Cut flowers from the garden or the florist are beautiful only as long as they stay fresh. They could stay fresh and attractive much longer than usually do if given the proper kind of treatment.

The single most important thing with rose is the use of a floral preservative, according to SAF (Society of American Florists) Quality Control Commitee, which has made a study of the latest technical data in the care and handing of fresh flowers.

Flower preservatives recommended by specialists include Floralife, Bloomlife and Burpee's Everbloom. They can be purchased at garden centers.

Research has found that vase life is not lost by letting the flower mature longer on the plant. The recommendation used to be to cut the blooms when they start to show color. In fact, the flowers may last longer and there is more chance of a rose opening without bent neck (flower hanging down) if allowed to mature further. Taking extremely tight buds is not a good idea.

Roses should be stored by florists at 33 degree to 35 degrees F and high (95 per cent) relative humidity. If stored out of water, the temperature should be 31 degrees F and the humidity 95 per cent.

Recutting stems every time they are handled helps make roses last longer. Recutting under water may help the stem end avoid drawing in air rather than water.

There is no advantage to keeping roses in deep water rather than just enough to cover the cut surface, according to the committee.

Roses that are in a dry or wilted state can sometimes be revived by cutting the stems under water, putting them in a warm (100 degrees) preservative solution for about an hour and then keeping them in a refrigerator at 33 degrees to 35 degrees F for six to 12 hours.

Within reason, the purer the water, the longer roses last.

Researchers at Michigan State University found two soft drinks, Sprite and 7-Up, effective flower preservatives for roses and most other garden flowers. They recommend mixing one part water with each part soft drink and adding half a teaspoon of chloride bleach to each quart of the solution. The bleach reduced bacteria.