Choose the perfect roses this Valentine’s Day

Red and white roses (Alabama Cooperative Extension System)

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Many traditions are associated with Valentine’s Day year after year. One of the most popular is providing roses for loved ones. It is often disappointing when the beauty of roses lasts only for a day, quickly beginning to wilt when petals begin to droop. Properly caring for roses can allow for their beauty to be enjoyed for much longer than just Feb. 14.

Selecting ideal roses

The first step to ensure the beauty of roses lasts is proper selection. There are certain things to look for in these flowers that indicate they are of the best quality. These include:

  • Straight stems
  • Support of the bloom without assistance of a wire
  • Lack of insect problems, disease and discolored growths
  • Flower buds that are partially opened and showing color
  • Lack of damage to flowers, leaves or stems


Ensuring that all of these qualities are present when purchasing roses will allow their beauty to shine well past Valentine’s Day.

Care and handling of roses

Proper care and handling of roses can ensure enjoyment past the holiday. Proper care and handling after purchase can extend the life of roses by 7-10 days. Begin by filling a vase with water and fresh floral food. Using warm water will speed up the ability of roses to absorb both the water and the food. Make note that most floral food requires approximately 8 oz. of water, though larger vases will require more food and water.

Extension specialists know a few tricks to promote proper care and handling of roses once they make it to a vase. These include adding 1/4 cup of clear soda or tonic water inside the vase and adding a crushed aspirin to the water. Adding either a cube of sugar or a penny to the vase of water is another tip some Extension specialists recommend. These tips help to extend bloom time and overall flower life.

Submerge the bottom three inches of rose stems in water when in a vase. Once they have soaked, cutting off 1-2 inches of the bottom stems with a shear or sharp knife should be done. This combination of warm water and floral food should last for several days. The combination should be replaced as needed, as roses require lots of water. This can occur as often as every two to three days.

More information

Following these tips and tricks will ensure that Valentine’s Day roses last well past Feb. 14. For more information on selection, care and handling of roses, visit or contact your county Extension office.