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.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:

Selecting the Freshest Roses

  1. 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.[1]
    • Cut the stems at a 45 degree angle using a clean pair of hand pruners.
  2. 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.[2]
    • Choose roses from the refrigeration unit, since roses that are kept cool last longer than those that have been sitting out at room temperature.
    • A reputable florist will buy their flowers multiple times a week so they always have fresh flowers to deliver.[3]
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  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.[4] 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.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 3:

Preparing the Stems

  1. Trimming the stems underwater helps to keep them fresh by preventing air from entering the bottom of the stems.[5] 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.
  2. 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 12 inch (1.3 cm) to 1 inch (2.5 cm) 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Trimming the stems every couple of days will help the roses take in water more effectively, since after a while 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.
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Part 3
Part 3 of 3:

Displaying the Roses

  1. 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.[6]
  2. [7] 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 in the water so your flowers last longer.[8] 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.
  3. [9] Every day, 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.
  4. 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.[10] 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.
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Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What should I do if I'm not going to be home when the roses I ordered get delivered?
    Jeanne Walker Jeanne Walker is a Florist and the Owner of Fringe Flower Company, a floral design shop that specializes in weddings, special events, and daily deliveries. Fringe Flower Company, based in Walnut Creek, California, provides customized hand-tied and vase bouquets along with potted plants, succulent gardens, tulip french buckets, and wreaths. Jeanne also conducts floral design workshops and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
    Jeanne Walker
    Florist
    Expert Answer
    Ask that the roses be left somewhere shaded, like your porch. If there isn't a dark spot to leave them, ask a neighbor if they can pick up the bouquet for you and hold onto it until you get home. You just don't want the roses to be sitting out in the sun.
  • Question
    How can I make sure I'm ordering the freshest roses for delivery?
    Jeanne Walker Jeanne Walker is a Florist and the Owner of Fringe Flower Company, a floral design shop that specializes in weddings, special events, and daily deliveries. Fringe Flower Company, based in Walnut Creek, California, provides customized hand-tied and vase bouquets along with potted plants, succulent gardens, tulip french buckets, and wreaths. Jeanne also conducts floral design workshops and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
    Jeanne Walker
    Florist
    Expert Answer
    Make sure the florist you go through purchases new flowers several times a week so you know they're fresh. The florist should also keep everything fresh cut every single day, and they should have a refrigerated delivery truck.
  • Question
    What are some tips for designing a rose centerpiece?
    Jeanne Walker Jeanne Walker is a Florist and the Owner of Fringe Flower Company, a floral design shop that specializes in weddings, special events, and daily deliveries. Fringe Flower Company, based in Walnut Creek, California, provides customized hand-tied and vase bouquets along with potted plants, succulent gardens, tulip french buckets, and wreaths. Jeanne also conducts floral design workshops and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
    Jeanne Walker
    Florist
    Expert Answer
    If it's an all-rose centerpiece, I personally like to mix different size roses in the same color because you get a really nice textural look. I also make sure all of my roses are open to the same extent.
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Warnings

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Things You'll Need

  • Vase
  • Pruners
  • Water
  • Bleach, penny or aspirin
  • Flower food
  • Garden gloves in case of thorns

References

  1. http://scvrs.homestead.com/PreserveRoses.html
  2. Pilar Zuniga. Floral Designer & Owner, Gorgeous and Green. Expert Interview. 12 March 2020.
  3. Jeanne Walker. Florist. Expert Interview. 15 April 2020.
  4. Pilar Zuniga. Floral Designer & Owner, Gorgeous and Green. Expert Interview. 12 March 2020.
  5. Pilar Zuniga. Floral Designer & Owner, Gorgeous and Green. Expert Interview. 12 March 2020.
  6. Pilar Zuniga. Floral Designer & Owner, Gorgeous and Green. Expert Interview. 12 March 2020.
  7. Pilar Zuniga. Floral Designer & Owner, Gorgeous and Green. Expert Interview. 12 March 2020.
  8. Jeanne Walker. Florist. Expert Interview. 15 April 2020.
  9. Jeanne Walker. Florist. Expert Interview. 15 April 2020.

About This Article

Pilar Zuniga
Co-authored by:
Floral Designer & Owner, Gorgeous and Green
This article was co-authored by Pilar Zuniga. Pilar Zuniga is a Floral Designer and the Owner of Gorgeous and Green, a floral design studio and Certified Green Business based in Oakland, California. Pilar has over ten years of experience in floral design. With a focus on being earth-friendly and supporting local growers, Gorgeous and Green has been featured in Energy Upgrade California, Molly My, Apartment Therapy, 100 Layer Cake, Design Sponge, and Trendy Bride. Her studio provides floral arrangements and gift basket, event and wedding design, and she teaches workshops on flower design and sustainability in her industry. Pilar received a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001. This article has been viewed 761,523 times.
23 votes - 94%
Co-authors: 24
Updated: May 24, 2023
Views: 761,523
| Roses
Article SummaryX

To keep roses fresh, trim the stems underwater, which will prevent air from getting inside the roses and causing deterioration. When you trim the stems, use a knife instead of scissors since scissors can crush the stems. Before you put the roses in water, take off the lower leaves so they don't rot underwater and cause bacteria to build up. Also, remember to change out the water every few days since roses do best in fresh, clean water. To prevent bacteria from growing, add a 1/4 teaspoon of bleach to the water before you put the roses in it. For more tips, including how to display your fresh roses, read on!

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