Roses are the top selling flower in the US and it’s no wonder that it’s our national flower! We get A LOT of questions about rose care and below is our updated guide to roses and garden roses care and handling:
The most basic care for cut roses and garden roses can be summed up in this simple chart. For more detailed care tips, read on for our step-by-step instructions and also our more frequently asked questions when it comes to the care of roses and garden roses!
Roses and Garden Roses Care and Handling – Detailed Tips
Step 1: Promptly remove roses from packaging
If you have ordered roses or garden roses from us, they will be packed in a box and shipped directly to you from our farms. On arrival, you’ll want to quickly take care of them to ensure best results!
Carefully remove any strapping that is keeping the roses in place. You’ll see that the roses are typically packed in bunches with protective cardboard wraps and an outer plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap and any rubber bands holding the roses together. Leave the cardboard wrap on (we explain why in the following steps).
DO NOT be alarmed if the roses look a little tired and maybe even sometimes a little squished from their journey to you. They just need to hydrate in water and they’ll start to perk up.
Step 2: Prep roses for hydration
Prep your vase or container that you’ll use to hydrate the roses. It’s best to use something tall enough to support the rose stems or you’ll have to cut down more of the stems to ensure they are supported upright.
You’ll also want to make sure the containers are clean. I like to use some diluted bleach and a brush to scrub away any dirt or buildup. Make sure to rinse thoroughly and fill the vase with about 4” to 5” of warm (not hot) water. Why warm water? Roses can drink up warmer water better than cold water. If you can’t get warm water, then room temperature water will be just fine.
Remove any lower foliage on the stem that would fall below the water line. You can just gently pull them off (but be careful of thorns) or use floral shears to snip them away. You do not want leaves sitting in water because it will cause faster bacteria growth and that will shorten the vase life of your roses.
Lots of people recommend cutting stems under water (to avoid getting any air in the stem); however, it’s easier said than done and if you need to cut dozens and dozens of roses, it’s kind of a pain to do. It frankly does not have a significant impact on the vase life, so we recommend just giving each stem a quick cut at a diagonal (at least 1” from the bottom of the stem) and immediately place the roses in clean tepid water. Getting them into water right away is the key to avoiding any air in the stems. Why do you want to avoid this? Air in the rose stem can block water from traveling up to the bloom and that will result in a dehydrated bloom that will just droop and wilt.
Also, make sure you’re using a vase that is tall enough to support the rose stems. If you want to use a shorter vase, then cut down more of the stems to ensure the roses are supported upright and not hanging out too much over the edge of the vase. It will not only look better, but the roses will hydrate better!
When cutting roses (or really any flower), make sure that you’re using clean sharp tools. It makes a BIG difference! If you’re using dull shears, it will be hard to cut through thicker stems and dull shears can crush stems which will make it harder for the roses to drink up water.
Step 3: Put roses in water
After removing leaves and giving the roses a cut, put them in water right away with the cardboard wraps still on. Leaving the cardboard wraps on for the initial hydration period helps support the stems and blooms and the upright position makes it much easier for the rose to drink water.
Let the roses sit like this for around 4 hours in a cool spot away from direct sunlight and heat. Then you can carefully remove the cardboard wraps. After you’ve carefully peeled away the wrap, don’t be alarmed if the roses are still a bit closed. Over the next day or two, the blooms will open up more as they continue to hydrate. Depending on what rose variety you have, some will open up A LOT more like in this example of garden rose, Beatrice:
Step 4: Properly store and maintain roses
After your roses have hydrated for at least 6-8 hours, you can re-cut and re-arrange as needed. For wedding or event, you can allow the roses to hydrate up to 1-2 days before arranging into bouquets and centerpieces.
For the best vase life, keep your roses in a cool spot away from heat and sunlight. Also don’t keep it next to fruit. Most fruits emit ethylene gas and that can speed up the aging of your roses.
You’ll want to keep an eye on the water level to make sure the roses have enough. Some rose and garden rose varieties can drink quite a bit of water and so you’ll want to add more if the water level drops below 3” (room temperature water at this stage is fine).
You should also re-cut your roses and change the water every 2-3 days. If your water looks murky or your vase is a little slimy, that means there is bacteria growing in there. Clean it out (or switch to a different vase) and you’ll keep your roses happy!
Step 5: Enjoy!
If you follow these steps, you’ll maximize your enjoyment of your roses! It’s important to remember that not all roses are equal. Garden roses typically have a much shorter vase life than standard roses. So even with the best care, they may only last 3-5 days.
Also, if you live in a hotter climate or if it’s winter and you have your heater cranked up to the 80s, the warmer room temp shortens the vase life of roses. Roses will do best in temps that are at most mid-60 to mid-70 degrees.
Frequently Asked Questions about Roses Care and Handling
We get A LOT of questions about roses and so we thought it would be helpful to share the most common questions along with our feedback in order to help you take the best care of your roses! If you have a question that we didn’t answer, just drop us a line or leave a comment!
Why do your roses ship with no water?
The BEST way to ship roses is dry-packed. That means no water, no moisture wrap or ice packs. You’re probably asking – won’t the roses die?
Nope! When roses are cut fresh at our farm, they go through a hydration process that gets them prepared for transport. While in transport, the roses are in what we call a hibernation stage. This is the safest way to ship roses and ensure the best vase life.
If we added water tubes or ice packs, that can actually harm or decrease the roses’ vase life. Too much moisture inside the shipping package could cause premature molding. Also, you want your roses to stay in “hibernation” so they only start to bloom once they get to you!
Why do my roses look wilted?
It’s perfectly normal for roses to look a little tired on arrival as they’ve traveled to you straight from our farms. They’ve been “sleeping” during the transit process and so they just need a fresh cut and some time in water to perk back up. If you follow our care tips, they’ll look refreshed in no time! And after a day in water, the blooms will open up more and really start to show off!
Why are there thorns still on my roses?
Our farms only minimally remove thorns from roses because it’s best for vase life. Each time you strip off a thorn, that leaves some of the rose stem exposed. That makes it easier for air and bacteria to get inside. Air pockets make it difficult for the rose to hydrate and obviously bacteria growth shortens roses’ vase life. It’s best if thorns are not removed at all, but if you don’t want them, then it’s best that they are not removed until they get to you, their final destination!
To remove thorns we recommend carefully snipping off the tip with shears. If you’re processing dozens and dozens of roses for an event, then a thorn stripper or simply running a thick towel down the stem to break off thorns will be easier and faster. We do not recommend using anything (like metal thorn strippers) that strips away the outer layer of the stem. Removing that protective layer just makes it easier for bacteria to get into your roses.
Some rose and garden rose varieties are thornier than others. Some will only have a few, whereas others could be covered in thorns. If you want a less thorny rose, just drop us a line and we’ll help you choose the right color and variety to fit your needs!
Why do my rose blooms look dirty?
Your roses aren’t dirty! What you’re probably seeing are guard petals. On some roses, they are more pronounced than others, but guard petals are the outer, usually shorter petals that can look rougher and darker in color.
Leaving guard petals on helps protect the bloom during transit and so on arrival you can gently pull them away if you don’t like the look of them.
I only got 6 roses??!!
This question comes up with some frequency and it’s because the way most of our farms pack roses you only see 6 blooms in a bunch, but don’t worry, there are 12 roses in there! The roses are packed in 2 layers, so with the cardboard wrap on, you only see 6 roses when they first arrive. Packing roses this way helps better protect the blooms and puts less compression on them during transit.
Why is it so hard to get the roses out of the box?
Depending on how many roses you’ve bought, some bunches may be tightly strapped inside the box. We know that it can be a little tough to get them out, but we want to make sure your roses stay safe during the transit process. Strapping them in tight is like seat belting them in for the ride! The less they move around inside the box, the better for the roses!
The easiest way to unstrap the roses is to carefully cut the strap from the bottom of the box. Just turn your box over and you’ll see the strap coming through from the inside of the box. Just use sharp scissors or a box cutter to carefully cut the strap. That’s all there is to it!
Do I need to use floral food?
We’ve had customers ask: I used floral food. Why didn’t my roses last longer? Using floral food can help prolong the vase life of your roses; however, it does NOT mean that you can slack off on caring for them. Just because you use floral food, doesn’t mean you can just let your roses sit for a week and everything will be fine. For the best vase life, you’ll still need to re-cut and change water and clean your vase!
What is the best way to hydrate all the roses for my wedding or event?
If you’ve bought roses in bulk for a wedding or event, the care of roses is the same as just one dozen. However instead of vases, you’ll be able to hydrate more roses in larger containers. We recommend simple 5 gallon buckets. These are widely available at hardware stores; just make sure they are clean.
For our roses and garden roses, we recommend 24-30 stems per bucket. You don’t want to overcrowd the roses because they’ll need some breathing room to bloom and allow air to circulate around the flowers and foliage. If they’re packed too tightly, it’s harder for them to open up and condensation can form which could cause molding.
How do I get my roses to bloom faster?
This is a frequent question comes up a lot from brides and wedding planners. We recommend having roses delivered 2 days before an event (ex: a Saturday event would mean a Thursday delivery), but sometimes this might not be possible, particularly for destination weddings. If you don’t have enough time to let the roses go at their own pace, follow the tips in our blog post on how to get roses to bloom faster and you’ll see those roses open up more quickly!
So that’s our comprehensive roses care and handling guide! If you have any questions, just give us a holler! We’re always happy to hear from you and if you want to check out our roses, visit our rose bouquets and our garden rose bouquets gift pages or see our full rose collection for weddings and events!