The most popular cut flower, the rose is the symbol of England and closely associated with love and St Valentine’s Day. Roses are the number 1 selling cut flower worldwide and in Australia and have been for decades. In Holland they outsold the second most popular flower (tulip) by almost 3 to 1 in 2004.
Most cut roses are single stems of the hybrid tea varieties with one flower per stem, but recently spray roses, with several flowers per stem have become more popular. Rose breeding has been going on for centuries. There are now literally thousands of rose varieties with dozens of new cut flower varieties released each year by the major breeders, which include Meilland (France), De Ruiter (Holland), Kordes and Rosen Tantau (Germany) and Jackson & Perkins (USA). Check these breeders’ websites for more information.
Cut rose flowers come in every colour and shade except blue or black. Red is by far the most popular colour. For many years new varieties were bred primarily for colour, long vase life, yield (ie number of stems per bush) or pest & disease resistance, so perfume tended to be neglected. This is now beginning to change with several new red, yellow and mauve/purple varieties now available with good perfume and relatively long vase life. ‘Extase’ (deep red) is a good example of these new varieties.
Roses are almost universally grown in glasshouses where every aspect of the climate (eg temperature, humidity, light, even CO2 levels) are closely controlled. For commercial reasons, the major growing regions are shifting from the northern hemisphere, eg Holland and USA, to Africa, South America and SE Asia. The vast majority of roses sold in Australia are also grown here as well – mostly in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.
Types: Hybrid Teas, Sprays
What to look for
- Flowers should stick straight up from the stem with NO angle;
- Leaves should be dark green and veins should not be prominent;
- Cut stems ends should be green/white, not brown;
- Clean petals with no blotches, spots or creases;
- In winter, avoid bunches with tight buds – they may not open.
Roses are delicate flowers and need special care to last over a week.
- Keep them cool (ie 1 to 4oC) at all times – this means florists should not display bunches outside the shop.
- Strip all leaves from the bottom 2/3 of each stem. Removing thorns is optional as it will not improve flower life.
- Do NOT bash or split stems.
- Re-cut 2 to 3 cm with sharp secateurs off the stems underwater after purchase, if possible. If you can’t manage this re-cut stems one at a time and place in clean water as soon as the cut has been made. Don’t leave roses out of water for long – if they are out for more than 20 minutes re-cut each stem again and place in water immediately. Cold water is best for roses.
- Water MUST be clean. The best way to do this is to use a floral preservative and top up the vase with clean water (+preservative) every day. Replace the vase water completely every 2 to 3 days – don’t just keep topping it up.
- Open tight buds by recutting stems underwater, then wrap the bunch tightly in paper (not newspaper as the ink may stain the flowers), then place the bunch in deep, lukewarm water. Best depth is if the water reaches to just under the flowerheads. Leave to soak for 2 to 3 hours, but check regularly as buds can open fast.
Interesting Facts about this Flower
Most scented roses are lilac/mauve, yellow or red (Extase)
After the end of the 3rd Crusade in the 12th century, the crusaders returned to the west with rose plants which were then cultivated by monks in their monastery gardens for their medicinal properties. Rose water was successfully used to cure all kinds of ailments, such as trembling, constipation, drunkenness, skin and throat infections and insomnia. There is some truth in this as we now know Rosa rugosa hips contain high levels of Vitamin C.
In the harems of the Middle East the rose was used as a secret means of communication between lovers who were not allowed to express their love for one another openly. Link. In 1718 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the wife of the British ambassador in Constantinople, described this in her letters, which were published after her death. These letters inspired many books on the language of flowers, which was expanded to include many other flowers, each signifying a secret message. A red rose bud stands for budding desire, while an open white rose asks “Will you love me?”. An open red rose means “I’m full of love and desire”, while an open yellow rose asks “Don’t you love me any more?”. Pink roses mean ‘perfect happiness’ or ‘believe me’.
Botanical Name: Rosa hybrida
Common Names: Rose
Stem Length: 20 to 90 cm, usually 30 to 70 cm.
Country of Origin: China
Available Colours: Cream, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow