Keeping your cut flowers fresh for longer is a very common problem and a lot has been written about it. However, finding something that actually works is complicated as so few articles are objective and not just click bait or product promotion. Today I will share with you tips on how to care for cut roses that actually work.

1.) Always select fresh flowers at the shop.

A lot depends on the initial condition of your flowers. If you want your roses to last a week or longer you need to pick fresh roses at the store.

Signs that roses are fresh:

– Firm Receptacle
Check that receptacle (the thickened part of a stem from which the flower grows) is firm and the flower head is not about to lean to the side.

-Healthy Leaves
Inspect the leaves. Fresh leaves are proof that water and nutrients are absorbed by the flower. Stay away from roses with wilted leaves or leaves with holes in them, both are symptoms of diseases.

-Pretty Petals
If flowers did not get enough water their petals will turn transparent and then become brownish. When picking roses, you should check the petals in the middle of the flower. Petals at the bottom of the bloom can be a bit unsightly, but that’s ok. Such petals are called guard petals. Never pick a rose with rotting leaves this process is not reversible.

-Strong Stem
Now turn your attention to the stem. Fresh roses will have a strong stem. Stay away from roses with soft stems.

Mythbusters: care for cut roses the right way, Pink garden roses on white background

2. Clean vase is the key!

Longevity of flowers depends on their protection from bacteria, which are the main reason of premature wilting. It is important, therefore, to start with clean vase and water in order to protect and preserve your roses.

Bacteria and fungi surround us and are waiting to enter the cut surface of the stem and propagate. This, in turn, limits water uptake and the flowers die. Decay symptoms take time, but the longer your flowers are exposed to bacteria the quicker they wilt. Hence, the need to keep the water uptake clean.

In nature, a plant’s root system serves as a filter to limit harmful chemicals and bacteria from entering the plant and reducing its ability to absorb water. Cut flowers no longer have this protection and so it is up to you to protect them. So use a sterile vase.

Mythbusters: care for cut roses the right way, flower food attached to flowers

3. Use the right flower food and the right amount of it.

Rose in nature receives nourishment from roots allowing it to grow and develop. Once it is cut from the bush, a rose loses its source of nourishment and water. And so this should be provided artificially.

Flower food has been developed to mimic the flower’s original environment, and allow the flower to last longer. All flower food packets have dual action: to fight bacteria and to provide nourishment. So if you have one attached to your flower bunch use it. Follow the directions on the packet and always use the recommended amount. Use too much and you can kill your roses.

What flower food packets contain

Sucrose (sugar); Sugar serves as a source of energy to compensate for the loss of root system and ensures the longevity of the flower. Flower packets contain the perfect amount of nutrients as too much sugar can harm your flower.

Acidifier; Water from the tab is alkaline and can reduce the life of cut flowers. An acidifier will help keep the pH of the water closer to optimal.

Inhibitor of microorganisms (bacteria); Designed to restrain growth of bacteria in the water and prevent blockages of water uptake.

Agents that remove dangerous particles. Certain salts, dirt, and debris can damage flower and so need to be drawn out of the water.

Home remedies are less useful compared to specialised flower food while some can even be even harmful. All home remedies have a single action. For example, Aspirin will only kill bacteria but would not provide nourishments. You may try to compile various home products to get the desired effect, but chances are that you will reduce longevity rather than increase it.

    Home remedies that don’t work:
    7UP – Sprite Vodka
    Home remedies that can be of some help:
    Aspirin Sugar Bleech
    Home remedies that work magic:
    Refreshing water regularlyPlacing flowers in the fridge overnight
Mythbusters: care for cut roses the right way! cut stems at an angle

4. Condition your flowers: remove foliage and trim stems.

Cut the stems at an angle. This will remove bacteria from the water uptake and increase water supply. Always use a sharp knife or clippers to avoid crushing the stem.

Remove leaves that will be below the water line. Leaves sitting in water will deteriorate and rot producing bacteria. But, don’t remove all leaves from the stem as the flowers require leaves for their hydration process. Be gentle during the removal process as you don’t want to create cuts that could be attacked by microbes.

Mythbusters: care for cut roses the right way!

5. Refill water regularly.

Check the water level daily and refill if needed. Once water level drops or the water becomes cloudy it needs to be changed. When refreshing water you need to remove remainders from last use and start afresh with a clean vase and a flower food refresh.

For roses, this process can be performed on Day 1, on Day 3, and again on Day 5, doing so will help you obtain maximum vase life.

6. Place your vase strategically.

When it comes to cut flower preservation Ethylene gas is your enemy. Ethylene is an odourless, colourless gaseous plant hormone that is being produced by fruits, vegetables and floral products. This gas can also be man-made. Common man-made culprits are auto exhaust, propane heaters, and cigarette smoke.

    Some simple rules to follow:

Keep your flowers away from vegetables and fruits.
Don’t place flowers in areas with heavy cigarette smoke or exhaust.
Keep dying flowers away from fresh ones.
Keep flowers out of higher temperatures and direct sunlight as it will shorten their life overall.


To enjoy fresh flowers the longest you need to follow 6 simple steps:

1.) Select fresh flowers as no remedy can reduce damage completely.
2.) Always use the clean vase to prevent bacteria growth.
3.) Your best bet to keep your flowers alive longer is using specially created flower food and not to resolve to home made remedies.
4.) Condition your flowers by cutting stems at an angle and trimming leaves.
5.) Refill water regularly.
6.) And keep your arrangement away from fruits and vegetables as they will increase flower decay.

Enjoy your roses for a week or two depending on the breed.

If you like this post you may like “Care tips for Anemone flowers“.