DH got me three dozen red roses for our 10th anniversary. The anniversary was 12/28, but I got the flowers on 12/27. So that makes the roses 5 days old now.
I don't know about everyone else, but I have a pretty mediocre record with cut roses. I've had some that bloomed beautifully and seemed to last and last, and others that just flopped their pretty heads nearly immediately, giving up before they'd even started.
This looked like a promising group. I separated them into two vases. The first I kept on the kitchen island, front and center:
The second group, in a somewhat smaller vase, was placed in the family room:
(these photos were taken on 12/29)
I've learned that it makes a really big difference to cut the stems under cool water before placing them in the vase.
Just about everyone knows you have to re-cut the stems before you arrange them, because the end of the stem is dead and dried out, and the stem won't be able to absorb any food or water to nourish the flower. So you cut the dead stuff off, and hope for the best. For a lot of flowers, it doesn't matter if you cut out in the air, but for roses, this is an almost assured kiss of death.
So fill a container with four or five inches of water, submerge the stem, and use a sharp knife or shears to re-cut the stem at an angle.
The other major key to keeping roses alive is to use plant food.
I was a bit annoyed that the florist had only included one packet of the cut flower food to sustain my 3 dozen roses! That's just ridiculous. C'mon, DH just shelled out for three dozen roses, the least you can do is throw in a few extra plant food packets!
Fortunately, I had an extra packet left over, so I was able to make enough to start both vases. All was well, as you can see above.
After a couple of days, though, the kitchen vase was running dangerously low, and I refilled it with plain water. I thought about what I was doing, but I was too lazy to give them anything but water. I use our R/O (reverse osmosis filtered) water, because our tap water will kill just about anything, there is so much salt in it from our demineralizer.
They started drooping almost right away! AAAUUUGGGHHHHH!
Like any good web junkie, I plugged "cut flower food" into Google and found the following recipe (there's other good advice at that link, too):
The bleach kills anything nasty in the water, the vinegar acidifies it which makes it easier for the stems to drink, and the sugar feeds the flowers. All you have to do is dissolve the sugar in the water (you may want to warm the water to make it easier), then add the bleach and vinegar. Takes 30 seconds, if that.
In a vain attempt to save the kitchen roses, I recut them (under water) again, emptied the vase, and refilled it with the above recipe. Alas, the damage was done.
See what my foolishness has wrought:
The family room flowers, on the other hand, did not get any plain water. I refilled that vase with the above recipe and see the difference:
Not a drooper in the bunch.
I realize the possibility that some of these roses were less fresh than the others, but the general failure of the kitchen roses seems to indicate that the fresh plain water was the killer. Pretty much all other factors -- length of the stem, light, heat, etc -- were the same.
Next time: no plain water. With a recipe that easy, there's no excuse. I hope others can benefit from my experience, as well!