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How Sugar Water Affects Roses

By Cleveland Van Cecil ; Updated September 21, 2017
Roses are beautiful for placement around the home.
gros plan sur roses roses fuschia image by alain zanello from Fotolia.com

Roses are the most popular of decorative flowers, immortalized in song and poetry for centuries. Roses are often cut and displayed in the home as a beautiful decoration. Cut flowers eventually die, but the addition of sugar water may delay the process, preserving the flowers for up to several weeks with the right care.

Choosing Roses

Choose the correct roses for preservation in sugar water for success. Look for roses that have only the first or second layer of the pedals loose. Inspect the sepals to see if they turn downward towards the stem. Do not cut roses that re-closed or appeared loose.

Sugar Water

Large amounts of carbohydrates are required for the preservation of flowers in a vase, according to the National Institute of Floriculture. Sugar water provides simple sugars, which act as carbohydrates, feeding the rose and reducing decay of the flower. Treatment with a sugar water as well as a hydroxyquinoline compound, available at garden centers, will increase the life of the cut rose.

Homemade Sugar Water

The University of Illinois extension offers a recipe for sugar water that will extend the life of your cut roses. Add 2 tbsp. of white vinegar, 2 tsp. of sugar, and 1/2 tsp. of bleach to 1 quart of warm water. Alternatively, 1 pint of regular lemon or lime soda is mixed with 1/2 tsp. of bleach and 1 pint of warm water.

Preparing the Roses

Prepare the roses properly before placing them in the sugar water to help prolong life. All leaves on the rose stem are removed to conserve energy. One inch is cut off the stems, at a 45-degree angle using a sharp knife to prevent crushing the stem. Place the vase in an area where there are no extreme heat or weather changes.

Changing the Water

Check the water level often. When the mixture gets low change the water. Remove the roses from the water and wash the stems. Recut the stem and place the roses into the new sugar water.