Fresh rose petals are a wonderfully romantic touch to any event, especially weddings. Petals are readily available and affordable. There are three types of petals to choose from; fresh, freeze-dried and silk. All three are readily available from local growers, florists, and the internet. Fresh and freeze-dried are both fragrant and cost about the same. The count in a pound of petals and the coverage area will depend on the size and variety of rose, humidity, weather and thickness of spread you want.
There are a few disadvantages to using fresh however. Fresh petals will leave stains on carpeting and linens and are not allowed in most churches or carpeted facilities for that reason. Also fresh petals have a very short shelf life which means they must be shipped overnight or next day so the shipping fees may be costly.
Fresh petals are available from florists, nurseries and occasionally from commercial rose growers. Many commercial nurseries and rose growers are wholesale and will sell only to licensed florists and businesses.If you have a nursery or grower in your local area give them a call, you may get lucky, especially if you are willing to go with mixed colors. I have found that a great number of growers are willing to sell petals to the public at a retail price.
Petals purchased directly from a local grower usually come in a 5-gallon bucket and you will have to arrange to pick them up. Most wholesale growers close by 3 in the afternoon and are not open on weekends. You can also check with your local wholesale flower market, some like the San Francisco Flower Market are open to the public for a few hours after the wholesale trade is finished for the day.
Petals ordered online can vary greatly in price. Check several different sites and always pay close attention to the shipping time and charges. You may find a great low price but the shipping and handling may be outrageous.
Freeze-dried petals last considerably longer will not stain linens or carpeting. Another advantage is that they do not require overnight shipping, so fees are normally pretty reasonable. Since they can be delivered well in advance preparation time is not left to the last moment which is very nice for the bride.
The disadvantage to freeze-dried is the petals are not as soft and the colors are not as bright as the fresh. Freeze-dried petals may be “re-hydrated” if you want a softer petal and you have the time. To re-hydrate place the petals in a steamy room for 30-60 minutes or until the petals become soft but still dry to the touch. Check on the petals about every 10-15 minutes and remove when they have reached the desired softness. Never let the petals get wet, any water whatsoever will ruin them and you will find yourself with nothing but a big slimy mess.
The advantage to silk petals are many. Petals are available at most stores; they last forever; come in any number of colors and need no particular care or storage. You do have to watch the packaging. You may find for decorating projects that require a large amount of petals it is more cost effective to go with fresh or freeze-dried.
Here is a simple guide for how much you will need for tables, walkways and tossing.
Pathway – 1 Pound Rose Petals = 900 to 1200 petals = 15 square feet for light spread or 15 inches 12 feet
Rose Petal Pathway – One bag will lightly cover approximately a 3 feet x 10 feet.
Flower Girls – One bag of rose petals can easily fill one large basket or two small baskets.
Bridal Toss – One bag will fill 20-30 petal cones or 30-40 guests if asked to take a handful.
Round Tables – One bag will decorate 5 or 6, 60 inch round tables with a light scatter
Banquet Tables – 200 rose petals for every 3 feet of table runner.
In a perfect world, you would store petals at 65-80 degrees, with 30-35% humidity. For the imperfect world, avoid storing petals in high heat & humidity. Store your fresh petals in a cool, dark place like a bedroom closet or a cool basement until your wedding day. Many places recommend you order at least 3 months in advance to guarantee availability, however last minute orders are often accepted. Shipping is usually overnight and runs about $30 – $40.
You may be tempted to use petals from your own garden but I strongly advise against it unless used as an aisle runner. Roses from your garden may have very tiny bugs about the size of a grain of pepper that cannot be seen until they are moving around on your table. I have tried washing petals from the garden and it eliminates the bugs but drying can be a problem and if the petals are not thoroughly dry you will end up with a slimy mess. Do not refrigerate or freeze petals.