7 Tips to Keep Cut Roses Alive

Keep your flowers looking fresher for longer.

We love fresh flowers. Depending on the season, you'll find us gathering blooms whenever and wherever we can find them. Whether it's a shock of pink camellias from our garden, a handful of fragrant gardenias from a generous neighbor, or a dozen roses from the local florist, we love to have fresh flowers in every room. While they're at home in our favorite vases for a little while, they don't always last very long. Sooner, rather than later, they start to wilt. The roses begin to droop, and it's just a matter of time before the once-lovely flowers end up in the compost pile. There are a few tips out there for keeping cut flowers looking fresher for longer, so read on and try these tricks on your next bunch of roses, and you just might get to enjoy them for another week or two.

1. Prepare the Vessel

It's important to clean the vase you plan to put your flowers in. Wash the vessel to rid it of any dirt, dust, and grime, to ensure your flowers get the best start possible.

2. Use Lukewarm Water

When you fill the vase, don't use water that's too hot or too cold. Extreme temperatures can shock the blooms and shorten their life, so it's better to use lukewarm or room-temperature water. The amount of water to fill the vase is important too—not too much or too little—so filling the vase 3/4 full of water is just about right.

3. Use Flower Food

Often, bouquets come with a packet of flower food that's designed to keep cut flowers looking fresh. These packets are made up of sugar to feed the flowers, citric acid to maintain the water's Ph balance, and bleach to keep the water clean. Dissolve the packet in the vase of water before putting the flowers in—your flowers will thank you. If you don't have a flower food packet, you can purchase food for cut flowers at your local garden center or online.

Want to make your own food? There are several DIY recipes that help flowers last longer, according to online flower shop ProFlowers:

  • 1/4 cup of lemon-lime soda, which feeds the flowers from the sugar or,
  • A few drops of vodka reduces the production of ethylene, a ripening gas that can make roses droop

4. Remove Leaves and Guard Petals

Removing extraneous leaves and guard petals will conserve the flowers' energy. Sometimes florists leave guard petals, the outer petals on the roses, to protect them during transit. Guard petals may be slightly green or brown.

"They are easy to spot and could be easily mistaken for wilted or dying petals. It is important to remember that these guard petals are NOT a reflection of the health or quality of the roses," according to rose grower Vivaroses. All you need to do is carefully remove them. "If you want to remove a guard petal, hold it at the base and gently pull it down toward the stem so you don't damage the rest of the flower," explains 1-800-Flowers.

Aside from the guard petals, remove leaves below the water line, if leaves sit in standing water it encourages bacterial growth. Do not remove the rose's thorns.

5. Snip the Stems

Roses need to stay hydrated, but as soon as you cut them, air bubbles form that can block water flowing into the stems, which can cause drooping. To reduce air bubbles from forming, there are a few ways to snip the stems. Either cut the rose's ends and put them in water immediately or cut them while they are in the water. Cutting the ends at a 45-degree angle will make it easier for the flowers to soak up the water and will keep them looking their best for longer. When working with roses, use pruners to make sharp cuts to the stems.

6. Change the Water

Changing the water regularly will help keep your blooms fresh. When you change the water, be sure to remove spent leaves and petals that have fallen. Debris left in the water can rot and shorten the life of your blooms. Florists recommend changing the water every few days, especially if its cloudy, to keep the water fresh—when you do, this is a good time to re-trim the stems and add flower food to the fresh water.

7. Keep the Roses Cool

Roses like cooler temperatures overall. Whatever you do, keep flowers out of direct sunlight and away from hot or cold drafty air. Overnight, florists recommend refrigerating your roses or placing them in the coolest, dark spot you can find.

With the proper care, the florists at Bouqs say cut roses should last 7 to 10 days. For more tips and old Wive's tales on keeping cut flowers fresh, check out these 9 fresh-cut flower secrets. Having a vase of flowers can brighten and enliven a room instantly, check out these tips for arranging grocery-store bouquets including how to cut flowers for professional-looking arrangements.

What's your go-to preservation for flowers? Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping your roses looking fresh?

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