A few days ago, I shared a bunch of beautiful rose blooms from my garden with a friend. To my amazement, while she was putting them into a vase, she stirred a few spoons of sugar into the water. Of course, I had to learn more because if there are any tricks or hacks to keeping cut roses gorgeous for longer, I’m definitely in!
Cut roses usually last for about a week in a vase. They can last significantly longer if flower food is added to the water and they are stored in a cool area or even refrigerated at night. Trimming the stems underwater before placing them in the vase will also help to keep roses fresher for longer.
I confess that I prefer to enjoy roses on the plant, but sometimes I want to share a bunch of beautiful roses with a friend or bring some color indoors. Then I need them to look beautiful and stay fresh for as long as possible.
How Long Do Roses Last?
Rose blooms on a plant usually last for around 2 glorious weeks, but the moment you cut the flower off the plant, its decline will be swift unless it is properly cared for. Fortunately, if you provide the right conditions, a cut rose can last in a vase almost as long as it would on the plant.
Most of us know the disappointment of receiving a magnificent bunch of roses only to find that they wilt within a few days. While you can’t control where bought roses come from, there are some tricks that will make the blooms you harvest from your own garden last as long as possible.
How Do You Keep Fresh Roses Longer?
Everything from how a rose is cut off the plant to the outside temperature affects how long it will last in a vase. Most of us know we need to pop cut flowers into a vase of water, but it turns out that it only requires a tiny bit more effort to keep them fresher for longer.
How To Cut Roses To Make Them Last Longer
If you are planning to bring some cut roses indoors, their successful transition to a vase inside starts from the moment they are detached from the plant. According to the senior rosarian (doesn’t that just sound like the ultimate dream job?), Michael Marriot of David Austin Roses, the first step to ensuring your roses last a long time is how they are cut off.
Let’s go through how to get your roses from the plant to the vase:
- Use sharp shears or a blade – the sharper, the better. The idea is that you don’t squish the stem during the cutting process. If you can slice through cleanly, the tiny water uptake channels in the stem will remain open.
- Cut roses early in the morning – They will be fully hydrated and get the best possible start.
- Choose the correct blooms for your vases – If you cut roses off too early, the buds may never fully open. If you wait too late, they may already be naturally declining.
The best rose blooms for vases are those in the late bud stage. This means that the outer petals are open, but the flower is not yet fully open. If you are caught off-guard and need cut roses to open in record speed for a photo shoot or event, there are some ways to do that, but the flowers won’t last as long.
- Have a bucket of cool water with you – It may not seem like a long time, but the moment your rose has been cut, it will appreciate having the cut section immersed in water. Any bucket or even an old enamel jug will do as a temporary fresh-cut container.
- The strongest blooms tend to grow in the front of the rose bush – I know you don’t want to mess up the appearance of your rose plant, but the blooms at the back, hidden parts of the plant, may be leggy growth. Roses with well-developed stems will last longer in a vase.
How To Keep Roses Fresh In A Vase
Once you have harvested roses from the garden, or if you have been gifted some cut blooms, the next step is to know how to make your fresh flowers last as long as possible. Some simple hacks can make them last much longer than only a week.
- Cut the stems underwater – Using a very sharp cutter or blade, slice about an inch from the stem while it is underwater. This will prevent air bubbles from blocking the uptake channels.
- Thoroughly clean the vase or container – There must be absolutely no trace of bacteria from previous arrangements in your vase. I like to use a couple of teaspoons of baking soda in a vase of warm water. Then add a splash of white vinegar. The fizzing action dissolves away any residue. Then give your vase a quick scrub and thorough rinse, and it will be ready to hold your precious blooms.
- Remove lower leaves – Any leaves below the waterline in the vase must be removed. They will encourage the growth of bacteria in the water.
- Use a flower food – This not only contains nutrients that feed the flowers but also inhibits the growth of bacteria in the vase.
- Use cool water and fill your vase nearly full – Lots of people only put a few inches of water into vases. It turns out that a vase should be at least ¾ filled with water.
- Keep your flower arrangement in the shade – This is one of the most critical factors affecting how long your roses will last. While roses plants love plenty of sun, cut roses must stay out of direct sunlight.
- Recut the rose stems and change the water every couple of days – Snipping off the stems and refreshing the water often will keep them fresher.
HANDY TIP: Okay, I didn’t know this, but while researching this article, I discovered that putting the entire arrangement into the refrigerator every evening will make it last longer. Just ensure it’s not near any ripe fruit, which will shorten the lifespan of the flowers.
Can Roses Last A Day Without Water?
Most of us have seen beautiful wedding bouquets that absolutely must look fresh for the entire day. How long a rose can remain out of water without wilting depends a lot on the temperature and keeping it out of direct sunlight.
Most wedding bouquets are prepared on the day, and the roses are kept cool until the last moment before the event. If you have an event and will be using roses, it’s a good idea to sneak the blooms an occasional cooling spritz of water if the weather is hot.
The truth is that once they are cut, roses can only last a few hours out of water before they start drooping and wilting. If you don’t have a vase handy when you receive a bunch of roses, it can help to wrap the stems in damp paper towel or wet fabric until you get them home. Then immediately prune off the lower sections underwater to open up the water uptake channels.
What Color Roses Last The Longest?
The longevity of cut roses seems to have more to do with the variety rather than the color. Roses with thicker, longer stems have a better chance of lasting longer than twiggy or short-stemmed cuttings.
Longer stems also mean you can trim them more frequently, which may stretch their lifespan by another day or two. Although there is no difference between the rate of deterioration based on the color of the flower, shriveled edges and browning petals will be less noticeable on darker-colored roses.
Does Sugar Water Help Roses?
So, back to my friend who added sugar to the vase. It turns out that she was absolutely correct!
If you don’t have plant food available, a quick cut-flower water recipe is to add a bit of sugar and an equal amount of white vinegar to the water. The vase size makes a difference, but about two tablespoons of each will usually be more than enough.
There are, in fact, plenty of things you can add to your vase to keep your cut roses fresher for longer. Even half an aspirin dissolved in water can help to keep them fresher for longer. I have even successfully used lemonade with a dab of bleach.
Flowers are the perfect pick-me-up and always a lovely gift. Beautiful rose blooms can transform any room, and they are rich in meaning. There are lots of ways to preserve sentimental rose blooms to try to make them last forever, but from now on, I may start enjoying them more as cut flowers. That way, I get to bring a tiny bit of my garden indoors, and nothing beats the fragrance of beautiful, homegrown, scented roses.