How to Revive Droopy-Headed Roses

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You can revive droopy-headed roses.
Image Credit: Yelena Shander/iStock/GettyImages

A wilting rose (Rosaceae) bloom, whether still on the bush or in a vase, almost certainly needs water. It may also lack critical nutrients or be experiencing transplant shock if it's a bush. Of course, if you have roses in a vase and have had them awhile, they're probably reaching their end, and there won't be much you can do.

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Rosebushes With Droopy Blooms

A rosebush with wilted blooms is a sad sight, given the potential of a rose to elevate your garden into something splendid. Wilted blooms, or wilting stems, on a rosebush are usually due to lack of water, transplant shock or a lack of important nutrients. Another major cause might be root rot, caused by overwatering or poor soil drainage. But a lack of water is the most likely culprit. Roses need a lot of water, critical for transporting nutrients from the soil to the stems and flowers.

To identify the problem, start by feeling the soil with your finger. If the soil is completely dry, your rose needs water. The rule of thumb for roses is 2 inches a week, although this varies widely depending on your soil, the age of the rose, the rose cultivar and your location. A sandier soil will require more water, while clay soil requires less.

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Too much water can also be a problem. If the rose blooms are drooping and the leaves are also yellowing, it's likely that the rosebush is waterlogged. Cease watering for a couple of weeks, then check the soil again.

Wilted blooms and stems are also common after transplanting if you've moved your rose during an active growth stage instead of while dormant. After transplanting, a rose — in fact, any plant — is struggling to build new roots in its new location. Without a fully functional root system, the bush cannot move water or nutrients up from the soil. Try to transplant when the rose is dormant, retain as much of the root ball as you can and reduce the size of the bush by pruning the canes back at least 10 to 12 inches.

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Cut Roses With Droopy Blooms

That vase of gorgeous roses that looked great just yesterday now has a weeping form: What to do?

First, the best fix for droopy-headed roses is prevention. Give them a fresh cut at the bottom of the stem before placing them in the vase. Add plant food to the water to provide the blooms with the sugars to feed the flowers and to inhibit the growth of microbes. Check the water daily and add more if the level drops too low. Replace the water completely if it becomes cloudy.

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Perhaps you did all that, and you still get droopy blooms. One common cause is the development of an air bubble inside the stem just below the flower. Air in the stem weakens it, and when the air bubble sits just under the flower, the stem can't support its weight. Once your flower has drooped, water can't easily pass through the bent stem. You can fix this if you catch it early: Remove the rose from the vase, give it another nice, clean cut at the bottom of the stem and submerge it in shallow warm water — about 110 degrees Fahrenheit — for five to 10 minutes. The stem should straighten out, then begin to stiffen as it hydrates. Remove the rose, shake it upside down and then place it back in the vase with fresh, warm water.

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