How to Cut and Display Roses

roses in a vase

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

There's no flower more suitable for cutting than the rose. Strong, sturdy stems, buds that open slowly and elegantly, and an unforgettable fragrance make roses a favorite to grow in a cutting garden. Once you bring them indoors, there are numerous ways to display and enjoy them. Handle them correctly and they will last well over a week.

Hybrid teas especially lend themselves to cutting. Hybrid tea roses generally produce one perfect blossom at the end of each stem. Virtually all hybrid tea roses are repeat bloomers throughout the growing season. Each blossom may have over 60 petals and be as large as 5 inches across. You won't need many to make an impressive display.

When to Cut Roses

The best time to cut roses is after around three in the afternoon when they are highest in food reserves. This will give them the strength they need to last a long time as cut flowers.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Pruning shears
  • Small bucket
  • Vase


  • Flower preservative or household alternative


  1. Choose Your Roses

    Choose rosebuds that have visibly begun to open, but that are no more than 1/3 to 1/2 fully open. Tightly closed buds may never open and flowers in full bloom won't last very long. The best cut roses will have just begun to unfurl. It won't take them long to finish the job indoors.

  2. Use the Proper Tools

    Always use clean, sharp pruners to prevent damaging the rose canes and spreading disease. This won't affect your cut flowers, but you don't want to harm the plant in the process of cutting.

  3. Pay Attention to the Leaves

    Leave at least 3 leaves on the stem, to feed the plant. It's a less severe shock to the rose bush if you don't remove the entire stem. This is more important on hybrid tea roses and less of a problem with cluster roses and multi-stemmed roses.

  4. Remove Leaves Below the Water Line

    Once cut, remove all leaves that will be below the water line. They will just rot, turn the water foul, and possibly rot the stems along with them.

  5. Get the Cut Roses Into Water

    Get your roses into the water as soon as possible. Bring a bucket of water with you when you cut. If you cut the roses outside without water, re-cut the stems indoors either under running water or while immersed in a bucket of water. 

  6. Prepare the Vase

    Use either a floral preservative, add a splash of a lemon/lime soda, or even drop a squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon of sugar to the water in the vase. Or try a few drops of bleach. You basically want to give the roses a little food and prevent fungal problems.


    If you cut a lot of flower arrangements, you can buy floral preservative less expensively, in bulk.

  7. Keep the Flowers Cool at First

    Let your cut roses have a few hours in a cool spot out of direct sunshine before you display them. This lets them adjust slowly and extends their vase life.

  8. Change the Water Often

    Change the water whenever it starts to get murky. This is easy to remember if you use a clear vase. If your roses are in an opaque container, remember to check the water level daily.

  9. Revive Wilting Roses

    If your roses seem to be wilting, it could mean water is unable to flow through the stem. Re-cut the stem bottoms and submerge them in very warm, (not so hot you can’t touch it) water and let them sit for about an hour before replacing them in the vase. This should open their vascular system and let the water rise through the stem.

tools for cutting and displaying roses

The Spruce / Autumn Wood