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Check out our useful hints and tips articles to help you get the best out of your garden.

Cutting roses for Valentine's Day

Red roses. Photograph by Mihai Ontanu

Traditionally given as a sign of love, roses are the perfect bouquet or centrepiece for Valentine's Day. Indeed, Valentine's Day can sometimes be all about the big bunch of roses you hope to receive!

Red, pink or white are the traditional colours, but black, purple, yellow and multi- toned are becoming very popular. Yellow roses in particular are becoming a mainstream summer display.

If you are lucky enough to be able to cut your own, here are a few top tips to get you started:

  • Wear gloves! A thick pair of gardener's gloves will suffice, for most roses have thick woody spikes.

  • A sharp pair of pruning shears or clippers. Blunt blades can damage the bush.

  • Make sure you wash the blades well before you begin, to avoid spreading disease amongst plants. Ideally use a little diluted bleach.

  • Take a container of lukewarm water to place the stems into straightaway.

  • Cut your roses after 3pm. This is agreed on by most experts as the ideal time for the plant and for hydration of each flower.

  • Only take roses that are less than half open, or just about to open.

  • Cut the stems only as long as they are needed.

  • Leave three leaves on the stem, so that they continue to feed the flower in a vase.

  • Make sure any leaves that will be below the water line are removed.

  • When you cut roses an air pocket is formed at the cut. This bubble can work its way up the stem, and block the nutrient supply. Hold the cut end under hot water and trim the stem to remove the bubble.

  • Add a drop of bleach to the water in your vase, and whatever preservative you use.

  • An alternative preservative is a teaspoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar per vase.

  • Leave the roses in a dark room for a few hours before displaying them; this will increase the shelf life.

  • Always change the water in a vase if it gets murky, and remember to top up the water every day as it can evaporate quickly.

  • If the ends of the stems start to rot under water, trim again under hot water and replace the water in the vase.

The most important thing to remember is the date - February 14th! Put it in your diary today and surprise your loved ones with a bunch of freshly cut roses.

This article was written by Susan Wilkinson. Photo credit: Mihai Ontanu

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