By: Virginia Masero, Los Altos, CA
Do you want to know how to keep your cut roses looking good longer than you ever thought possible? Here is what you do.
Sugar-Clorox® Mix Prepare a Sugar-Clorox Mix by putting one-half cup granulated sugar and two teaspoons of Clorox in a two-gallon pail of warm (not hot) water. This is your Sugar-Clorox Mix, which is basic to the longevity of the roses. The sugar keeps the roses developing and the Clorox prevents bacteria from forming and clouding the water.
Cut Late Afternoon The best time to cut roses is in the late afternoon. The sugars that “feed” the blooms, which keep them erect and opening slowly, are produced early during the day and accumulate in the stems. If picked early in the day these sugars are in the plant roots and are not available to the blooms. It is helpful, when cutting roses, to water well the day before.
Hardening the Roses The cut roses are hardened by plunging them immediately in the waiting two-gallon pail of Sugar-Clorox Mix. As you put each rose in the pail cut off on a slant under water one inch of the submerged stem. Cutting under water prevents a bubble from forming, which seals off the stem from drawing water. It is important that this is done, otherwise the rose blooms are likely to droop. Be sure to take off the leaves and thorns that might be below the water level when the roses are later arranged.
Put the pail of roses in a cool, dark place, like a protected patio where the roses can spend the night hardening. If this hardening is done during the day because the roses had to be cut in the morning to be used that day, allow two or three hours for hardening. It won’t be as effective as the overnight hardening in a cool, dark place, but it will help to give longer life to the roses.
If the roses are to be arranged as a bouquet in water, the same Sugar-Clorox Mx can be used. Give the roses a fresh one-half inch cut before putting them in the vase. The cut does not have to be under water, as the roses already have been hardened. There should be no foliage below the water level.
If the roses are to be made into an arrangement using oasis, soak the oasis up to one-half hour or more in Sugar-Clorox Mix. Give at least a half-inch cut on a slant to the roses when you arrange them in the oasis. Each day bring the water level up with the Sugar-Clorox Mix that was used when the roses were hardened. The roses do not need to have their stems recut after they have been arranged. The Sugar-Clorox Mix keeps the roses developing and free of bacteria.
Any flowers or greens used in arranging with roses should also be hardened. Be sure the container used is clean and never placed in direct sunlight or drafts.
At night it is even helpful to place containers in a cool place like a patio or garage and let the roses slumber through the night.
Traveling with Roses When traveling with roses, mist the roses with a water spray from an old spray bottle filled with water. This clear water will help keep moisture in the petals when they might be exposed to hot sun and air. I have taken vases of roses in oasis to New York and Hawaii and have given a thrill to the unexpecting recipients. It made me feel good too.
Excellent Roses for Cutting Some roses are not good cut flowers. The old garden roses are gorgeous, but many are not good for cutting. They might last a couple of days compared to some hardy roses that will last a week or more when properly hardened. Here are some good roses that will give you much joy. They are heavy bloomers and excellent for cutting and arranging.
- Color Magic
- Double Delight
- French Lace
- Gold Medal
- Helmut Schmidt
- New Day
- Precious Platinum
- Sea Pearl
- Sexy Rexy
- Touch of Class
- Tournament of Roses
- White Delight
Note on Sugar-Clorox Mix The Sugar-Clorox Mix is not a new concept BUT the proportion of sugar to Clorox is considerably more than used by most rosarians. It does make a real difference. I have observed the use of this mix at our church where the flower lady, Mary McLanathan, makes huge bouquets using up to six oasis blocks holding many flowers, plus roses from her garden and sometimes mine. These bouquets last all week under a skylight! She keeps the water level up by adding the Sugar-Clorox Mix at least once or twice a day. During the week any flowers that are spent are removed and replaced if there is a need. She is vigilant and has made a reputation for herself for her magnificent lasting arrangements. Bewitched, Olympiad and Precious Platinum are the longest lasting of all the roses used.
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