10 Tips To Keep Roses Looking Great

Ashleigh Christoph is the resident floral expert at Heinen’s in Pepper Pike, Ohio. She has been with Heinen’s for over 8 years, regarding her passion for all things floral she says, “When I go to work, it’s like I get to walk into a garden every day! A lot of us who work in floral know it’s a passion. We get to work at our hobby”. Need advice on floral arrangements or floral care? Stop in and see Ashleigh, she’ll be glad to help!

A bouquet of classic red roses is a great way to show gratitude and express your love on Valentine’s Day. Alot of times, customers ask me what they should do to ensure their flowers stay bright and beautiful as long as possible. I tell them that Roses can last in the vase anywhere between 5-7 days, however some can last up to 2 weeks with proper care! I’ve jotted down some of the most effective rose care tips and although there is no guarantee that the life of your roses will be dramatically extended, these simple steps will make sure that you get the absolute most out of your roses.

Keep them warm

First and foremost, when purchasing any cut flower through these cold winter months it is important to make sure they are packaged properly. The floral bag will do its job in protecting your roses from the store to the car. However, if the temperature is going to be below 33 degrees, I don’t suggest leaving them in your car for an extended amount of time.

Get them in water quickly

You’ve got about a 1-3 hour frame to get their roses into water (again depending on temperature). For the most part they can be out of water for a little while, but the quicker you get them into a vase, the better.

Use a clean vase

It is important to put your roses into a very clean vase. There are a lot of methods to doing this (And everyone has their own), but I recommend just using a little bleach and liquid dish soap.

Keep loose leaves out of the water

After you un-wrap your Roses you’ll want to snip off any leaves that will be below the water line when you put your roses in the vase. Leaves that are submerged in the water create bacteria that are harmful to the roses.

Use an appropriate amount of water and plant food

The amount of water you put in your vase depends on the flower food packets you use. You DO want to use the flower food, and mix it accordingly. When purchasing your Roses you want to read the back of the packet and make sure you have enough food (sometimes 1 packet is only enough for 1 pint of water!). I recommend filling your vase anywhere from ½ to ¾ full with cold water. There are a lot of home remedies for flower food or “tricks” like adding soda, vodka, or 7UP. I don’t recommend these solutions even though they may not cause harm to the roses. The flower food packs are developed and proven to make your Roses last longer! If you run out of the flower food packets you can use a drop (or ¼ teaspoon) of bleach and a table spoon of sugar in your vase water.

Give them a clean cut

After you have your vase ready with the water and flower food you want to give your Roses a clean cut, and then get them into the water immediately. You have about 10 seconds to put each stem into the water before the stem starts to heal. This is important because if you wait too long between cutting the Rose and putting it into the water it causes air bubbles in the stem which could cause the rose not to get properly hydrated.

Another important tip to keep your Roses beautiful longer is to use a SHARP object to cut the stems. Ordinary scissors are often times not sharp enough for this task and this is the biggest mistake you can make when arranging your roses. You want to use either a very sharp knife or a pair of garden pruners when cutting your roses. It is best to cut at an angle, but not necessarily the most important thing. The most important is to make sure your rose gets a CLEAN cut!

Change that dirty vase water

I recommend changing your vase water every couple of days. The rule of thumb is if you would not drink your vase water, neither would your flowers. When you change your vase water you want to give your roses a fresh cut and use another packet or two (depending on how much you need) of the flower food.

Keep them safe from temperature extremes

To get the most out of your roses I recommend putting them in the coolest spot in the home away from lights, extreme drafts and heaters. You’ll also want to keep your Roses away from fruit or anything that emits ethylene. Sometimes I get asked about storing roses in the garage for future use; this is not a great place for roses as the fumes from the car will kill them.

Wait to remove guard petals

The best things you can do to keep your Roses looking fresh is changing the water as instructed above, and re-cutting the stems. We leave the guard petals on (the outer petal on your Rose that might be green or brown on the edge), you should wait to remove these petals until the day you are going to use them in an arrangement, because removing them shortens the life of the Rose.

Keep an eye on your roses

I tell our customers that Roses can last in the vase anywhere between 5-7 days, however some varieties can last up to 2 weeks with proper care! If your Rose looks a little sad or droopy, change your vase water with the flower food solution, and re-cut the stems. They should perk up in 2-3 hours.


  1. My husband loves to bring flowers home every now and then and I love keeping them in vases afterwards, but I would like to know what I can do to make sure that I can keep them alive longer than usual. I appreciate the advice about changing the vase water every few days. This is definitely something that I neglect to do, but I will endeavor to change that in the future. Thank you so much for your advice!

  2. My wife has always taught me to cut the stems of the roses before putting them in water like you said, but I was surprised to learn that if you wait too long to put them in the water, you can cause air bubbles to form! I always get my wife flowers when she is having a bad day, and she has always been the one to cut the stems and put them in a vase. I will request to do it next time, and I will be quick to put the flowers in the water!

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