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Another Half-Satisfied Flower Customer

Posted by on October 11, 2006 in Cut Flowers

As long as I’m in the thick of talking about my book, I might as well share my own stories of flower consumption.  This one happened over the weekend–not to me, but to my husband.

He left town for a family funeral–not Grandma, who I mentioned earlier, in case you’re worried–but another elderly relative.   I couldn’t go, but I asked him to please bring flowers from both of us.

So on the way to the funeral, he stopped at a little florist that just happened to be on the way.  He said that I would not have approved of the selection or the quality, although in my defense I’m actually not as much of a flower snob as you might think.  (So don’t hesitate to send me flowers!)

Anyway, his best option was a $40 arrangement of red roses, eucalyptus, baby’s breath, etc. that was already made up and in the cooler.   He grabbed it and left.  He was right about the quality–by the end of the day, the flowers had bent right over at the neck.  He didn’t even get 8 hours out of them.

If we had sent those flowers from out of town, and heard later that they’d wilted within the day, we would have been furious and all the more frustrated at having to spend our time calling the florist to complain.  After all, it’s a funeral.  Who wants more grief at a time like that?

But guess what?  The whole experience was worthwhile anyway.  Why?  Because when Scott handed the roses to his great-aunt–it was her 90 year-old husband’s funeral he was attending– she looked at those flowers and said, "Red roses!  That’s what he would have gotten me."

And that’s why I keep sending flowers, even when they wilt.


  1. No one ever sends me flowers because I grow them. They can’t seem to grasp the fact that I grow flowers because I love them and would be delighted to receive cut flowers as a gift. Sigh . . .

  2. Amy, that’s wonderful… I bet that it really made her day. 🙂
    OldRoses, I have that problem, too. I think that sometimes people think that they would have to spend tons of money or get huge bouquets in order to impress me since I garden. Not true! A small bunch of whatever’s in season right now would be much appreciated.

  3. What a good story! You sneaked past my defenses with that one, Amy. And what a great memory for your husband, to know that he added a note of joy to a sad day.
    Unfortunately, funeral flowers have been our main reason for buying cut flowers in the last few years.
    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. Amy,
    I am a retail florist and feel sad that the roses didn’t last. That shouldn’t have happened and the florist who sold the roses is clearly responsible.
    With this clearly stated, I would like to point out a few things about “bent neck” problem of roses, so that readers of this blog would have a better understanding of this problem.
    Firstly, the cause for bent-neck problem of roses is usually not the old age of roses. In other words, it is quite possible that the roses your husband purchased might have been “just received” by the florist. It’s not that the florist sold him a week-old roses and that was why they wilt in a few days.
    Bent-neck occurs simply because roses can’t “drink” water, i.e., a poor water-uptake by the rose stem (Some rose cultivars are more susceptible to this problem than others). The most common cause is the dead or clogged tissue that is responsible for water uptake.
    Two factors that are absolutely critical to prevent the bent-neck are: (1) “cool-chain” of transportation (i.e., keeping the temperature below 35C from grower to wholesaler to retailer) and (2) proper post-harvest treatment of cut roses, for example by 1-MCP or STS. Note that retail florists have no direct control over these factors.
    What we retailers could (in my opinion, should) be doing is to stay away from those wholesalers or growers who might sell roses cheap but do so only by cutting corners. You get what you paid for, and often, those roses do not last.
    As you can imagine, however, avoiding less costly wholesalers/growers is easier said than done, because it would significantly increase our cost. Most florist retailers already pay more for wholesale flowers than consumers pay for supermarket flowers. Many florists are understandably afraid of losing profit.
    I think the key is to educate flower consumers. If enough consumers start buying the roses that might be slightly more expensive but would last 7 days, as opposed to the cheaper roses that wilt in 3 days, then that should pressure retailers to stay away from “cheap” wholesalers.
    No, we already don’t use cheap wholesalers, but that’s just me. I guess that’s why we don’t make a whole lot of money. 🙂

  5. Sometimes the bent neck of roses can be simply that there is an air bubble in the stem – this can often be cleared by putting the end of the stems into just boiled water and then angling the stem down to 45 degrees to see if an air bubble comes out. This is obviously impractical if you are giving a bouquet, but something to try if you have been given roses and they wilt. This technique rescued the flowers at a friend’s 40th birthday party flowers where about 50% of her (very expensive)roses wilted with only a couple of hours to go.
    Peonies and hydrangea can be similarly revived by floating the flower in a bath of water.