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No flower is more iconic or more easily recognized than the rose. This bloom’s classic beauty makes it a popular choice with beginner flower gardeners and professional landscapers alike. Delicate, sophisticated, and fragrant, roses are relatively easy to care for and attract a variety of wildlife to any garden, including hummingbirds and butterflies. But are roses good for anything else? If you’re new to growing roses, you may be wondering what to do with rose petals.
Rose petals are edible and can be used in salads, baked goods, and teas. Dried rose petals retain enough of the flower’s perfume to be included in homemade potpourris. You can also use rose petals from your garden in holistic home remedies and DIY skincare products.
What to do with rose petals: a few tips before you start
Before you start exploring all of the possibilities of what to do with rose petals, you’ll need to prepare them. Whether you collect roses from your own garden or purchase a bouquet from the local florist doesn’t matter much (although homegrown is best). To start, gently pull the rose petals from the flower careful not to tear them. Throw away any wilted, wrinkled petals or petals that have holes in them.
Toss the rose petals into a sieve and rinse them in cold water — never hot water, because heat causes the petals to lose some of their essential oils. You may need to gently scrub the petals to remove dirt and debris. When they’re clean, arrange them in a single layer on some paper towels or a thin tea towel and gently pat the excess water away, then allow them to air dry.
Some DIY rose petal recipes and activities require rose petals to be dried. For this, simply spread the rose petals on a baking sheet and place them in the oven at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 30 minutes. Check on them regularly to prevent them from burning. When they’re dry, they’ll look dehydrated and feel crisp to the touch.
10 Ways to use rose petals
Now that you know how to prep your rose petals, you’re ready to get started! Here are some of our favorite ways to use rose petals (Note: you’ll find most recipes and activities here require more rose petals than you might think. If you have rose petals leftover, don’t throw them out. Just dry them in the oven and place them in a freezer bag in the freezer.).
Rose petal water
If you’re wondering what to do with rose petals you’ve collected from your garden, making rose petal water is the best place to start. Rose petal water can be used as an astringent to soothe dry, irritated skin and rosacea, or as a hair rinse to reduce greasiness and rebalance the pH of your scalp.
To make rose petal water, toss 1 cup of fresh, crisp rose petals (roughly 2 to 4 roses) into a medium-sized saucepan and add around 2 cups of distilled water. Be careful not to use too much water, but add enough so that the petals are covered. Then sprinkle in 2 teaspoons of vodka, which will kill any bacteria and help preserve the rose petals’ medicinal properties.
Cover the saucepan with a lid and let the concoction simmer (not boil!) for 20 minutes, checking it periodically. Once the petals become pale and wilted, it’s time to strain them. Store your rose petal water in a glass container, like a bell jar or carafe, and keep it in the fridge. Your homemade rose petal water should be used within two weeks.
Rose petal oil
Rose petal oil is the next stepping stone once you’ve mastered rose petal water. Rose petal oil is a top-tier homemade skincare product you won’t want to be without once you’ve used it. This oil has impressive antioxidant activity that helps brighten and plump the skin to reduce the appearance of dark spots, fine lines, and scars.
Fill a jar ¾ full with fresh rose petals, then fill the jar to the top with a carrier oil, like coconut, jojoba, or sweet almond. Cap the jar tightly and give the mixture a good shake. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 weeks, and remember to shake it every few days.
Once your oil is ready, strain the petals and store the oil in a glass jar in a cool, dark place. Your rose petal oil will be good for months, but it can go rancid in humid conditions. For best results, if you live in a warmer region, we recommend keeping your rose petal oil in the refrigerator.
Rose petal honey
Because bees collect nectar from many different flowers, it’s almost impossible to find monofloral honey, making finding honey with a distinctive rose flavor difficult. But, by making rose petal honey, you can ensure you get the delicious taste of rose in every spoonful of honey.
Rose petal honey is made much the same way rose petal oil is made. Fill a glass jar with fresh, washed rose petals, and cover them with raw honey. Stir the mixture to remove any air bubbles, then close the jar and allow it to infuse in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks.
Once it’s done, you can strain your honey to remove the rose petals. Rose petal honey tastes delicious over vanilla ice cream and croissants. You can also save the honey-coated rose petals to eat over biscuits, scones, or Greek yogurt. Rose honey is also an excellent home remedy for sore throats and allergy symptoms.
Vanilla rose petal tea
If you want to know what to do with rose petals, we have another great suggestion for you: make your own vanilla rose petal tea. Rose petals have such a subtle yet distinctive flavor, they’re just perfect for teas, and they pair deliciously with vanilla beans.
Add 2 tablespoons of rose petals (dried or fresh) and the seeds from 1 vanilla bean to a tea ball or reusable tea bag, and place it in a mug. Then, heat about 1 ½ cups of water in a saucepan. You want the water to be hot, but not boiling, as that can alter the flavors in the tea, so just bring it to the start of a simmer. When the water’s hot enough, pour it over the tea, let it steep for 5 minutes, then enjoy!
Rose petals are delicate, so you may find that your vanilla rose petal tea is a bit weak compared to other teas. If you want to boost the flavors, try adding a teaspoon of black tea to your blend. Extracts of mint or orange also pair well with this tea, and you can try adding cinnamon or ginger to influence the flavor, too.
Rose petal bath salts
Rose petals make luxurious bath salts that are perfect for at-home spa days and party gifts. Simply add a handful of dried rose petals to a cup of Epsom salt and ⅓ of a cup of sea salt or Himalayan salt. Rose petals are loaded with skin-soothing vitamins A, C, and E, and the salts are full of magnesium to help relax tense muscles.
Rose petal bath bombs
Bath bombs are a bit more involved than bath salts, but they’re not too difficult to make. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup of baking soda with ½ cup corn starch, ¾ cup of citric acid, and 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts. Next, work ½ cup of coconut oil into the mixture until it gets crumbly but moldable. Finally, mix in a large handful of dried rose petals. At this point, you can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Lavender, lemon, bergamot, and anise all pair well with rose.
Once the mixture’s ready, shape it into a bath bomb mold to cure. If you haven’t got a bath bomb mold, place the mixture in a muffin tin, instead. Allow the bath bombs to sit for 24 hours, and then they’ll be ready to use.
Pressed flower art
If you’re looking for something to do with rose petals that’s fun for kids, try pressed flower art. This activity does require planning because the flowers must be pressed before you use them. But it’s a great way to get creative by making some nature-inspired decor.
The best way to press rose petals is by lining the pages of a heavy book with parchment paper and placing the petals between them for a few weeks. However, you can place them between parchment paper and press them with an iron instead, if you want to speed things up.
Once your pressed rose petals are ready, you can arrange them on a canvas or thick cardstock and use Mod Podge to make them stick. Dried rose petals and other flowers can also be Mod Podged onto smooth rocks to make paperweights or decorative accessories to indoor potted plants.
Rose petal vinegar
If you want to know what to do with rose petals in the kitchen, you can’t go wrong by tossing them into a fresh spring salad. Rose petals have a soft, velvety texture and a subtle floral flavor that accents salads well. Dressing your salad with a homemade rose petal vinaigrette improves the dish all the more.
To make rose petal vinegar, pack a glass jar with 2 cups of the most fragrant rose petals you can find. Then add 1 ½ cups of white wine vinegar. Close the cap on the jar and allow it to sit in a cool, dark place for a week or so to infuse.
You can make a simple vinaigrette by mixing 2 tablespoons of rose petal vinegar with 3 tablespoons of olive oil (light or extra light works best). Season with salt and pepper to taste. This salad dressing pairs well with salads that have berries and feta or other goat cheeses.
Rose petal potpourri
Rose petals are well-suited to homemade potpourris, and they couldn’t be easier to make. To make homemade potpourris, it’s best to air dry your rose petals, not dehydrate them in the oven. Air drying is a much slower process, allowing the rose petals to retain as much of their essence as possible.
To air dry your rose petals, arrange them in a single layer on a mesh screen (a baking sheet will work fine if that’s all you have), then set them in indirect sunlight and allow them to dry over a week’s time. This is also how you should dry the other flower petals that you want to include in your potpourri.
Finally, toss the petals together and add a few drops of essential oils. Mix your rose petals with lavender, chamomile, mint, marigolds, and orange peel. Display your potpourris in glass jars or vases. Keeping the potpourri near a window sill allows the sun’s rays to heat it, releasing the oils.
Rose petal and pistachio chocolate bark
For a tasty after-dinner snack, melt 9 ounces of chocolate (dark chocolate works best) over low heat, then stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped rose petals and ⅓ cup of pistachios. Once it’s blended, pour it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow it to solidify in the fridge.
Rose petals add a floral, slightly fruity quality to chocolate bark, which you can also make with white chocolate. Walnuts and pecans can be used in place of pistachios if you’d rather. You can also add bits of orange peel or dried mint leaves to change the flavor of your chocolate bark.
Using homegrown rose petals
Rose petals can be used for so many DIY crafts, and their subtle floral taste makes them delicious in teas and desserts. To get the most out of the rose bushes in your garden, harvest roses shortly after they’ve bloomed. This will not only allow you to get the freshest roses possible, but it will also encourage your rose bushes to produce more blooms. That means more flowers in your garden and more rose petals to bake and craft with.