Roses have been with us for several centuries. They have been a symbol of love for so long and you can find then almost anywhere. There are about one hundred species of roses being cultivated and the range of colors is awesome. You can now buy lilac, blue and even black roses, though these are really not black. They are actually very deep red roses. The oil extracted from rose petals is one of the main ingredients in perfumes, body oils and other beauty products. Other extracts from roses have found their way into different cuisines. And parts of the plant have medicinal uses. There are rose growers that vie for top honors during international rose competitions and the varieties of roses that are being created continue to increase.
The rose is usually the flower of choice when it comes to making bouquets, posies, boutonnieres, corsages, centerpieces and just about any type of floral arrangement. The thorns that grow along the stem of a rose are the only flaws in the otherwise perfect flower. The thorns are quite sharp and should be removed when the roses are to be held. The tips below will show you how to remove these thorns.
- If you are only going to remove the thorns from a few rose stems to make a small bunched arrangement, you can use your hand to remove the thorns one by one. Wear thick garden gloves to protect your hands and cut the stems to the desired length. Hold a rose in one hand, usually the left hand. Place the four fingers of your other hand over the fingers of your left hand. They will act as anchor and support. Place the thumb of your right hand near the base of a thorn and push the thorn firmly to the right. This will cleanly snap off the thorn from the stem. If the thorn is not removed in one go, place your thumb on the other side and push the thorn in the opposite direction. Use this technique to remove all the thorns.
- The thorns on rose stems help the flower to take up water so it is really not advisable to remove them unless necessary. If you are going to place the roses in a vase, remove only the thorns on the part of the stems that will be immersed in water. Do not remove the thorns that will be above the water line in a vase.
- You can use a small paring knife or a floral knife to remove the thorns and leaves off the rose stem. Hold the rose head in the palm of your left hand and place the edge of the knife almost parallel to the stem where the thorns are located and scrape the thorns and leaves off in one swipe. Make sure that you do not injure or damage the stem itself. Any damage will shorten the life of the rose bloom.
- If you have to remove thorns from dozens of roses, one effective method is to use a thick, soft rag. Remember to put on thick garden gloves when handling roses to protect your hands as well as the flowers. Hold the rose stem a few centimeters under the head and hold the rag on your right hand. Using your fingers and thumb, wrap the rag around the stem. Close your fingers around the stem and drag the rag down the stem to quickly remove the thorns and leaves. The softness of the rag will protect the stem from damage.
- You can also buy a thorn stripper from a garden supply shop. This looks like a short tong with the ends bent at right angles and a groove cut from the center of each end. To use this thorn stripper, place the stem between the ends, centering it on the grooves and pull the thorn stripper down the length of the stem. Some florists do not want to use this tool though as it can damage the skin of the rose stem on occasion.
Removing thorns off roses is quite a laborious and slow process. Care is needed to make sure that the stem is not damaged. Any cut or exposed portion of the stem will shorten the life of the rose and you may see several wilted roses before it can even be used. As long as the roses will not be held or pinned to the body it is always best to just leave those thorns alone so that you will have more time to admire and enjoy the beauty of the roses.