Red Roses: The Iconic Valentine’s Day Flower

LivRio Magazine January 2022, powered by FloraLife

No flower symbolizes Valentine’s Day more than a classic red rose, and it’s no surprise as in the language of flowers red roses mean ‘I love you’. Knowing this, rose growers will have been managing their crops for months in order to produce the 250 million red rose stems that will be purchased on Valentine’s Day around the world.

If you are wondering how and when Valentine’s Day became the celebration it is today, well it has several purported origins. February 14th was officially declared St Valentine’s Day at the end of the 5th century by Pope Gelasius. The day’s association with romance however, occurred much later around the Middle Ages, and the first mention of St Valentine’s Day being a romantic celebration was made by the poet Geoffrey Chaucer in 1375. The tradition of gifting flowers dates back to the late 17th century, with red roses being most popular due their associated meaning and affiliation with Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love.

Care and Handling Information


  • Roses are sensitive to ethylene. The sensitivity and the damage symptoms vary depending on the variety. Symptoms include poor opening, abnormal opening, petal shattering, wilting, bent neck and petal discoloration. Source from growers which treat stems with an ethylene action inhibitor such as EthylBloc™.
  • Free from botrytis. Brown spots or patches on the outer petals may be an indication of botrytis infection.
  • Free of mechanical damage.
  • Avoid rose stems with obvious excessive wilting symptoms which is an indication of improper temperature and humidity management.

Shipping and Storage

  • Shipping and storage temperatures should be 34 – 38° F / 1 – 3° C with a 75-85% relative humidity.

Re-hydration at Store Level

  • Start processing with a clean bucket, sanitized with FloraLife® D.C.D.® Cleaner.
  • If received dry packed, conditioning of stem ends is recommended to prevent blockage and promote uptake. Cut approximately 1” or more off stems. Use clean, sanitized clippers or knife, and treat with FloraLife® Quick Dip.
  • Place flowers in a flower food holding solution such as FloraLife® Express 200. Do not put flowers directly in metal/galvanized buckets. Use clean, high-quality water that has not been treated with a water softener.
  • Store in a cooler at 34 – 38° F / 1 – 3° C.
  • Allow minimum 2 hours to hydrate placing buckets in an area with good airflow.  
  • Always remember FIFO (first in/first out) when rotating Roses or any other flowers.

Vase Care

  • Remove any leaves that might be below the vase solution.
  • If received dry, cut approximately 1” or more off stems. Use clean, sanitized clippers or knife, and treat with FloraLife® Quick Dip.
  • Immediately place flowers in properly dosed vase solutions (Flower Food and water) containing FloraLife Crystal Clear® (the perfect solution for clear vases), or FloraLife® Express 300 (the no-cut premium solution).
  • Keep away from direct sunlight and fruits.

Special Considerations

  • The outer petals of roses tend to be quite different from the inner petals. These are known as ‘Guard Petals’ and are a naturally occurring part of the rose. Many florists choose to remove the guard petals for aesthetic reasons, but they can also add a naturalistic element if left untouched. To remove them, simply hold each petal firmly and give them a gently tug to remove.
  • Red roses can sometimes display blackening at the petals’ edge. This occurs during the growing process when cold nighttime temperatures and high daytime temperature & high levels of sunlight occur together. Blackening of the petals’ edges is not a disease. There is nothing wrong with these beauties.

A happy customer means repeat business, especially at Valentine’s!  This may be the only time of year someone may purchase or receive roses and may be your one and only chance to make an impression.  Be sure to send your customers home with FloraLife® Flower Food packets and know-how!  Proper care and handling and educating customers will not only give your customers an amazing experience but have them coming back to you when it’s time to buy roses again!

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