Does size matter (when you are buying roses)?

jbryanArrangements, How-To, Tools1 Comment

I was perusing web the other day, and I am naturally drawn to “entertainment news.”  I’m also glued to People Magazine every time I go to the beauty salon…. got a problem with that? 🙂

My wandering eye caught up with the news that it was Oprah’s birthday. She tweeted a picture of the biggest roses I have ever seen in my life, that were sent to her as a birthday gift. They were HUGE…literally as tall as she was!!!!


Seeing those roses, made me think about all the different sizes of roses that are out there,many of which I have worked with and pondered this existential question, “Does it really matter to someone who is into flower arranging? Does size matter?” Deep, I know.

The deep answer to my deep question, at least for myself personally is that  I think these gigantic roses make a huge statement all by themselves, but I prefer arranging with smaller ones… gives me more options when it comes to what I want my arrangement to look like.

Today I bought three sizes of roses, one of the smallest varieties (the sweetheart rose), one a bit bigger (a long stem) and the third was in the middle of the two (aptly called medium stem African roses). The smaller bunch of flowers that had both the big and the small (total of 6 stems) was $3.99 and the pink roses were $6.99 for an even dozen at Trader Joe’s– a great deal if you ask me!

Here is what I bought:




Here is what I did with them:


That’s called a hand tied bouquet….and I show you how to do it here and below you can see how I secured this bouquet with the rubber band technique:


Yup, that is all that is keeping this bouquet about simple mechanics!

Yup, that is all that is keeping this bouquet together…talk about simple mechanics!

I liked mixing the sizes of the roses together. They do have a little Downtown Abbey-ish feel to them, though the colors may not be so accurate for that time period.


You can see the variation in size, though its not dramatic. It will be more noticeable once they open more. Its easier than you think to get roses to open fully, its all in the conditioning.

Here are the steps I take to get my roses to open:

Step 1: Condition!

That means you remove damaged petals on the bud and all green foliage and thorns that will be below the waterline.

Step 2: Make a fresh diagonal cut under water on the stem.

Cutting diagonally avoids a flat stem against a flat bottom of the vase…. no water, no bueno.


Step 3: Gently blow on the tops of the buds to get them to open a bit.

Using your pinky finger to encourage the petals to spread out helps it along as well.

If those gentle techniques don’t seem to get the blossoms open enough, check out this video that shows another method:

I have done this too with good results. Or you can just let time work for you. Here is the same arrangement after a few days and the roses have had a chance to open up:

rose arrangement

So, the lesson for today is that you don’t always have to break the bank to get a pretty, romantic rose arrangement! Using smaller roses, with varying sizes can add dimension and make a  lovely difference.

For future reference, here is some good information on the different sizes of roses that are in the marketplace.

Often described as

Length in centimeters

Length in inches

Bud size*

Sweetheart or Petite Roses

30-40 cm


Buds are generally 1/2 inch diameter and approx. 1 inch high

Short Stem Roses sometimes labeled ‘medium stem’

40 cm

15.75 inches

Buds are generally 1inch in diameter and 1.5 – 2 inches high

Medium Stem Roses

50 cm

19.75 inches

Buds are generally 1 inch in diameter and 1.5 – 2 inches high

Longstem or Long Stem Roses

60 cm

23.5 inches

Buds are generally 1.5 inches in diameter and 2 – 2.5 inches high

Premium Longstem or Longstem Roses

70 – 80 cm

27.5 inches and up

Buds are generally 2 inches in diameter and 2.5 – 3 inches high

So it looks like size does matter, but not at all in the way you might have thought! 🙂

jbryanDoes size matter (when you are buying roses)?
  • Kathy Edwards

    I think the size depends on how formal or informal you want to go–one of my favorite rose “approaches” is to take 3-4 bunches of sweetheart roses that are in the same color family, just not identical colors, and make a big, lush, and, I think, a very romantic and informal arrangement.