Flower Food for Long-Stemmed Roses


Long-stemmed roses are a traditional gift of love and devotion and as such, you want them to last as long as possible. Add three key ingredients to regular tap water, follow some simple care tips, and your rose blooms will thrive for up to two weeks.

Commercial Rose Preservatives

Most commercial florists provide a packet of rose preservative with your purchase. These packets contain bleaching agents, a sugar solution and an acidifier. Use these packets or make your own formulas.

Bleach, Acid and Sugar

One-half teaspoon of household bleach keeps algae from forming in the vase, and sugar provides food. Plain water is not acid enough for roses; pH should be below 4.0.


White vinegar has a pH of 2.0, and it will lower the pH of tap water. Dissolve 2 tbsp. granulated sugar in 1 quart of lukewarm water and add 2 tbsp. of vinegar.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is less acidic than vinegar with pH of 2.3. Adding 2 tbsp. to 1 qt. of tap water along with 1 tbsp. granulated sugar will preserve and feed roses.

Lemon-Lime Soda

Non-diet, lemon-lime soda (7-Up® or Sprite®) has a pH of about 3.91 and contains the necessary rose food sugars. It can be mixed with equal parts tap water to create a rose-friendly environment.


Rose stem tips will scar over quickly and inhibit water uptake, shortening life. Trim daily to increase hydration and prolong bloom time.


  • Michigan State University: Rose Preservatives
  • Charleston Rose Society: Recipes
  • UC Clermont: pH Levels
Keywords: long-stemmed roses, rose preservative, rose food

About this Author

Moira Clune is a freelance writer who since 1991 has been writing sales and promotional materials for her own and other small businesses. In addition, she has published articles on VetInfo and various other websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hartwick College.