April’s Ag Advice

April's Ag Advice
Valentine's Day is right around the corner and I just want to remind you not to forget to send that special someone flowers. You might find yourself in the dog house and that would not be good! I am sure that you don't need to be reminded that there is one flower in particular that symbolizes love. That flower is the red rose.

This knowledge is part of our national psyche. People are fully aware of red roses – and their connection to "matters of the heart." Revered throughout the western world, the rose is the ultimate flower, a symbol not only of love, but of beauty and perfection. It is no wonder it's so popular this time of year!

Now, I am sure that you are thinking that there are lots of other flowers out there that could be substituted for roses for Valentine's giving. I would agree that there are lots of very beautiful flowers that are fragrant and colorful, and even very elegant, but roses still remain the "golden standard" of love and romance. I've never met anyone, man or woman, who didn't enjoy a special gift of roses!

Roses are at a premium this time of year. The reason for their price is simply a reflection of the law of supply and demand. When it comes to Valentine's Day, the demand is overwhelming.

You can save money shopping for roses if you forego premium-priced long-stemmed roses. When you purchase long-stemmed roses, you are truly buying inches of stem length, which can be very costly. Often times, it is hard to find a vase tall enough to actually accommodate long-stemmed roses, so the first thing a person usually does when receiving these long roses is cut off several inches of the stems in order to arrange them. Why pay for those extra inches that will be discarded anyway? So instead, look for medium or shorter stemmed roses. They are just as useful and equally as beautiful.

Another money-saving idea is to plan on ordering ahead (don't wait until Valentine's Day), and plan for delivery a day or two prior to the holiday. Some florists offer a discounted price in order to spread delivery over several days and take some pressure off the 14th. Since you can expect fresh roses to last from five to seven days, they should still be lovely on Valentine's Day. In fact, they will have opened more, and may be even prettier than when they were first delivered.

Don't risk "breaking the bank" by buying a dozen roses; consider giving five or six roses instead. Roses arranged with baby's breath and some delicate fern foliage will still make a luxurious gift. In fact, when it comes to elegance, nothing beats one perfect rose nestled with a little greenery in a simple bud vase!

The most sought-after color for Valentine's Day is red. However, if you know the "language of flowers," there are other colors that may be more appropriate and equally as lovely. White roses, for instance, are said to symbolize innocence, reverence, and purity. Yellow roses symbolize joy and friendship. Light pink is associated with grace, while dark pink represents thankfulness and appreciation. Lavender roses symbolize enchantment and love at first sight. But there is one that you want to watch out for – coral and orange roses. Their secret message is desire!

Some people think that when you buy a rose, it should smell just as wonderful as it looks. Though some roses do smell wonderful, often florist's roses are only mildly fragrant. If you do detect a faint scent when they're in the cooler, it generally becomes more noticeable after the roses have been arranged and allowed to reach room temperature. Now, if fragrance is a high priority to you, then you need to be on the lookout for lavender roses. Even though lavender roses are not as large as some other roses, they more than make up for their size with their heavenly perfume!

If you are lucky enough to have received a bouquet of roses, you will want to know how to get the most life out of the cut roses. There is nothing more frustrating than to get this beautiful bouquet of roses and then have it die a couple of days later. By following some simple guidelines, you should be able to keep your roses looking good for the longest possible period of time. Then when they fade, you won't feel too bad.

  • Your vase must be immaculately clean. Use a bottle brush to scrub the inside, or fill it with water and drop a foaming denture cleaner in it overnight to remove dried residue before you put fresh roses in it.
  • Be careful what type of water you use. Softened water has been shown to shorten the life of a rose, so you might need to use bottled water.
  • Dissolve the enclosed packet of floral preservative in lukewarm water, or add drops of liquid cut-flower food, according to directions. Pennies, aspirin, and other "home remedies" are of little or no value.
  • Remove any foliage that will be underwater in the vase. The submerged leaf material and debris will break down rapidly, creating foul water. This dirty water will decrease the life of your roses by clogging the stems.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut about one inch off the bottom of each stem at an angle. If possible, hold the stem under a gentle stream of lukewarm water as you cut it. It is best to use a sharp knife, not scissors. Scissors will crush and compress the stems, rather than providing a nice, clean cut.
  • Place your roses in a relatively cool location, out of direct sunlight. The cooler you are able to keep them, the longer they will last, provided they're not exposed to freezing temperatures. Make sure to avoid locations by radiators, forced air ducts, or heat-producing lights. For the longest vase life possible, roses should never be subjected to temperatures above 70 F.
  • Remember that roses can be very thirsty flowers. It is most important to check to see that the vase is full and add preservative solution often. The water should be changed every 2 to 3 days and the roses recut for optimum vase life.

    If a rose begins to "nod" or bend over prematurely, you may be able to squeeze a few more good days out of it by recutting the stem and submerging the whole rose, horizontally, in slightly warm water for several hours. Once its stem straightens out, remove the rose and put it back into its vase.

    Giving roses at Valentine's Day is a time-honored tradition that has been practiced for many years. Roses are regarded as the symbol of love and a Valentine's Day rose signifies the heart. Nothing says "I love you" better than a rose. Enjoy your Valentine's Day and if you are lucky and receive roses, take a little time to care for them and enjoy their beauty long past that one special day.

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