Everything You Should Know About Flower Food and How To Make Your Own: Part 1

Everything You Should Know About Flower Food and How To Make Your Own: Part 1

When you receive a bouquet of flowers or visit your local florist, you are likely to see small packets of white powder.  As you are probably aware, this is “flower food” or “floral preservative,” and it is key to keeping your flowers healthy and beautiful looking for the longest time possible.  Its benefits include stimulating the opening of closed buds and preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi.*

Here's why it works and how to make your own at home to prolong the life of your cut flowers:

How Flower Food Works

Generally, sugar, citric acid, and bleach are the only three ingredients in floral food. It is designed to nourish and hydrate flowers while preventing the growth of bacteria and works for almost all varieties of flowers. Some mixtures also contain ingredients known as “stem unpluggers,” which help to drain the buildup of bacteria to allow stems to better soak up water.

Here's how these ingredients work:

  • Sugar is a vitamin for the flowers’ stems, giving them the nutrients needed for strength and longevity. However, sugar also invites the growth of bad bacteria.
  • Citric acid lowers the pH of the water in the vase, which makes it more acidic and improves the flowers’ intake of water.
  • Bleach guards the flowers from these bacteria, and helps to keep the vase’s water clear and pleasant smelling. 

How To Make Your Own Flower Food

You can purchase powdered food for cut flowers, but it’s easy to make a liquid substitute. Mix up one of these easy recipes soon before you use it – you’ll get the best results making it as needed instead of mixing it up in advance.

Follow the measurements closely and do not mix more than one batch of flower food at a time. Altering the measurements could result in a vapor that could irritate the eyes and sinuses. Dispose of any unused flower food by pouring it down the drain.

Recipe #1:

Mix together 1 part regular (not diet) lemon-lime soda with 3 parts lukewarm water. This mixture should account for all of the water in your vase. You won’t get the antibacterial benefits that bleach provides, but the soda provides sugar and citric acid.

Recipe #2:

Mix 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, and ¼-teaspoon bleach. Add to 1 quart lukewarm water and add flowers.

Recipe #3:

Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar and add to 1 quart lukewarm water. The vinegar serves as the acid and helps prevent bacterial growth.*

* It should be noted that there are a few flowers that actually do NOT like flower food in the vase. Some of these are: zinnias, sunflowers, and gladiolas. For these flowers, use one of the “Other DIY Flower Food Recipes” that will follow in Part 2. 


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