By The Old House Web


Cutting rose flowers is in itself an important cultural operation. Improper cutting can injure the plant and decrease its vigor. Always use sharp tools - breaking or twisting off flowers injures the remaining wood. Use a hook blade pruner or sharp knife for a clean cut.

It probably is best if you do not cut any flowers during the first season of bloom. If early flowers are not cut, the plants usually develop into large bushes by fall. Some flowers may be cut at that time. If you do cut flowers during the first season, cut very short stems only. Removing foliage with long-stemmed flowers robs the plant of its food-manufacturing capacity, which reduces growth potential and subsequent flower yield. Even when plants are well established, cut stem only as long as necessary. Be sure that at least two leaves remain between the cut and the main stem.

If you do not cut flowers, remove them just before the petals fall. Remove withered individual flowers in a cluster to five remaining flowers more room to develop. After all flowers of a cluster have withered, cut off the entire stem just above the top five-leaflet leaf using sharp pruners or a knife.

Cut roses just as the two outer petals unfold - they will remain in good condition longer than if you cut them when they are fully open. To keep roses fresh longer, cut them in late afternoon and place them immediately in water.

After cutting blossoms, remove any lower leaves that will be in water and recut the stems under water, removing about 1 inch of stem. This removes the air bubble that formed when the stem was cut in air. Then, place the stem in warm water (100 degrees F) to which you've added a floral preservative. Floral preservatives add carbohydrates and reduce water pH to an acid condition, which retards bacterial growth.

Before arranging flowers, clean the container first with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10 percent bleach solution - 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Rinse well with tap water and add the warm water/preservative solution. Place the container with the roses in a car, cool (38 to 50 degrees F, if possible) room for 2 to 4 hours.

As you arrange the flowers, again cut stems under water and place them in the container previously filled with the same type of preservative solution as described above. Freshly cut roses should last a week indoors if they are cut at the proper stage, handled correctly, and placed in sterile containers with warm water and a floral preservative.

You can use a commercial floral preservative, or you can make your own: To 1 gallon of water, add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Or, combine equal parts of lemon-lime soft drink (not diet) and water. Flowers in a preservative solution will last about twice as long as those in plain water. Whether using a preservative or not, flowers will last longer if you replace the water in the container every 2 to 3 days.

Other ways to extend the life of cut roses and most cut flowers include:

-Place out of direct sunlight. -Place away from the front of a hot or cold air register. -Add water daily. -Place in a cool, dark place at night or whenever the arrangement is not being appreciated. -Rearrange your flowers as old flowers wilt; cut the remaining flower stems and make a smaller arrangement.

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