5 On Your Side

Valentine's Day Advice: One Rose Seller Is Not Just Like Another

Posted February 8, 2007 7:42 p.m. EST

— The "rosiest" day of the year is just about here.

Choosing a color for roses—light pink, lavender, red—is one thing. Where to get them is another.

The flower industry estimates 189 million roses will be ready for Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. Many people will easily pay more than $100 for a bouquet and will order them online. But what might they look like when they arrive?

Consumer Reports ordered dozens and dozens of roses to find out.

"We're looking to see what sort of shape they arrive in and we're also looking to see how long they last," said Pat Slaven of Consumer Reports.

The magazine’s test was pretty thorough.

They ordered a dozen red roses once a week for five weeks from Hallmark, Organic Bouquet, Jungle Roses, and ProFlowers. They picked those places because, unlike other Web sites, all four ship from central warehouses.

The bouquets arrived within the promised time, but some had problems—petals were damaged, and some leaves had dark spots.

In one case, a $128 box from Jungle Roses was labeled red, but the roses turned out to be yellow.

As for staying power, some of the bouquets lasted only three days. The best deal of the bunch was from ProFlowers. The bouquet costs $50, including shipping. The flowers lasted about a week.

Testers found the best bet, however, if at all possible is to order from a local florist you know and trust.

No matter where you get your roses, you can help them last longer.

Experts say to start by trimming the stems as soon as you get them, and make those cuts on a diagonal.

Change the water every day (use warm water). Add food—either floral food or a cup of citrus soda mixed with two drops of bleach.

And keep them in a cool spot (not on top of a television or next to a sunny window). If they nod, cut off an inch.

With good care, roses should last about a week.