How to make your roses last longer

Roses can be such a thoughtful gift. Whether it’s a single red rose from an admirer or a bouquet from your friends to celebrate a special occasion or achievement, there’s something exciting and heartwarming about receiving roses — and giving roses can be just as thrilling and joyous, too. If only they lasted longer!

Cut roses can last about a week in plain water before they begin to wilt and die. So what can be done to extend that lifespan? If you’ve come here asking just that question, then wonder no longer! We’re going to lay out everything you need to know to make your roses last as long as possible.

A close up of dark pink roses

Start with a longer-lasting rose

While you don’t get to choose the rose variety if you’re the one receiving the roses, if you’re the one selecting the roses, pay attention to the variety you choose. There are a lot of online retailers and companies that sell specially preserved roses, some of which claim to last up to a year. However, if the idea of chemically-preserved roses doesn’t sit well with you, or if you don’t want to pay the extra cost for shipping, there are still options.

How long different rose varieties last has not been significantly studied, but there was one study done by the American Floral Endowment. The AFE looked at 16 different rose varieties and measured how long they lasted in water and in plant food, as well as how much the blooms opened. The longest-lasting rose variety from their study was Poison, a lovely dark pink variety, followed by Reward and Valentino roses. These three lasted several days longer than other varieties on average.

Red roses in a clear vase, on a light brown table against a white background

Putting them in the right solution

When you get flowers, the first thing you should do is cut the very end of the stem off and put them in fresh water. The end of the stem is how the flower absorbs water and nutrients that allow it to stay fresh. Over time, though, it dries out and, shortly after, so does your flower. Cutting the end of the stem opens the supply line back up.

Depending on where you live, your tap water may be an issue for cut flowers, too. Different areas have different amounts of chemicals or minerals in the water, and some plants are especially sensitive to these. If you’re looking for the absolute longest-living cut flowers, filtered water may be a better option.

Adding plant food to your water can also increase the lifespan of your cut flowers. Any plant food labeled for cut flowers should help. Some foods that are meant for hydroponic plants may also help, but may have ingredients that will go to waste, such as things meant to stimulate root growth. However, if you’d like to skip the lines in stores or online, you can substitute the plant food with a little bit of sugar water.

Some life hack videos and lists claim that adding soda to your water, or even placing flowers in straight soda without the water, will extend the length of their life but this has been debunked. The caffeine and carbonation isn’t very good for the flowers. However, in a pinch, flat, caffeine-free, soda can act as sugar water for your plants.

When they begin to wilt, recut the end of the stem and change the water out. You should see them perk back up fairly quickly.

A row of individual roses, hanging upside to dry

Preserving them

Of course, no flower can live forever. If you’d like to keep them forever, or at least for longer, you can preserve your cut flowers by drying them. There are several different methods for drying flowers, but for cut roses the best method is to hang them upside down in a dry, dark place for a couple weeks. Alternatively, you can cut the stem off and incase the flower itself in resin. Pressed roses in resin can make excellent coasters and are a lovely way to keep your flowers for a lifetime.

Now you know the tips and tricks to keeping your roses bright and fresh for as long as possible! Starting with a longer-lasting rose variety can be a big boost, but, even if your roses aren’t longer lasting, keeping the water fresh, adding a little sugar, and cutting the end of the stem will work for any variety. When your roses come to the natural end of their lives, consider drying them or preserving them in resin to make them last even longer. No matter why you’ve been given or received roses, we hope you enjoy them for as long as possible!

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