Freshly cut roses add beauty and elegance to any space. While there’s no way to keep arrangements fresh forever, there are ways to lengthen the amount of time that cut flowers will appear healthy and vibrant. We asked the experts at Witherspoon Rose Culture in Durham, North Carolina, for advice on how to cut and keep the gems from our gardens; here are their recommendations:
- Cut roses in the morning. Cutting roses in the middle of the day will cause them to wither much faster. Plus, it is more pleasant to cut roses in the cooler, pre-noon hours than in the blazing midday sun.
- Take warm water into the garden. Cutting a rose from the bush will remove it from its source of food and water as well as open it up to air, which causes the rose to deteriorate. Placing freshly cut stems in water as quickly as possible will prevent air bubbles from moving up the stem and will keep the roses hydrated.
- Cut at a 5 leaflet. Encourage healthy growth by cutting above a five leaflet at a 45° angle. Cutting an outward-facing five leaflet encourages new growth away from the center of the bush, while cutting at a 45° angle allows water to roll off the cane, preventing bacteria and fungus from collecting there.
- Remove leaves and thorns before placing roses in a vessel. Decomposing foliage encourages bacteria growth in the water, which shortens the lifespan of your cut roses. Leave foliage at the top of the stem and remove any leaves that will be below the waterline in your vase.
- Use a sanitized vase and add a floral preservative. Using a vase without sanitizing it first introduces old bacteria to the fresh roses, shortening their lifespan. When making an arrangement, start with a clean vase and add a floral preservative that inhibits bacteria growth, feeds the stem, and acidifies the water.
- Remember to change the water. Every two days, empty the old water and refill the vase with clean water and more floral preservative. This will keep the bacteria levels down and keep the roses fresher for an extended period of time.
Expert tip and image from Witherspoon Rose Culture in Durham, NC.