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Educating yourself about Rose Petals

Shopping for petals  When shopping for rose petals, there are many things to keep in mind.  First, you have to choose between fresh, freeze dried, and silk.  What you plan to use them for will help determine what type is most appropriate.  For any outdoor use, fresh or freeze dried petals are the most appropriate since they are a natural, biodegradable product.  Freeze dried petals can be obtained well in advance, avoiding last minute worries.  Also, the quality of fresh petals can degrade quickly and often do not look good by the time they are used.  Freeze dried rose petals are preserved at their peak freshness for excellent quality. 

For indoor use, silk or freeze dried petals are recommend for lining aisles since fresh petals can be slippery and stain.  The flower girl could use any type of rose petal since they don't need a large quantity and the petals are not closely examined.  For table decoration, freeze dried rose petals are preferred since they are an excellent conversation piece and are real, not artificial, giving a more elegant touch.

The cost of the types of petals can vary greatly.  Silk rose petals are typically the least expensive and work well when large quantities are need for indoor pathways or to create a thick pillow of petals for table decorations.  Freeze dried petals are more expensive than silk, but they are more realistic (because they are real petals!)  Fresh petals can often be the most expensive option due to the need to de-petal the roses very soon before their use and the expense of overnight shipping if your florist is unable to provide them.

The Freeze Drying Process

The process of freeze drying rose petals takes a great deal of effort and skill to yield a quality product.  We start out by working with importers to bring in the best roses available, typically from Colombia and Ecuador.  We then cut and hold the roses until they open just right.  Once they are ready, we pull the petals off one by one, separating the imperfect petals from the premium ones.  Then the petals are cooled and loaded into a freeze drier to be dried.

The rose petals typically spend about 2 weeks in a freeze drier.  They are first frozen to about -20 degrees Fahrenheit, then a vacuum pump draws all the air out of the chamber to a pressure similar to that of space.  This extreme condition allows the water contained within the petals to pass directly from a solid (ice) to a gas (water vapor), a process called sublimation.  Since we are able to bypass the liquid stage of water, the petal can remain in the shape it is frozen in without shriveling or decomposing.  The temperature is gradually increased to about room temperature over two weeks, allowing all of the water contained within the petals to be removed.

Want more information?  Read What is (and is not) a quality Freeze Dried Rose Petal.

Myths about Freeze Dried Rose Petals

There is a lot of conflicting information on freeze dried rose petals.  The information below should help you understand them better so you can make an intelligent decision when purchasing your freeze dried rose petals.

Myth #1 - Freeze dried rose petals will last for a year or more

While the petals will not just disintegrate, over time they will change.  Most notably, colors will fade and white will turn creamy, especially when exposed to light and humidity.  We schedule our petals to ship within two to four weeks prior to use.  Some companies ship as soon as they receive the order, so by the time you go to use your petals, they may not be the color you would expect.

Myth #2 - The petals still retain their fragrance after they are freeze dried

While some roses have more scent than others, most do not retain much scent after they are freeze dried.  You can easily add your desired amount of fragrance with an essential oil prior to use or request them to be "Scented" on checkout and we'll add it for you.

Myth #3 - Weight is the only way to measure quantity

Measuring the quantity of freeze dried rose petals is a very difficult task to accomplish.  Some companies sell by weight (in ounces), others sell by volume (in cups), and some don't even say how much you get at all!  None of the current methods are perfect.  Measuring by the ounce has the problem that weight can vary significantly depending on the moisture content in the petals.  Measuring by the cup has the problem of how tightly packed the petals are.  Smaller petals will fit together tighter than larger ones as will petals that are more flat than curved.  We sell our petals by the cup, but we also weigh them to make sure we have a consistent product, taking into account the relative humidity.  Eight cups of petals weigh around 1/2 ounce.

Myth #4 - One ounce of petals is equal to 50 roses

For some reason, this statement has been picked up by many companies with complete disregard to it's truth.  We have noticed that some companies claim their containers have 300 petals and are equivalent to four dozen roses.  If you do the simple math, their roses have less than 7 petals each, which is absurd.  While there is no exact answer, there is an approximate range that is within reason.  A rose typically contains 20 to 40 petals, depending on the variety, so one rose can yield 1 to 2 cups of petals.  We do not use all of the petals from a rose for our Premium and Specialty petals as many of the outer guard petals, small center petals, and other petals with imperfections go into our imperfect Pathway containers.  Therefore, it typically takes 20 to 25 roses to make one ounce or 16 cups of freeze dried rose petals.  Our 8 cup containers have approximately 180 to 200 petals, depending on the size of the petals.

Myth #5 - All freeze dried rose petals are the same

Not all freeze dried rose petals are the same.  We offer samples so that all of our customers know what to expect when they receive their order.  Many other companies do not offer samples.  We have a high quality product and we aren't afraid to show it.  You would be surprised at the difference in quality of petals available.  Our roses are imported from South America, known for exceptional quality roses.  To have an excellent freeze dried product, you need to start with excellent roses.

Myth #6 - It is easy to just pull apart fresh roses the day before the wedding

There is a great deal of labor that goes into "petaling" roses.  The timing must be just right so that the roses are open and in full bloom, but not past their peak.  Also, fresh petals quickly degrade in quality, so while the idea of fresh petals is great, you likely will not have fresh petals by the time you use them.

Myth #7 - I can soften the freeze dried rose petals so they are like fresh again

While they will not become as soft as a fresh petal, they can reabsorb moisture and become slightly softer and more pliable.  The easiest way to soften the petals is to place them in a bathroom while taking a shower.  This can sometimes brighten the color of darker petals.  To some degree, the longer the freeze dried rose petals are exposed to the moisture, the softer they will get.  However, too much moisture can damage the petals.  Remember, they have gone through a complicated process just to get them dry.  If the humidity in the air is normal or high, this procedure can be done within a few days before the event to achieve your desired effect.  If the air is dry, the petals may not soften or will quickly dry out again.  For most uses, such as table decoration and aisles, softening is not necessary.

Myth #8 - The freeze dried rose petals need to be kept frozen, then I just thaw them out to use them

They are NOT fresh petals that are frozen.  The "freeze" in freeze dried rose petals only refers to the process used to dry the petals.  Once they are dry, they should only be stored at room temperature.  Do not put freeze dried rose petals in a refrigerator or freezer, they are completely dry and will not wilt.

Myth #9 - I can float freeze dried rose petals in water

This is a tricky one, it really depends on a lot of factors.  Although some companies claim you can use freeze dried rose petals in a bathtub or floating with candles in a vase, in general, they just do not do well in water.  While they do float, they will also reabsorb water.  When this happens, they will discolor and lose their shape.  You will eventually be left with soggy, shapeless petals.  The question is whether they will hold up long enough for your particular application.  If you hold off putting them in the water until the last minute and they remain undisturbed, they can look good for hours.  If you put them in a bathtub and jump in, they obviously will turn soggy much quicker.  The best thing to do if you want to use them in water is to test run a sample first to see if you get your desired effect.

Myth #10 - They come in blue or any other color I need

There are no blue roses in nature, so likewise, there are no blue freeze dried rose petals.  We have found some companies claiming to sell blue freeze dried rose petals, but be warned, they are NOT freeze dried.  If the colors are not natural (such as blue or green), they are mostly likely chemically treated with dyes and preservatives.  While they may be real rose petals, they are nowhere near the quality of freeze dried and should not be represented as such.  They will stain worse than fresh petals, are very limp, and do not look realistic at all.  You can easily tell they are chemically treated petals by their unnatural color and dark veins.  The veins of the petals absorb the chemicals and become darker than the petal itself.

What is (and is not) a quality Freeze Dried Rose Petal

Important Ordering Information:

While we are often filling last minute requests, you can order up to a year in advance.  Ideally, you should order at least 3 months in advance to secure your quantity and color selection.  Orders placed in advance are entered into our reservation system where we schedule a shipping date based on your occasion date and zip code.  Your petals typically ship about 3 weeks before your event for the best quality, while ordering in advance guarantees availability of your color and quantity.  We were the first company to offer this service, with the philosophy of having satisfied customers rather than a "take the money and run" approach.  While we occasionally lose a sale when a customer changes their plans, in the long run we have extremely happy customers.  If you need your petals sooner or have any special requirements, please use the Special Instructions area on the Checkout page.  You can expect freeze dried rose petals to arrive approximately 2 weeks prior to your event date.  For events less than 2 weeks away, we typically ship within 1 business day when in stock.  Rush orders can often be filled, but color selection may be limited as advance orders take priority.  Please note that if you are paying by credit card, we do not charge your card until the petals ship.


Quantity recommendations for FREEZE DRIED:

Tossing:  1/3 to 1/2 cup per guest

Table decoration:  2 to 4 cups per table with centerpiece

Aisle, per square foot:  8 cups for dense, 4 cups for moderate, 2 cups for light, 1 cup for scattered.

Flower girl:  4 to 8 cups per flower girl

Scattered = 1 cup per square foot Light = 2 cups per square foot Moderate = 4 cups per square foot Dense = 8 cups per square foot

Use the chart below to determine the number of cups of freeze dried rose petals needed for an average aisle that is 3 feet wide.  The type of coverage along the top row corresponds to the photos above.  The last two columns are for a 6 inch border on each side of the aisle.

length of aisle in feet scattered light moderate dense 6" light border 6" dense border
10' 30 60 120 240 20 80
20' 60 120 240 480 40 160
35' 105 210 420 840 70 280
50' 150 300 600 1200 100 400
75' 225 450 900 1800 150 600
100' 300 600 1200 2400 200 800

For example, to have moderate coverage on a 50 foot aisle, you would need 600 cups of petals.

Need help determining how many petals you need?  Click here for our new Quantity Calculator


Quantity recommendations for SILK:

Tossing:  12 to 18 petals per guest

Table decoration:  50 to 100 petals per table with centerpiece for a light sprinkling

Aisle, coverage per 100 petals:  1 square foot for dense, 2 square feet for moderate, 5 square feet for light

Flower girl:  100 to 200 petals per flower girl

Need help determining how many petals you need?  Click here for our new Quantity Calculator



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