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How to Buy Roses

What to look for when buying roses
Shopping for roses? Here's some information on what to look for when buying roses--and what to avoid. And of course, with roses you purchase online from 1-800-The Rose, you're assured that this is all taken care of for you already.

If you are physically choosing your roses, here are some of the things that you should look for. These are tell-tale signs to tell if the roses are fresh and of good quality:

  • The stem of the rose should be rigid with consistent color from top to bottom.  If the bottom of the stem looks discolored and dry, it means that the stem has been out of water too long and should be avoided.

  • The flower itself should not be closed too tight.  While there are many different varieties of roses, and each variety has different characteristics (such as petal count and bloom size), you should look for a rose that is slightly open but not too open.  Give the rose a pinch to see if it has some substance and is not too soft.

  • Roses are cut at the farm with their outer “guard” petals still on.  These are left on as long as possible and protect the rose in transport.  The florist will usually peel these off when making an arrangement.  So, if you see a rose with bruised outer petals, that does not necessarily mean the rose is a bad one; if the bruising is limited to the outer petals, it probably means the guard petals are still on and the rose if fresh–just ask the florist to remove them before wrapping them up for you.

  • The foliage on the stem of the rose is a very good indicator of quality and freshness.  The leaves should be green and supple.

  • If you are buying online, the best advice is to buy from a reputable flower company that will stand behind their product.  Many online business try to get into the flower business at certain holidays but are not experienced in buying and shipping this perishable product.

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose?

With apologies to Gertrude Stein, no, there are thousands and thousands of varieties of roses, each unique in its own way. When you specifically talk about cut roses you buy from a florist or a flower delivery Web site, there are certain rose varieties. You'll hear terms like "long stem roses", "roses" (or "tea roses"), and "sweetheart roses". The differences between each of the varieties basically has to do with the stem length and the size of the head of the rose. We'll explain the differences to you here.


Long Stem Roses
Long Stem Roses: This is the quintessential rose to send. Long stemmed roses have stem lengths of 60 to 90 centimeters (23.6 to 35.4 inches), and a head size (measuring the diameter) of 2-4 inches. To achieve this size, the rose has to be the pick of the crop--this is why long stem roses tend to be more expensive than other roses. Roses that do not "make the cut" cannot be sold as Long Stem Roses.

Tea Roses

Tea Roses: When a florist refers to just "a rose" without using any other terminology, chances are they're talking about "Hybrid Tea Roses", commonly called "Tea Roses". These are the most popular rose in the world, that have been specially bred for their beauty and easy care.

Tea Roses are actually the same flower as Long Stem Roses, but they will typically have shorter stem lengths of 40 to 55 centimeters (15.75 to 21.7 inches), and 1.5 to 2 inch head sizes. They still make stunning arrangements, and are used often in mixed flower bouquets.


Sweetheart Roses

Sweetheart Roses: Sweetheart roses, also sometimes called "miniature roses", are much smaller than Tea Roses. Their stems are typically 20 to 40 centimeters (7.9 to 15.75 inches) inches long, and their head size might be anywhere from 0.5 inches to 1 inch. They are typically sold in larger quantities and come in a variety of beautiful, bright colors of red, orange, yellow, and pink.


Spray Roses
Spray Roses: Spray roses generally have stem lengths the same as Tea Roses. The difference is, while with long stem roses, tea roses, and sweetheart roses, there is one flower per stem, a spray rose might have upwards of 4-5 flowers per stem, and clusters of blooms 2 to 3 inches in diameter. They make lovely arrangements on their own, or when used as part of another arrangement, such as the wedding bouquet pictured here. They come in colors such as champagne, cream, pink, red, and white.

Roses Delivered by a Florist vs. Roses Delivered in a Box

Some flower Web sites have their roses arranged and delivered by a local florist. Others have their roses shipped via carriers like UPS and FedEx. What's the difference between the two? Which should you go with?

With florist-arranged roses, a professional florist hand-selects your roses, arranges them in a vase with the right filler flowers and greens, and hand-delivers them to your recipient. A professional florist will always hand-select roses that are high-quality and already open, so they're ready for presentation right away.

Roses delivered in a box are best for people who don't mind arranging their own roses. Typically, these roses come packaged in a cardboard box. Because they are shipped from the growers' fields with very little intervention, these roses will typically last several days longer than florist flowers. On the other hand, when you or your recipient receive these roses, they may not be immediately suitable for presentation--in many cases, they may still be in bud form, yet to open up.

Designer Roses are a third kind of way roses are delivered. These come shipped via a parcel carrier, but before they are put in the box, they are expertly hand-arranged and carefully packaged so that you just need to drop them in a vase. See our Designer Rose collection to see examples of these exquisite floral arrangements.

Flowers sold on 1-800-The Rose that are delivered by a local florist will have this phrase under the product price: Delivered via a local florist.

Roses delivered in a box or Designer Roses will have this phrase: Delivered via FedEx, UPS, or DHL.

Which is the best way to send flowers?

Some flower delivery companies will insult local florists by claiming after you buy from them, "you'll never go to a local florist again". Similarly, some florists will lambaste companies that deliver roses in a box, claiming that "getting flowers in a box results in a mess and in ruined relationships".

The truth is, both methods of delivery are good, just for different situations. If you're sending flowers for a birthday, you might want to have a professional take care of everything for you, just as you'd take a loved one out to a fine restaurant with a master chef who will masterfully prepare a steak dinner. If you're having flowers delivered to decorate your home or have fun putting together your own arrangements, it's fine to have flowers delivered in a box, just as you might order up some raw steaks and throw them on the grill at the next family barbeque.

The bottom line is, it's your choice and your call.

1-800-The Rose has partnered with 1-800-FLOWERS.COM for its rose delivery. We did this because 1-800-FLOWERS.COM really does have the best of both worlds.

Its network of florists for florist-delivered roses is top-notch; they screen every one of their florists constantly for quality control, and have over 9,000 trusted local florists around the country and around the world. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM really does value the role of the local florist in America's local communities, and aims to make them more successful--not to drive them out of business.

Likewise, for roses delivered in a box, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM maintains close relationships with top-notch flower farms in South America, Europe, and the United States, and has quality control that is second-to-none. Flower growers breed and grow only the best varieties of roses. In their trip from the flower farms to your door, flowers are maintained in what's called a "cold chain" (i.e., shipping in climate-controlled conditioins to ensure that the flowers remain fresh for their entire flight). Flowers arrive in a facility in the United States, and are processed quickly. Thorns and excess leaves are trimmed from the flower. The stems are properly cut under water, and the roses are hydrated with flower food by inserting a special water tube on each stem. Every rose is manually inspected for quality. Diseased and wilted flowers are removed and destroyed. Only the best flowers are then boxed and shipped to your door.

While you might find cheaper flowers in a supermarket or bodega, examine those roses carefully before you consider buying them. Those flowers often come from growers who simply mass-produce roses of an inferior quality and are not as meticulous in preventing disease or keeping flowers their freshest. On the other hand, for both florist-delivered flowers and roses in a box you purchase from this site, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM guarantees their roses will last at least seven days. And by following our Rose Care Instructions, you may even find that they often last much longer than that, even upwards of 2-3 weeks.