Roses as cut flowers
Roses essentially bring enjoyment to the grower as well as all those to see their majestic blooms. Several gardeners prefer enjoying the roses grown by them twice – first when the flowers are in bloom in the garden and secondly, by using them as cut flowers to decorate their homes. In fact, if you cut the roses at the right time of the day and subsequently condition them, you will be able to take delight in these cut flowers for a longer period – often up to five days or even more after the flowers have been removed from the plants. Generally speaking, rose with more number of petals will open more slowly, but will last for relatively longer periods. Ideally, you should use double roses as cut flowers, for they not only look better, but also last longer.
On the other hand, when you use single-petalled roses as cut flowers, they will not only open relatively quickly, but also need to be replaced frequently. In addition to the single varieties with fewer petals, even old garden roses and shrub roses usually wilt quicker, as their petals do not have the substance – sturdiness and thickness, which are present in contemporary roses. Therefore, they are also not suitable for use as cut flowers. Apart from a rose’s form, you also need to take the blooming stage of the flowers into account. In fact, it has been found that roses cut after their sepals have detached from the bud and rolled downward and when the bud has become softer, but prior to the flowers’ central stamens becoming visible will also last longer as cut flowers. In case you find that the rose bud is still firm after you squeeze it, it is advisable that you should wait for a couple of days more before you cut it. If you cut a hard/ firm bud there are possibilities that it will not open after cutting.
The best time for cutting roses for use as cut flowers is later in the afternoon – a time when the plant’s sugar as well as nutrient content is at its peak. Moreover, you should cut the roses only from plants that have been watered well. If you follow these guidelines, your flowers will be having sufficient energy enabling them to develop as well as open normally. In addition, it will also help the flowers to last longer and also not wilt. If the weather conditions are hot and there is a possibility that the roses may be slightly dried out during the late afternoon, it is essential to water the plants adequately many hours prior to cutting the roses.
Use flower-cutting shears or pruning shears to cut the roses from the plants. Ensure that the cuttings are made at a 45° angle and above the first five leaflets just below the flower. You may keep the stem of the flower as long as you want – the only condition being that the main stem has no less than two sets of leaves to help in photosynthesis and provide the flower with food, in addition to future growth as well as flowering. When you go to the garden with the purpose of cutting the flowers, carry a bucket of water. You can keep the flowers in the water soon after cutting them. This is important as the flowers will not survive for long if their water uptake is disturbed for a prolonged period or if the stems become dry. They too will become dry and begin to wilt.
Immersing the leaves in water for a brief period will not cause any harm to them. On the contrary, it will also help them to absorb some moisture. While cutting off all the flowers of a plant at the same time will not cause any damage to the plant, it is advisable that you keep some flowers on the plant so that it does not lose its attractiveness. Moreover, some flowers on each plant will also add to the color and beauty of your garden. In fact, cutting the flowers will promote new growth of the plants and also help them to bloom again quickly. This is irrespective of the fact whether you are cutting new roses or faded flowers.
When you have finished cutting all the roses you want to, keeping the stems underwater in the bucket cut them once again at a slant with a view to enable them to absorb maximum water. Place the bucket containing the cut roses in a cool place, away from light – such as in your basement with a view to enable the flowers to get acclimatized before they are arranged in a vase. Allowing the roses to be conditioned helps them to become used to surviving even after being separated from their plants. This also helps the leaves to slow down their rate of respiration. It is advisable that you allow the cut roses to remain in the water bucket and in a cool, dark place for several hours, if possible for the entire night.
Alternatively, you may also keep the cut roses in a refrigerator with a view to allow them to become conditioned – provided the particular refrigerator is only meant for keeping roses and not any food item or other substance. Several foods, particularly fruits, which you store in your refrigerator, actually give out ethylene gas, which is basically a ripening agent that makes the cut flowers to open before the normal time.
Providing the cut flowers with somewhat acidic water is best for them. This is because acidic water helps to break the air bubbles created in the water by counterbalancing carbon dioxide (CO2). In fact, air bubbles are harmful for the cut flowers, as they may congest the capillaries present in the flower stems and, at the same time, stop the water from going into the flowers as well as the foliage. When the water is somewhat acidic, water moves more easily as well as faster through the stems. In case you do not know whether the water in your home/ garden is acidic, you may confirm this from the company supplying water to you.
In case the water that is being supplied to you is not acidic, you may add some lemon juice to it to make it acidic. Here is a warning – never use any water that has been softened synthetically, because it contains sodium which is toxic to roses. It is advisable that you should use cold water in most cases, because it helps to reduce speed of the leaves’ respiration. On the other hand, if you find that the cut flowers have gone flaccid as they have been kept without water for a prolonged period or because the stems of the cut flowers were not kept under water immediately after cutting them and the ends of the stems have become congested, you should use hot water. Using hot water in such circumstances helps to revive the stems and flowers more quickly compared to using cold water. It has been found that the stems are able to absorb hot water more easily and faster than cold water.
Prior to place the cut roses in a vase, you should get rid of all the leaves as well as thorns that will remain below the water level after the flower arrangement is complete. Allowing them to remain will make them disintegrate quickly, make the water foul-smelling and also cut short the viability of the cut flowers. You may use a special tool to strip the thorns or even remove them by hand. Then clean the lingering foliage with soap water if you find that there is a lot of dirt or spray residue on them. You may use a soft cloth, towel or even a nylon stocking to polish the leaves and make them shiny. Using small scissors, you can also manicure the leaves that seem to have been chewed or ripped.
Here is another tip – if you find that the roses you have cut are highly scented, ensure that you handle them with additional care. In fact, roses that have more scent have more glands that emit scent compared to other roses that are less aromatic. Therefore, it is not surprising that these glands can be bruised very easily.
It is advisable that you use a clean container to keep the flowers all the time. In addition, always put some floral preservative in the water. These will help to increase the life span of the cut roses. Floral preservatives are not only acidic, but also include sugar as well as an agent that retards bacteria and, therefore, they provide the cut flowers with some amount of nutrients, besides preventing and controlling the growth of bacteria that often shorten the flowers’ life span.
You can purchase these floral preservatives from any flower shop. In case you are not using any floral preservative, it is advisable that you blend any soft drink that is citrus-based and contains sugar in the form of a diluted solution containing three parts water and one part of the soft drink. Alternatively, you can prepare a solution with lemon juice (two tablespoons), sugar (one tablespoon) and household bleach (half tablespoon) in one quart water and add it to the water as a substitute for floral preservative. Always ensure that the container is filled with water, as this will decrease the risk of the water being used up by the roses or evaporate completely. It is also suggested that you should change the water every day, if possible. In addition, cut the stems of the roses that remain under the water a little every time you change the water in the container.
Roses are also pressed for various uses. In fact, pressed roses are excellent materials for use in collages, gift cards and even in small frames pictures. While you can press various different types of roses, pressing the flowers that are single or having less than 15 petals are ideal for this purpose. You may also press the rose buds.
The perfect way of pressing rose flowers or buds is to pick them fresh as well as dry. It is important to press the flowers and petals soon after they are picked. You can press them in a flower press or also use a heavy book for the purpose. Which ever method you adopt, it will take roughly two weeks to press rose flowers and buds completely.
If you wish to make a beautiful pressed-flower picture, the first thing you need is to purchase a picture frame having a class covering, and a stiff back. Remove the glass covering and use a white domestic glue to cover the back with a colored fabric of your choice. While you may use any variety of heavy material for the purpose, velveteen is a wonderful fabric for this purpose. However, before using the pressed flowers you need to draw a sketch of your preferred design. Next, use tweezers to hold the pressed rose flowers and foliage and place them on the fabric. Paste them on the fabric using household glue. Use a small brush or a toothpick to apply the glue lightly and evenly on the fabric to set the pressed flowers. Place the glass as well as the other parts of the frame in place only after the flower arrangement is complete and the adhesive has dried. Once the pressed rose flower picture is done, you may hang it at some prominent place in your house and take delight in your creation. Alternatively, you may gift it to someone.
A potpourri can be described as a combination of aromatic oils, dehydrated rose petals, different scents obtained from spices or herbs and occasionally other different dried flowers in addition to a fixative to maintain the aroma of these substances. While you can make potpourris with various different aromatic flowers, traditionally roses have been used as the major ingredient. In fact, the term potpourri has been derived from a French word, which when translated into English means rotten pot. The word has it origin in the practice of keeping rose petals with a view to allow them to mature and age.
Most people find it tempting to take delight in roses in their garden and, subsequently, collect the petals of the flowers when they are about to drop for use in potpourris. However, this approach is not the best one, because when you collect the petals at this stage they are already beyond their peak and will not dry properly or maintain their fragrance as you would like them to. You can use any rose variety having any color for making potpourris; you just need to ensure that the flowers are fragrant.
In present times, generally two methods are followed to make potpourris. They include the dry method as well as the moist method. The dry method involves using completely dried rose petals and they are used to make potpourris that are put on show in glass bowls or even used in sachets to scent lingerie drawers. It is interesting to note that potpourris displayed in glass bowls can last for as many as 10 years or even longer. On the other hand, potpourris made in sachets generally lose their aroma and become useless within about just two years.
The moist method of making potpourris involves using semi dried rose petals. Potpourris made by this method is not visually as attractive as this made using the dry method, but they are definitely more aromatic and even last for a longer period – about 50 years or so. You can make moist potpourris in glass bowls too.
The first step for making a dry potpourri involves collecting the petals of aromatic roses. Gather them soon after the drying of the morning dew and spread these petals on a raised screen that is away from sunlight, but in a warm, arid and well ventilated place. It may take many days or even a week for the petals to dry completely, subject to the heat as well as humidity. The rose petals should be thoroughly dried so that they become brittle and break when bent. In case you have problems in drying sufficient number of petals at one time, you can dry them in small number and store them in a sealed glass jar, thereby accumulating enough dried rose petals for your potpourri.
The preparation process involves mixing 1 quart dried rose petals along with 1 ounce dried spices or herbs of your preference in a large wooden or glass bowl. You may choose aromatic herbs and spices like allspice, cloves, cinnamon, mint or lemon verbena. In addition, other different dried flowers like lavender, carnations and orange blossoms can be used. These flowers are used extensively as they retain their fragrance for a long time even after being dried. Once you have mixed the above mentioned ingredients, add some drops of any good aromatic oil to 2 oz of a fixative, such as benzoin (thickened resin obtained from the styrax tree) or orris root and use a wooden spoon to mix them gently with the rose petals and the herbs/ spices. Instead of using fixative powder, use chunks of it, because the former may stick to the bowl or even form a cloud in the glass container. The aromatic oils that are commonly used in making dry potpourris include rose, cloves, cinnamon, lemon, lavender, and sandalwood.
After preparing the mixture, store it in a sealed container in a dark, cool place and keep shaking and stirring it from time to time. Don’t forget to check the aromas at regular intervals. Initially, they will have an acid smell, which is quite normal. It is advisable that you don’t add other aromas to the mixture at this stage with a view to enhance its smell. It may take anything between 3 weeks to 12 weeks for the mixture to mature. Its pleasant aroma will let you know that the mixture has matured. Keep the potpourri in a glass container with a cover and add other dried flowers to it for color and display. Just remove the cover of the glass container whenever you want the aroma to fill your room.
Prepare a moist potpourri by drying rose petals till they become flaccid but do not dry up completely. Blend the partially dried rose petals with your preferred dried spices and herbs. Subsequently, place the mixture in a 2-inch layer in a glass or ceramic bowl. Spread a slender layer of any non-iodized salt on the mixture and then add another two inches of rose petals. Keep doing this till the glass/ ceramic bowl is full. Use a weight to press the mixture down into the container and add more petals and salt by repeating the process daily. The mixture will become mature by two weeks’ time. If you are adding a non-iodized salt to the mixture, you need not include any fixative, which actually helps to absorb as well as maintain the aroma. In case you find that the aroma of the mixture is lessening, you may add some drops of brandy to revive the scent.