Roses are beautiful, fragrant flowers that come in a variety of colors and sizes. Given the right care, roses can stay fresh for a week and a half or more after being cut. To keep your roses from wilting, be sure to change their water every few days, use a very clean vase and keep them in a cool spot. See Step 1 to learn more about how to keep roses fresh.
Selecting the Freshest Roses
Cut your own roses early in the morning. If you’re cutting roses from your own rosebush to display indoors, cut them as early as possible in the morning, before it gets hot outside. Cutting them while it’s still cool will keep them from wilting just after cutting. Immediately after cutting the roses, put the stems in a clean bucket of fresh water.
The night before cutting your roses, water the rosebush. Well-hydrated roses will stay fresher longer than roses cut from a bush that hasn’t been recently watered.
Cut the stems at a 45 degree angle using a clean pair of hand pruners.
Buy cut roses from a florist you trust. If you’re not cutting your own roses, try to buy them from a well-reputed florist, preferably one with whom you have a relationship. That way you’ll be able to get your hands on roses that were very recently cut, rather than roses that may have been sitting there for a week.
Ask the florist which flowers arrived that very morning, and try to select the very freshest roses possible.
Choose roses from the refrigeration unit, since roses that are kept cool last longer than those that have been sitting out at room temperature.
Squeeze the roses where the petals meet the stem. This is a sure way to tell whether roses are still fresh. When you’re examining roses before making your purchase, gently squeeze them at their base, where the petals come together at the stem. If it feels loose and squishy, the roses are old, and you should avoid them. If it feels firm and taut, the roses are fresh.
Inspect the roses for bruised or broken petals. Look for roses with well-formed, colorful petals. Examine the tips of the petals to make sure they aren’t bruised or brown. When you bring the roses home, you can remove a few outer petals that have been damaged, but there’s not much you can do to improve the appearance of damaged tips on the inner petals. Intact petals are more attractive and will stay fresh longer than bruised ones.
Keep them in water on the way home. If the roses are out of water even for a few minutes, they’ll suffer for it, and they won’t stay fresh as long. When you go to the flower shop, you might want to bring along a bucket filled with a few inches of water so you’ll have a place to keep the roses watered when you take them home. If you don’t have a bucket, ask the florist to package them with water.
Preparing the Stems
Trim the stems underwater. Trimming the stems underwater helps to keep them fresh by preventing air from entering the bottom of the stems. When air gets in, it immediately starts to cause flowers to deteriorate, the same way it turns apples and avocados brown and mushy. You can trim the stems under running water or submerge them in water to do the trimming.
Use a knife or hand pruners. A sharp knife or a pair of sharp hand pruners are the best tools to use to cut rose stems. Using a standard pair of scissors squeezes the stems, which can prevent them from taking in water as effectively and cause them to die more quickly. Cut off to of length from the bottom of the stems, or more if you’re arranging them in a short vase. Cut the stems at a 45 degree angle, which enables them to take in water more easily.
Make sure the cutting tool you use is extremely clean. Hand pruners should be cleaned with hot, soapy water or a mild bleach solution after every use, since bacteria can remain on the pruners and affect the next flowers you cut.
Remove leaves from the stems. The portion of the stems that will be submerged in water should be completely free of leaves. This is because leaves left underwater will start to rot, causing bacteria to accumulate in the vase and making the flowers die a lot more quickly. You can leave a few leaves attached toward the top of the stems, but remove anything that would be underwater in the vase.
Keep trimming them every few days. Trimming the stems every couple of days will help the roses take in water more effectively, since after awhile the tips of the stems will become a little mushy and damaged. Use the same technique you used to trim them in the first place, making sure your tools are clean and cutting underwater at a 45 degree angle.
Displaying the Roses
Use a sparkling clean vase. If you simply rinse your vases between uses, bacteria can live inside the vases and damage your fresh roses. Clean the vase you plan to use with hot, soapy water, making sure to scrub the inside with a bottle brush. Rinse it thoroughly before proceeding.
Fill it with fresh water. Roses take in a lot of water after they’re cut. Fill the vase 3/4 full with fresh, cool water from the tap, then arrange the flowers in the vase so that the stems are within an inch of the bottom of the vase. This way they’ll be able the reach the water they need to stay fresh. Consider adding some flower food to the water. Commercial flower food will provide nutrients the roses need to stay fresh for a longer period of time. Ask for a few packets of flower food when you buy roses at the flower shop.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of bleach per quart of water. This keeps the bacteria level low. Just be sure not to add too much bleach to the water, or the roses will be damaged.
Adding a penny or an aspirin tablet to the water is also said to help control the bacteria levels.
Change the water every few days. Every two days or so, change the water to ensure that bacterial growth doesn’t damage your flowers. Fill the vase with fresh water, more flower food and the right amount of bleach. Trim the stems of your roses and arrange them in the vase once more.
Keep the roses cool. Roses will stay fresh for many days if you keep them in a cool spot in the house. Avoid placing them near sunny windows or in rooms that tend to be on the warmer side. You can even store your roses in the refrigerator overnight to keep them cool while you sleep, then set them back out on the table during the day.
Keep cut flowers away from fruit. Fruit releases natural gas, which causes flowers to wilt.
Once your flowers are beginning to wilt, instead of throwing them in the trash, grind them up and add them to your compost pile. This will provide extra nutrients for the soil.
A biocide is a product that kills bacteria. For cut flowers, you can purchase suitable commercial biocides from a florist or garden center. There are also DIY versions of biocides, such as 1 milliliter of bleach to of water or 1/2 gram of citric soda to a liter of water.
When working with roses with thorns, use garden gloves to protect yourhands and fingers from sharp thorns.
Do not remove the thorns from roses. Removing the thorns from roses causes them to age faster.
Things You’ll Need
Bleach, penny or aspirin
Garden gloves in case of thorns
How to Grow Long Stem Roses at Home
Sources and Citations
http://www.rose-gardening-made-easy.com/keep-roses-fresh.html – research sourced
http://scvrs.homestead.com/preserveroses.html – research source
http://www.plantea.com/cutflowers.htm – research source
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