Last November, Frances Ballentine and John Godwin gave a wonderful talk about the many types of roses that grow well in the Lowcountry. Frances, as usual, brought lots of extra information to share, including a handout on dry wrapping roses. She explained dry wrapping is one way exhibitors preserve and transport roses all over the U.S. to distant shows.
As she talked, my eyes lit up. Preserving roses? Our son’s wedding next year! In Alabama! I could take roses for the wedding!

Practice Makes Perfect
I tucked away a copy of the instructions for safekeeping. April and May arrived, and roses were blooming.
My son and his bride-to-be were excited about having roses from home, and asked me to “do” the flowers for the reception. The pressure was now on me. I decided I had better experiment with dry wrapping roses at home.

My first try was on several large roses and minis that I prepared and stored in the refrigerator. Three weeks later as I was cleaning out the refrigerator, I discovered my forgotten experiment. Oops! A couple were moldy but several looked hopeful. I followed the directions on reviving them. To my surprise, they actually came back and lasted a couple of days!
What did I learn? Three weeks in storage was pushing it. The seals on the moldy roses had broken loose. Dry the stems before applying the sealer.

Getting Ready for the Wedding
June arrived. The wonderful members of our Society gifted us with 10 dozen roses on the Sunday before the wedding. It took me hours to prepare them and Julian Hayes’ refrigerator to store them all.

Early Wednesday morning, we packed the roses in coolers equipped with ice packs and began our journey to Montgomery, Alabama. Eight hours later, we arrived at our son’s apartment and took over his refrigerator. (He was going on a honeymoon in a few days and wouldn’t need to keep food in it, we reasoned.)

On Friday night, we moved to our hotel, roses and all, and started reviving them. We brought 5 large buckets, but quickly realized we needed many more! But, with the Correia family occupying 7 adjoining hotel rooms, additional trashcans quickly appeared.

We organized an assembly line. Bob unwrapped the roses, I recut them under water, and a family volunteer put them in a bucket. As soon as one bucket was full, it was quickly replaced by an empty one. Finally we were done.

At this point, I admit I was a bit concerned. Everyone was depending on me. The roses were almost a week old and some looked sad. Would my plan work? But soon, the roses began perking up and looking better.

My job was to fix the large centerpiece for the reception. I had never made a large arrangement before. I worked on it for a few hours. Finally, it was finished. I examined my work of art-it looked mighty good to this beginner!

I suddenly realized the roses were opening up too fast in the warm room. Hurriedly, I replaced the styrofoam cups over the blooms (we had used them in storage and transit) hoping they would keep the roses from opening further. I spread a plastic cover over the arrangement, placed it in front of the air conditioner, and cranked up the A/C to the coldest possible setting. And I said a sincere, long prayer.

The arrangement looked great the next morning. All went well except for knocking it over as we put it in the van. I worked it over at the reception hall, made up a dozen little vases for the tables, and left about 9:30 in the morning for the wedding. I prayed that everything would remain unchanged until the reception at 4:00 that afternoon.

At the Reception
The arrangement and the roses held up beautifully!
Our son and his new bride saw my masterpiece for the first time late that afternoon. They were entranced and deeply appreciated the labor of love created for them for their wedding day. It was a very special gift from their mother, family, and rose friends in South Carolina. Thanks
We cannot thank all of you enough for your generosity in donating roses for our son’s wedding. I admit the project was a lot of work, but well worth every minute of it.
My message is: If you have a special occasion coming up, think seriously about dry wrapping.

How I Did It
• Recut the stems under water and soak the roses for about 40 minutes in Floralife solution.
• Dry the base of the stem and seal with a glue gun.
• Wrap a styrofoam cup around the bud to protect it.
• Place in a plastic bag (plastic bags from your newspaper work great), tie up the end, and place in the refrigerator.
• When ready to use, recut the stems under water, and soak in Floralife solution.
• Within the hour, they will perk up and start becoming beautiful again.

If this novice can do it, so can you. Try drywrapping!