The Q&A Archives: Roses Losing Petals

Question: Last year I planted an Austin rose, Tamora. My problem is with the blooms. On the bush, they're fine; and I get lots of them. But as soon as I cut them, all of the petals fall off simultaneously. How can I enjoy these beautiful and fragrant flowers indoors, aside from in potpourri?

Answer: The secret to keeping cut flowers from wilting is to give them a constant supply of water. First rule is to cut in the early morning, and take only the freshest, just barely opened flowers. If you can place cut flowers into a container of water immediately after cutting, you will keep the vascular system within the stem working in an upward direction. When you take the stems out of water, air can clog the cells and can stop the capillary action. Place the stems into a container filled with a mixture of 1 teaspoon bleach and one tablespoon of sugar stirred into one gallon of water. The acid slows bacterial growth and the sugar provides nutrients. Change the solution every three days to help prolong the blooming time. If you need to transport the blooms, try to keep the stems immersed in a small amount of water during the trip. Otherwise, wrap the stems in damp papertowels and wrap with plastic wrap. Then cut them under water and place them in the bleach/sugar/water solution as soon as you get to your destination.

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