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girl smelling roses with her mother

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, roses are soon to be everywhere. Their beauty often lasts a day or two, but then petals soon begin to droop and wilt. When properly cared for, roses, in their variety of colors, can be enjoyed for much longer.

Selecting Flowers 

Certain qualities of roses can indicate that they are of the best quality. Make sure to look for the following qualities:

  • Absence of disease, insect problems and discolored growths
  • Straight stems
  • Partially opened flowers or buds showing color
  • Ability to support the bloom without wire
  • No damaged flowers, leaves or stems

“Popular colors of roses for Valentine’s Day are red, pink and white—and each has its own particular meaning,” said Sallie Lee, an Alabama Extension urban home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent.

Care and Handling

The life of roses can be extended to seven to 10 days in total if properly cared for and handled. After picking a vase for the flowers, begin by filling it up with water and fresh floral food. Make sure to use warm water, as it will speed up the roses’ ability to absorb the water and food. Most fresh floral food calls for about eight ounces of water to fill the vase, though larger vases will require more water and food.

“You can also add ¼ cup of clear soda or tonic water to water to extend flower life,” Lee said. “Other tips like adding a crushed aspirin to water can extend bloom time.”

Lee also suggests that the addition of a penny to a vase of water adds copper which, along with a sugar cube, can keep blooms open longer.

Once water is in the vase, submerge the bottom three inches of the rose stems. After soaking, cut off one to two inches off of the bottom of the stems with shears or a sharp knife. This combination of warm water and floral food should last for several days. Roses require lots of water, however, so replace this combination as needed. According to Lee, this can be as often as every two to three days.

More Information

When following these tips, your rose arrangement will last for a longer period of time. For more information on caring for roses or other flowers, visit www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office.


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