Fighting For You: Valentine's Day roses for your sweetheart that last

Fighting For You: Roses for your sweetheart that last

Love comes with a high price tag. Americans are expected to spend $17.6 billion on gifts this Valentine's Day. When it comes to spending, this holiday for lovers is second only to Christmas. The National Retail Federation predicts more than $6 billion will be used to purchase flowers. Fighting For You is working to help save you money by putting roses from different retailers to the test.

Which ones do you think would last longer? Roses from a florist? Roses delivered by mail in a box? Or roses purchased at a local discount chain? The answer may surprise you.

Love is big business enticing you to shower that special someone with candies, cards, jewelry and roses. The National Retail Federation expects people will spend roughly $37 on flowers.

To save you money, Fighting For You purchased roses from a local florist, some in a box from an online retailer and a dozen from a discount chain store. We followed the directions and waited.

"As long as you know what you are looking for, you can get a good selection pretty much anywhere," said Chris VanCleave, a rose expert known by many people as the Redneck Rosarian.

Growing roses is in VanCleave's blood. His family's love affair with roses dates back to the Civil War.

"My mother grew roses. My grandmother grew them. The ladies in the family cut roses from their garden and decorate the graves of what they called their Glorious Dead.

He even nurtured his own home garden from one bush to 150, so he seemed the perfect pick to weigh in on Fighting For You's experiment.

"I would think the ones from the florist would last the longest. They tend to be higher quality but I could be wrong," he said.

Five days later, the florist rose petals were wilting. The other roses were still opening.

Day seven, the florist roses were dead. The online roses were starting to turn black and the discount store roses were still blooming.

By the 12th day, about half of the online roses were dead. A few of the discount store roses were dropping but others hadn't opened yet making it the winner.

The discount store roses cost $10 a dozen. They were considerably cheaper than the $30 boxed-dozen and the $60 florist-dozen. But the additional money for florist flowers will get you more- showier blooms, greenery, a vase, even ribbon and a note.

None of the flowers made it two weeks.

VanCleave offers these tips for prolonging the life of your flowers:

  • Cut the bottom of the stems immediately.
  • Use any flower food packet included.
  • In two to three days, try a solution of equal parts water and lime soda (not diet).
  • Change the solution and trim the stems every few days.

"The sugar contact in soda kind of mimics photosynthesis where the sugar actually rises in the stem in spring to produce roses," explained VanCleave.

He also recommends dropping a penny into the vase.

"You know how you get that green slimy stuff in there? Put a penny in there. That helps to diminish it," he said.

Don't ask him why. He says it just does.

VanCleave says bruising on outer petals is okay but never purchase ones with droopy stems. There's nothing you can do to save them.

The Redneck Rosarian offers more tips on his website.

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