Flower Care Flower Information

How to Feed Cut Flowers and Extend the Life of Your Bouquet

Cut Flower Food

Photo credit: @arianalauren

Here at The Bouqs Co., we’re what you’d called DIY junkies. And that extends to whipping up some homemade cut flower food on the fly. I mean, why would you want to make a trip out of the house and spend your hard-earned cash when you could do it all from the comfort of your home?

Because there’s a dirty little secret about those packets of flower preservative that come with your Valentine’s Day roses: most contain a simple powdered mix of sugar, citric acid, and household bleach.

We’d bet you probably have those three ingredients lying around your house in one form or another. Luckily, they’ll go a long way in keeping your flowers healthy, happy, and beautiful. So if you’ve received a fresh Bouq and don’t have cut flower food on hand, or have used it all up on your fresh flower habit, it’s time to get your hands dirty and quickly make some without leaving your kitchen.

You may be thinking that fresh cut flowers are, by nature, a temporary luxury, so why feed something that you know will die? But without some kind of flower preservative, your Bouq could quickly become a whole lot more wilted and less attractive than it was in its prime – and no one likes droopy flowers! That’s why we’re here to help you help your Bouq stick around a little longer.


Why Sugar, Citric Acid, and Household Bleach?

Although some other ingredients can help your flowers stay in tip-top shape for as long as possible, these three items are the tried-and-true choices for people in the know — a.k.a. flower delivery companies like yours truly.

Without diving too deep into the science, let’s just say that the sugar acts as the main source of nutrients for your flowers (besides the water, of course!). Remember, those pretty little blooms are hanging out in a vase, not the cozy soil they’re accustomed to, so artificial food is a huuuge must.

The second ingredient, citric acid — which can be found in lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits — adds acidity to your vase. Why is that important? Well, flowers bathing in low pH levels — meaning high acidity (middle school chemistry lessons slowly coming back to you?) — stay perked-up and colorful for a lot longer. And that’s exactly what you’re going for! At least, we hope it is…

And as for the bleach, it’ll ward off all that pesky bacteria and mold that try to make themselves at home in your vase. Which is a very good thing, because once you add sugar to the water, those tiny little flower killers wander out of the woodwork. (Or should we say waterwork?… Anyway, you see our point.)

But before we jump into the best recipes for homemade cut flower food, it’s a good idea to let you take a second to brush up on proper flower care 101. Don’t worry. We’ll wait…

You’re back? Great! Moving on.

The Top DIY Cut Flower Food Recipes

So now you know the four key constituents that make flowers last longest: water, sugar, acid, and bleach. As you can probably guess, the following recipes all amount to some combination of these common household items.

Citrus Soda and Water Recipe

If you’re the type of person who’s crushed beneath work or too busy taking care of a family to be brewing up potions like the three witch sisters in the Disney classic Hocus Pocus, then this ultra-fast and easy fix is for you.

All you need to do is mix a half-and-half solution of water and regular citrus soda — think 7-Up or Sprite — in a squeaky clean vase. The citrus juice in the soda will help maintain low pH levels while the sugar will provide your flowers with all the delicious sustenance they need.

Just make sure to change your vase’s water-soda mixture every other day, because there’s not quite enough acid in the lemon-lime beverage to keep all the harmful bacteria at bay.

Lemon Juice, Sugar, and Bleach Recipe

This one isn’t quite as quick and simple, but it should only take you a few extra minutes to bundle together — assuming you have a lemon or pre-squeezed lemon juice on hand. Just pour two tablespoons of lemon juice in your vase, then a tablespoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of household bleach for each quart of water.

The benefit of this recipe is that you only need to change the water and mixture once every three days, thanks to the unmatched bacteria-killing properties of household bleach.

Sugar and Vinegar

Another super simple concoction, this one only requires you to mix two tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar with two tablespoons of sugar for every quart of water in your vase. But as with the first recipe, you’ll want to change the water every other day.


There you have it: Three easy, stress-free, and quick flower preservative mixtures that will keep your freshly arrived Bouq looking downright gorgeous for as long as humanly (or flowerly) possible.

They’ll most definitely thank you for it!

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