If you’ve ever purchased flowers—be it from the grocery store or yours truly, there’s a good chance you received a little mystery packet of flower food to go along with it.
But, what’s actually in that thing? Is it safe? Below, we’ll take a look at the contents of the elusive flower food packet, as well as how you can DIY your own plant food for cut flowers.
What’s in Flower Preservatives?
Let’s cut to the chase. Those little flower food packets contain just three ingredients: citric acid, sugar, and here’s the kicker—bleach.
Plants produce sugar on their own while still attached to their root system, during photosynthesis. But, when you cut them, they lose their direct line toward nourishment. Flowers are often cut before they are fully developed, so feeding them, post-separation, can enhance their development, so you get the most out of your blooms.
Now, back to the ingredients, here’s a breakdown of what each component does to ensure your flowers stay vibrant and upright for the long haul.
- Citric Acid: Citric acid (lemon juice) works to reduce the water’s pH level. The lower pH allows the water to travel through the stem quickly, preventing wilting.
- Sugar: Sugar might be bad for humans, but for flowers, it’s what keeps them in full bloom. Sugar functions as the flower food here, and adding it to the water makes it easy for cut stems to slurp up the nutrients like a big, organic straw.
- Bleach: Feeding flowers with sucrose nourishes them and encourages life—even when the flowers are cut. So, with that nourishment, comes bacteria, which also feeds on the sugar water. Bleach kills off the unwanted microflora, preventing your Bouq from taking on a nasty odor. The bacteria can also clog up the stem, keeping the sugar water from getting where it needs to go.
Recipes—Cut Flower Food
Want to make homemade plant food? Chances are you probably have the ingredients above hanging around in your kitchen cabinets. Here’s a quick and nifty guide for getting the ratios right:
The contents: Your basic recipe is composed of one quart of fresh water (filtered is best, but not a deal breaker), plus one tablespoon of sugar, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and a half of a tablespoon of bleach. Easy, peasy.
Trim the stems. This opens them up to take in more water—and you absolutely want to maximize the amount of water your stems can take in. Give these a trim every three days or so for best results.
Alternatively, Just Cleaning the Vase Might Goes a Long Way
If for whatever reason, you lost your flower food packet (they get thrown away; it happens) or don’t want to use it, that’s cool, too.
The work here lies in maintaining a clean environment for your flowers. Before transferring cut flowers to a vase, make sure you sanitize your vase with bleach before adding water and flowers. Trim the stems to maximize drinking potential.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep your Bouq in a cool, shaded area, rather than direct sunlight. Warm water will help open up closed buds, but if your flowers are where you want them, make sure to keep things cool. Otherwise, you may well be pushing them to an earlier grave.
Start Fresh—Check Out Bouqs’ Latest Picks
If your flowers are looking a little droopy or malnourished, maybe it’s time for a new bouquet. Sign up for a Bouqs subscription to keep the fresh-cut goodness coming on a regular basis—be it once a week or once a month.
And hey, it’ll give you a chance to try making DIY flower food. You’ll definitely see a difference if you’ve long been sticking cut flowers into a vase with wild abandon.Shop All