How To Keep Your Roses Alive

Florist Camp roses arrive within hours of being cut in the field. With proper care, they should last 5-10 days. Here’s how we care our flowers to extend its shelf life.

  1. Remove any leaves that may touch the water. Leaves will introduce bacteria to the water, causing roses to wilt more quickly.
  2. Use clean, sharp cutters to trim the stems on a diagonal, ¼” from the bottom, for maximum water absorption.
  3. Place stems into water immediately.
  4. Change the water every three days, adding more rose food to the fresh water.
  5. Top up the water as it evaporates to ensure the roses are never thirsty.

However, we’ve come across some few odd tips for how to keep flowers alive longer: adding vinegar to the water, putting a penny in the vase, and bleach were among them. In the interest of not believing everything you read on the Internet, let’s test them all out on bouquets of roses. You’ll be surprised at the simple trick that will keep your flowers alive or LESS!

MYTH # 1:  Aspirin
The idea here is that aspirin for flowers will be an acid neutralizer and will help the flowers absorb the water.

Method: Drop a 325-milligram tablet of aspirin into the clean water and let it dissolve on the first day and again when we changed the water every other day.


Results: These roses were the first to go. After drooping within the first couple of days, the flowers were all dead by day 5.

MYTH # 2:  Penny

Supposedly, the reaction of the metal and the water will help keep bacteria at bay. This tip was widely used many years ago but isn’t as common today.

Method: We dropped one shiny penny at the bottom of this vase of roses.

Results: When we came back after the weekend, these roses were done for. The roses had opened up fine but didn’t last past day 8.

MYTH # 3:  Bleach

The bleach was thought to slow the bacteria build-up that can kill the flowers.

Method: We put ¼ teaspoon of bleach in the vase on the first day and when we changed the water every other day.

Results: The bleach didn’t change the color of the flowers as much as we thought it would. The tips of the stems (about as much as we trimmed from the stems every other day) started to get whiter after a couple of days, but the red roses stayed mostly red until the end of day 8 when this bunch died as well.

MYTH # 4:  Sugar

Sugar water for flowers is meant to act as a fertilizer or Miracle Gro. After a while, though, it can crystallize, cause bacteria growth, or mold.

Method: Sprinkled ¼ teaspoon of sugar into the vase on the first day and when we changed the water every other day.

Results: The roses with sugar in the water opened up nicely but started to droop quickly. They were dead by day 9, which is still an impressive amount of time to keep roses alive in an office!

MYTH # 5:  Clear Water

Clean, fresh water is the simplest way to keep flowers alive longer. Most florists recommend changing the water every other day.

Method: We changed the water in the vase every other day.

Results: These roses stayed open longer but started to get soft and mushy. We pronounced them dead on day 9.

MYTH # 6:  Vinegar

Vinegar in the flower water is also supposed to help kill bacteria that can kill the flowers faster. This is a tough one because if you put too much vinegar in or if it’s too concentrated, it won’t help.

Method: We put ¼ teaspoon of vinegar in the vase on the first day and when we changed the water every other day.

Results: The small amount of vinegar helped keep the flowers alive a lot longer. The flowers didn’t get discolored, but started to droop on day 8 and died on day 9.

MYTH # 7:  Flower Food

Flower food is to flowers what preservatives are to food—it gives them a longer shelf life. When the flowers open, it should help keep them in that state longer.

Method: We followed the directions on the packets of flower food that came with our roses and mixed the flower food with lukewarm water in a clean vase on the first day and when we changed the water every other day.

Results: These roses never opened all the way, but they did stay alive longer and didn’t droop as much as many other bouquets did. They died on day 9.

MYTH # 8:  7UP

This tip came from interior designer Tamara Sayago-Dunner. It’s probably a combination of the carbonation adding air to the water, the sugar in the soda, and the acid.

Method: We filled the vase with 7UP (any lemon-lime soda will do!) instead of water and changed the soda every other day.

Results: We have a winner! These roses not only stayed alive for 12 days (in fluorescent lighting, nonetheless) but they also stayed perky and fresh-looking.