Valentine’s Day can catch even the most prepared off guard. Luckily, countries like Columbia and Ecuador send a plethora of roses to the U.S. so you can surprise your loved ones with a beautiful bouquet. But how do you make the flowers last? Clemson University’s floriculturist Jim Faust’s helpful hints will make it possible for you to enjoy your rose blooms long after Cupid’s arrow has disappeared.

Utilize the packet of food that comes with the flowers because it has the nutrients the roses need to stay healthy after they’ve initially been cut.

But, wait, what’s in those packets anyway? Faust knows the key ingredients included to keep blossoms flourishing.

Recently, Faust, who is Clemson’s go-to poinsettia expert, has shifted his focus to roses. He has been working with South American growers to increase rose shelf life by finding ways to alleviate botrytis fungus, which infects plant tissues and is common in more than 200 plant species.

“Roses are an important economic crop to the countries that produce them,” said Faust. “Botrytis will affect any decaying plant, but what you typically see on a rose is the petals turn a brown or tan color.”

By examining growing techniques and processes, Faust hopes to help farmers find the root of the botrytis problem, which can then be easily applied to other crops that suffer the same fungus fate, like peaches and strawberries.

“We hope to help the fruit industry with this research as well,” said Faust. “We’ve had good success applying calcium to roses. Just like it makes your bones stronger, it makes the plant’s cell walls stronger, so the fungus can’t penetrate them. That penetration allows the fungus to eat the plant’s cells and thrive. Building a stronger cell wall helps prevent that.”

While Faust’s research will positively impact the rose economy and longevity for consumers, there is still a way to make your roses last forever. How? Simply hang them upside down and put them in a cool, dark place to let them dry!