How Often Should You Water Roses in a Vase?

Fresh roses make great gifts and decor and are a lovely addition to your space. What isn’t pleasant is when these flowers start to wilt and dry out. Watering and caring for your fresh-cut roses can help them last longer, but how often should you water them? 

You should water roses in a vase every two to three days. To ensure longevity, change the water when watering. Frequent water changes prevent bacterial infections that prevent the stems from taking up water, leading to dehydration and wilting. Debris in the water can also lead to rot in the stems. 

Watering your roses the right way will help extend their vase life. The first step is to prevent bacterial infection, but there are several things you can do to keep the flowers fresh. Read on to learn how to keep your flowers fresh in a vase and how to save wilted roses.

6 Tips To Water Roses in a Vase the Right Way

When watering your roses, a few simple tips can prolong the life of the roses, so they stay fresh for as long as ten days and even up to two weeks. 

Use the Right Kind of Water

Tap water usually contains calcium and magnesium salts, which restrict water intake. However, softened water may be just as bad if your softener uses sodium chloride. Therefore, you should use collected rainwater or treat your tap water. 

To learn more about how to make tap water like rainwater, read my other article: How to Make Tap Water More Like Rain Water

Add a Bacterial Control

Preventing bacterial growth is vital to ensuring the longevity of your cut roses. You can add commercially available bacterial suppressants or a weak solution of green tea. 

The tea will inhibit bacterial growth and supplement the nutritional requirements of your roses. 

Learn more about the benefits of watering your plants with green tea in my other article: Is it Good to Water Plants With Green Tea?

Adjust the pH Value

Roses prefer soil with a pH value between 6 and 6.5 (slightly acidic) for optimum growth. A great way to increase the vase life of your cut roses is to add citric acid to the ratio of 125 parts per million (ppm), which is approximately less than 1/16 of a teaspoon (125 mg) of citric acid to 0.26 gallons (1 liter) of water. 

Mix in Some Sugar

Sugar is predominantly composed of sucrose, which helps supplement the nutritional requirements of the flowers. However, sugars can also encourage bacterial growth, so add very little, just enough, to support the roses for a day or two. 

Use Cold Water

Roses tend to prefer cooler temperatures in general. While most cut flowers do well with lukewarm water, try using cool water for your roses. You can add a few ice cubes to keep the water at 45°F (7°C). 

Change the Water Regularly

Frequent water changes are the easiest and most reliable way to inhibit bacterial growth. Even with antibacterials in the water, dust and insects may fall in, leading to rot. Therefore, water should be changed daily, but if you can’t do so, you can go up to three days without changing it. 

How Much Water Do Roses in a Vase Need?

The amount of water required will naturally depend on the size of your vase and the length of the stems. Also, since you’ll be changing the water out often, you don’t need to fill the vase all the way. 

Generally, roses need about three-fourths or two-thirds of the vase full of water. You can change the quantity after the first couple of days if you observe the amount of water consumed by your cut flowers. 

Ensure you have enough water to mix in additions like citric acid, green tea, or other supplements like sugar and your bacterial suppressant. 

Things To Do To Keep Roses Fresh in a Vase

Apart from using the right water and additions, you can do a few more things to ensure that your roses stay fresh. 

  • Get good quality roses. Today, roses are specifically bred for their vase life, so if you’re purchasing fresh-cut roses to put in a vase, get a long-lasting variety. The Rosa Calibra is known for lasting a long time when placed in a vase. 
  • Refrigerate the blooms before you place them in a vase. Putting your roses in the fridge conditions them so the plant tissue is bolstered and can last longer outside. You should refrigerate your roses for a few hours but never leave them overnight. 
  • Trim away excess foliage. Removing excess leaves, especially from the part of the stem in the water, reduces the surface area susceptible to bacterial infection. It also ensures that all water and nutrition taken up by the stems is available to the blooms. 
  • Use a clean vase. A clean vase will prevent bacterial infections in your freshly cut roses, extending the flowers’ life. 
  • Cut the stem to the right length. Roses do well when the stems are cut relatively short. Start by cutting the stems to about 12-15 inches (30-38 cm), and trim the stems down to about 10 inches (25 cm) over time. The shorter length ensures quick water intake for the blooms, and trimming prevents bacteria. Trim your stems every time you change the water. 
  • Always cut the stems in water. When you cut the stems, the fresh surface tries to immediately uptake whatever it is in contact with. If the stem is in contact with air, it will uptake air leading to air bubbles and decreasing the flower’s longevity. 
  • Cut the stems at an angle. Cutting your rose stems at an angle ensures that the bottom isn’t in contact with the bottom of your vase, leading to accidental stifling. 
  • Use clean equipment. Your cutting shears or scissors should be sanitized between cuts, as this will protect your rose stems from bacteria and other irritants. 

Saving Wilted Roses Kept in a Vase

If you notice your roses are wilting, it isn’t too late to save them. If you catch the wilting in time and act quickly, you can save your roses and enjoy the blooms for a while longer. However, remember that if the petals have fallen off, you’re probably too late. 

To save your wilting roses, here’s what you need to do:  

  1. Trim the stems at an angle underwater. The first thing you need to do is improve the ability of your rose stems to take up water. A freshly cut surface can help, so cut the stems with clean shears. 
  2. Replace the water with lukewarm water. Regardless of when you changed the water, wilting flowers indicate that the roses are dehydrated. While roses prefer cold water, wilting roses will benefit from warm water as it is easier to take up into plant tissue than cold water. Avoid tap water unless it has been treated in some way to make it more palatable. 
  3. Ensure the water is at the correct pH. Freshly cut flowers do well with an extremely low pH value between 3.5-5, and roses are happiest on the lower end of that spectrum. Citric acid or a little vinegar can help correct the pH value of the water and act as a preservative. 
  4. Dissolve a tablespoon (15 grams) of sugar in the water. Sugar is a quick source of nutrients for your wilting roses and will perk them up. 
  5. Keep an eye on your flowers. Once you’ve trimmed the stems and changed the water, wait and see if your flowers are perking up. The roses may take up to 24 hours to revive. If they haven’t improved, you may need to repeat the steps and trim further up. 

Final Thoughts

Water roses in a vase at least every two days or every day to prevent bacterial infection. Change the water out entirely if you can, as this will increase the longevity of your cut flowers. 

Using the right water at the right temperature, cutting the stems at an angle underwater, and maintaining a low pH value is important. You can also make your roses last longer by adding a bacterial suppressant and sugar to the water.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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