Getting Quality Flowers On Valentine’s Day

February 9, 2010

By Angie Moreschi:

There’s nothing like getting a beautiful bouquet of flowers, especially on Valentine’s Day.  But let’s face it.  If you’re the one sending the flowers and dishing out the dollars, there’s always a little anxiety involved.  How do you know you’re getting quality? What makes one dozen roses last for a week or more, while another lasts for only a few days?  We went to a floral expert to find out.  Click here to watch Angie Moreschi’s report.

Dozen RosesWhether you’re looking for something exotic or more traditional, quality flowers that last are important to everyone. We paid a visit to “Downtown’s Florist” in Tampa to get some pointers from owner Ginger Houser on what makes for quality roses.

It’s All in the Processing

Most roses come to the United States from South America, shipped in a box.  From there, florist Ginger Houser says how they’re processed is the most important factor in how long they last.

First, she says cutting the stems at an angle under water is key.  “By cutting them underwater, they’re trimmed, and the first thing they get is water.  There’s no chance for air to get in there to block the passageway.” she explains.  “It’s like there are straws in the stems of the flowers, and the water has to get up.”

It’s also important for the water to have a preservative in it, like Floralife, and that the roses are left out to breathe and hydrate, absorbing those nutrients, for a couple of hours.  Houser says roses that have been processed properly should last a good seven days.

Watch Out for Bullets

Every once in a while you’re gonna get what’s called a bullet.  That’s a tight rose bud, that’s kind of a dud.  One that never really opens.  Houser says it’s not always a sign of bad quality, but it can be.  “It’s part of nature,” she says, “but if a florist sends you a whole bouquet of bullets that is a problem.  If I saw that I had bullets, I wouldn’t send them out, because I don’t want to be known for that.”


When it comes to cost, you pay for length.  The longer the stem, the higher the price.  A true long-stemmed rose should be no shorter than about 20 inches.  “The cheaper ones are gonna be short.  You can arrange them in a vase, and they’ll be nice, they’re just not as big and bold as long stemmed, depending on what you want,” she said.

Prices can vary from region to region.  Houser says in Tampa an average bouquet of a dozen long-stemmed roses would go for about $79.95, but in New York, you’d pay a lot more, like $125.  When it comes to getting roses really cheap, like 20 bucks a dozen, Houser says beware.  “Those haven’t been processed, she says, “and they’re inferior.”  How long will they last?  “Basically overnight.”

Putting Online & 1-800 Services to the Test

And what about ordering flowers online or calling through services like pro-flowers, 1-800-flowers or FTD?  Houser says it’s hit or miss. “It’s like anything else on the internet, you’re taking your chances.  It might be great.  It might be terrible.”

Consumer Warning Network decided to put those 1-800 and online flower ordering services to the test to see just how convenient they are and what exactly you get for your money.  We ordered a dozen long stemmed roses from five different services, including a local florist.

Check back later this week to see how each one fares.

Always Demand Satisfaction

No matter who you order from, if you’re not satisfied, call to let them.  A good florist will want to make it right and send you a new bouquet.

5 Tips to Make Flowers Last Longer

  • Change the water everyday
  • Re-cut the stems at an angle every 2 or 3 days
  • Use a floral nutrient in the water
  • If you don’t have Floralife or another preservative, try a tablespoon of Sprite and a very tiny drop of Clorox in the water (to help reduce bacteria growth in the water)
  • Pull dying leaves off the stems