in 1938, Floralife has developed products to feed, hydrate, nourish and protect cut flowers at every level in the distribution chain. To learn more about cut flower care and handling, visit floralife.com.

Jim Daly is the vice president of Global Floralife & Grower Operations and Corporate Research for Smithers-Oasis Company. He is a leader in the research and development of postharvest care and handling products, and he has worked with the flower and plant markets in more than 30 countries. Jim has published many articles in the floral industry, he co-authored SAF’s Flower and Plant Care manual and wrote the Floralife Care and Handling manual, and he has conducted seminars on care and handling around the world. Jim also has served on numerous committees for the Society of American Florists (SAF) and is chairman of the American Floral Endowment (AFE).