Extending the Life of Cut Roses
by Ed Bradley
We have told you that, with a little TLC, you can have tremendous roses during the Fall season. In order to realize the most benefit of those great blooms, here are some practical hints to help you extend the life of the cut roses, and thus extend the enjoyment of your rewards:
- Sharpen your shears. Crushed stems block tiny stem vessels that transport water to the bloom, causing early wilting and tissue decay.
- Clean containers with bleach. If the vase or bucket is simply rinsed and left to dry, the bacteria live on and multiply.
- In addition to buckets and vases, coolers should be regularly cleaned with a disinfectant. Wiping with a baking soda solution works.
- Cut the blooms in the early morning (8–10 a.m.), as they are more turgid from taking up moisture during the night.
- After you cut roses from the bush, immediately re-cut stems under water to remove any air blockage in the tiny vessels.
- Cut stems at an angle to maximize tissue surface exposed to the solution.
- Remove any foliage that will be below the water level for an extended period (bacteria is present on the foliage, which will cause early decay of tissue).
- Place stems into water (or a conditioning solution) at “garden temperature”. Do not place in cold water immediately.
- Use a preservative. Commonly used professional hydrating solutions include Chrysal (#1, #2, or Clear) and Floralife. These may be powder or liquid and are generally available at garden centers or florist shops. Some commonly used “home remedies” are: drop an aspirin in the flower vase; or add a splash of unflavored Listerine; or add a splash of Clorox and 7-Up.
- Avoid metal containers, which react with many flower preservatives, rendering the solution far less effective.
- Move roses to a cool, dark place for 30 to 60 minutes for the conditioning period.
- To harden roses, place in a cooler as close to 36 degrees, as possible.
- In a frost-free refrigerator, you can enclose the blooms with plastic bags or wax paper to prevent damage from the loss of moisture caused by the refrigerator. Condensation may build up inside the enclosure.
- Use flower/foliage tubes to avoid damage to leaves and blooms.
- If flowers are used for home bouquets, use fresh water every three days, and re-cut the stems about one-half inch.