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Sarah Cohen: Now I’m going to show you how to make cut roses last longer. It’s all in the preparation. So here I have some roses, just fresh from the bodega. And when you take them out of the package, they may have a lot of foliage on the stem. I’m lucky here because this rose doesn’t have very many thorns, but you may encounter some thorns along the way, so just be careful when you grab the flower out of the package that you haven’t hit anything sharp or spiky, and try and hold it somewhere where you know your fingers are going to be safe.
Now you can use a very sharp clippers, or a very sharp knife. And in this case it might be easiest to use the clippers. Just remove all of the foliage that’s going to fall below the waterline. If you do find any thorns or any prickly leaves along the way, you can actually take, and this is a really fun insider tip, the back of the knife, the part that’s not sharp, even if you’re not going to be using the knife to cut the flower, and just shimmy the knife along the stem and it can remove anything tiny and prickly. Just rub it back and forth.
Now you have all the foliage removed from the bottom of the stem. Anything that’s going to fall below the waterline. That’s going to help keep the rose fresh because any greens or foliage that are draping in the water or sticking in the water are going to be another place where bacteria and fungus can attack that flower.
Now, keeping a rose fresh is all about the cut. You want to increase the surface area on the stem so as much water can travel up to the bloom as possible. Now, if you feel really savvy and want to use a knife, make sure that the knife is incredibly sharp and be very, very careful. You want to make a 45-degree angle cut, and remember that your hand should be acting like a clamp. Your hand doesn’t move. The knife moves and your arm moves and you want to make one sweeping motion.
Take the flower, hold it away from your body, get a firm grip and pull to make the 45-degree angle cut. And you can see at this angle there is a great amount of surface area. And within about 90 seconds you want to make sure that you have cut the flower and placed it in the water where you’ll be using it, so that it can start to drink immediately. As the flower is exposed to air, as the stem is exposed to air, the pores start to sort of seal up and close. So you want to make sure that water gets in there as quickly as possible.
Another way to keep roses fresh for floral arrangements, it sounds a little strange, but you can add a few drops of bleach into the fresh, cool water that you’re using. The bleach eats away at that fungus and bacteria that is the thing that really starts to kill the flowers and make the stems slimy, so a couple of drops of bleach will really go a long way.
And in general, as the flowers starts to open and bloom, you’re going to want to change the water about every other day to keep it really fresh. Nice cold water for roses, and that is how you keep roses fresh and lasting long in floral arrangements.