Many lucky ladies received fresh cut roses for Valentine’s Day and many more will receive them as anniversary gifts and special occasion mementoes. But how you take care of them from the very beginning will determine if your roses last only a few days or a few weeks.
When one first gets their roses, the first thought is to get them into water. While this is a good idea, just placing them in a vase of water will not do much. The stems will just sit in the water and not be able to take up water or food.
Next, the type of container is also important. Do not use one that is dirty or hard-water stained without cleaning and sterilizing it. Dirt is easily removed by washing in warm soapy water and then rinsing in it in a sink of warm water and vinegar. The combination of warm water and vinegar will sterilize the vase while the vinegar will remove any lasting soap suds. To remove the hard water stains, simply fill the vase with vinegar and let it sit overnight. In the morning, wash as usual.
After your vase is clean and sterilized, the next step is to fill the vase with water and add some preservative. While your roses will come with one package of preservative, it is always a good idea to know how to make your own. A DIY version of the preservative consists of ¼ of an aspirin, crushed, three to four teaspoons of white vinegar, and one tablespoon white sugar. Add these ingredients to the vase along with the water to substitute for the commercial version of preservative.
But how does this preservative work and why it is important. The preservative itself feeds the flower and helps it take up water while protecting it from fungal and bacterial problems. In our homemade version, the aspirin along with the vinegar creates an acidic environment that aids the flower in taking up water. The vinegar also prevents fungus and bacteria from growing in the water. Lastly, the sugar feeds the flower.
Once you have the water and preservative in the vase, the next step is to process the flowers. Roses will need to be cut inside a bucket or under running water. The reason for this is if the rose is cut in the open air, the freshly cut stem will take up the air. This will cause an air bubble in the stem, which will block any water going up the stem. In doing so, your flower will become dehydrated, which will decrease the life of your flower.
Also, what you cut your flower with and how is just as important as cutting it under water. Never cut your roses with scissors. The way by which scissors cut will crush the stem and prevent water from moving up. The best tool to use is a sharp knife. When cutting the stem though, always make the cut at an angle. Cutting this way will increase the amount of water that the stem can take up.
After the rose has been cut, place in the vase and arrange with remaining plant material.
To extend the life of your flowers, never place in direct sunlight and always place in a cool room. Another approach that many people use is to place the flowers in the refrigerator. While the cool temperature of the fridge is great for the flowers, the food stored in the refrigerator can be harmful. Many fruits and vegetables produce ethylene, which is a chemical that is used to speed up fruit ripening and will force your flowers to bloom sooner and die quicker. If you choose to use this approach, remove all fruits and vegetables from your fridge.
All the steps described above will need to be repeated every few days, to keep your roses fresh and healthy.
Roses are a beautiful and timeless gift that anyone can receive. How you care for them from the very beginning will determine how long your gift remains fresh and new looking.