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How to make your roses last longer

Keep your roses looking beautiful for longer with this easy how-to guide

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!

Difficulty

Easy

What You Need

  • Long-lasting rose variety (such as Poison, Reward, or Valentino)

  • Vase

  • Thorn stripper or sharp, sterilized knife or scissors

  • Filtered water (if applicable)

  • Plant food labeled for cut flowers or sugar water

  • Resin (if desired)

Cut roses can last about a week in plain water before they begin to wilt and die. 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. We’re going to lay out everything you need to know to make your roses last as long as possible.

prolong roses life dark pink
Violet Oswald/Shutterstock

Start with a long-lasting rose

While you can't always choose the rose variety you receive, if you have a choice, aim for one known for lasting longer than others. 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 white vase
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Prune the roses right away

Remove all leaves below the waterline of your vase or container. Doing so helps keep the flowers from growing bacteria and improves the health of your roses.

Step 1: If your roses have what are referred to as “guard petals,” which are the larger, outermost petals that protect the not-yet-bloomed petals, remove these. By removing the guard petals, your roses can open up more fully.

Step 2: After the initial day that you prune your flowers, be sure to remove loose or dead leaves and petals, which will also help make your roses last longer.

Red roses in a clear vase, on a light brown table against a white background
Atlas Studio/Shutterstock

Put the roses in the proper solution

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.

Step 1: Upon receiving your flowers, fill a vase with fresh water. If your tap water contains many chemicals or minerals, use filtered water.

Step 2: Cut the very end of the stem or stems off and put the flowers into the water-filled vase. Cutting the end of the stem opens the supply line back up and lets the cut flower take in fresh water.

Step 3: Adding a plant food labeled for cut flowers to the water can increase the lifespan of your cut flowers. Some foods that are meant for hydroponic plants may also help, but they may have ingredients that will go to waste, such as things meant to stimulate root growth.

Step 4: If you do not have any plant food, you can use a bit of sugar instead.

Step 5: When the flowers begin to wilt, cut the end of the stem again and change out the water. The flowers should perk back up fairly quickly.

Step 6: Do not add soda to your water or place the flowers directly into soda. Some life hack videos and lists claim that soda will help cut flowers last longer, but there is no evidence this works. 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 for a short time.

A row of individual roses, hanging upside to dry
Tim Mossholder/Unsplash

Preserve the flowers

Of course, no rose can live forever. If you’d like to keep them forever, or at least for longer, you can preserve your cut flowers.

Step 1: The best method of drying cut roses is to hang them upside down in a dry, dark place for two weeks.

Step 2: If you would prefer a more permanent solution, you can cut the stem off the rose and encase 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 a long-lasting variety, keeping the water fresh, adding a little sugar, and cutting the end of the stem will still work. 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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