Food for cut flowers

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Looking for ways to keep your bouquets fresh for weeks after your flowers arrive? Try these DIY Cut Flower Food Recipes & Tips I put together. Want more flower ideas? Try my Floral page for how to oven-dry flowers, seasonal wreaths and more!

I love getting flowers! The bouquet shown above are my Valentines Day flowers from my husband! They are 10 days old and going strong. How did I make them last so long? Well, before I went to floral design school I would of just let them die and toss them out. Who knew you could make them last for a few weeks using flower food! Here are some tips I learned to keep flowers fresh for weeks after they arrive.

The bouquet above is from Publix. The flowers my husband bought online and had delivered were a disaster, so we got our money back and headed to the grocery store.

This bouquet was a quarter of the price of the other one we ordered and it lasted seven days longer than the traditional flower shop bouquet. Poor guy has a floral designer as a wife, who is picky about her flowers, he can’t win, lol.

  • If you receive your bouquet in a box from a mail order company, keep the box cool until you can prepare the flowers. I really like the flowers that come in a bunch that you can arrange yourself. When I buy the flowers this way they are in much better shape than store bought and last a bit longer as well.
  • One of the first things you do when you get a bouquet home is to remove the rubber bands and trim the stems. Remove lower leaves and any dead leaves from the bottom of the stems. Any leaves sitting in the water line of your vase will cause mold/fungi to grow and infect the water and your flowers.

  • Lay a flower on a cutting board, with a sharp knife, cut the stems 1-2 inches from the end of the stems at a slant, place the flower in water immediately. This opens the stem to receive the flower food and water.
  • After a flower has been out of water for some time the stem seals shut, trimming the stem again will open it up again. Repeat with all your flowers. It is best to do the trimming with a sharp knife instead of scissors. Scissors will crush the bottom of the stem.

Tip: Even if my flowers arrive in a vase of water, I still take them out re-cut the stems and remove the water line and lower leaves.

Store bought bouquets usually come with a flower food packet attached to them. If you did not get one, here are some easy recipes to make your own.

My favorite way and the one I used this Valentine’s Day is #1.

DIY Cut Flower Food Recipes & Tips

Add one of these remedies in with the flower water.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar & Sugar~ Add a teaspoon of Apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of regular sugar to the water. The vinegar kills the bacteria and fungi so your flowers will thrive.
  • Lemon Juice & Bleach~ A teaspoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of sugar and 3 drops of bleach is another solution to keep flowers healthy. Or 1/4 teaspoon of bleach alone per 1 liter of water. Bleach may sound extreme but it kills bacteria and fungi as well.
  • Lemon Lime Soda~ One part Lemon-Lime Soda {Do not use Diet or other flavored sodas} to 3 parts water. The soda has the acid and sugar the flowers need to survive.

Change the water and flower food solution every 3-4 days or if the water starts looking cloudy. Throw out any dead or shedding flowers. Re-cut stems and add more of the food solution. If your fresh flowers came in floral foam make sure you keep the foam soaked with water and flower food.

Keep the flowers in a cool area, around 72 degrees. Keep away from heat sources and direct sunlight. Keep in mind most florists keep flowers refrigerated until they are delivered. Flowers last longer under cooler conditions.

I hope this post will help you extend the life of your next bouquet!

Flower Food Recipes: What’s The Best Flower Food For Cut Flowers

Few things are as delightful as receiving a bouquet of cut flowers. These lovely displays last for days or longer, bringing color and perfume to the home interior as well as providing a remembrance of special occasions. Often, the bouquets come with flower food for cut flowers, but in the event you run out, you can make your own formula to extend the life of the blooms. Flower food recipes start with common household items and preserve the flowers sometimes for weeks.

Feeding Fresh Cut Flowers

One of the more common ways to extend the life of cut flowers is with an aspirin. While these tablets may keep the doctor away, there is little evidence they will keep your flowers fresh for any length of time. Flowers that have been cut still need water and some form of carbohydrate to fuel continued beauty. The flower food for cut flowers that comes with the bouquet will be comprised of sugars and nutrients that are designed to keep blooms healthy and fresh. You can also make up a mixture yourself that can enhance cut flower life.

Preservatives for cut flowers will come with the bouquet, but what about us do-it-yourself florists? The first steps to continued health in cut blooms are to start with a sterilized container and cut the ends of the plants properly.

Clean cuts promote the uptake of water and nutrients essential to preserve the life of the flowers. Cut the ends under water at an angle and remove basal leaves.

Sterilized containers ensure that old mold, disease and other contagions don’t become part of the bouquet’s meals. These first steps aren’t a substitute for feeding fresh cut flowers, but they go a long way to helping continue the health of the plants. It is also important to use newly harvested blooms which will retain their beauty longer. Changing the water often to a slightly warm solution also enhances bloom retention.

Best Flower Food for Cut Flowers

The best flower food for cut flowers will depend upon the variety, age and site conditions. Bouquets thrive in cooler temperatures, which is why florists place them in coolers prior to sale. Hot temperatures make it hard to keep moisture flowing into the stem and can cause wilting which stresses the cut blooms.

Many enthusiasts crow about the benefits of using vitamins, pennies, soda, lemon juice and even bleach. One of the more common flower food recipes includes:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of bleach

These ingredients are then added to 1 quart warm water.

A similar mixture with apple cider vinegar also seems to enhance cut flowers. If you want to waste some good vodka, it seems to feature in formulas touted as preservatives for cut flowers. Feeding fresh cut flowers with just a few drops mixed with a tablespoon of sugar adds antibacterial action to prevent disease while the sugar provides the carbohydrates.

The most important step recommended by florists is to keep the water clean. Warm water that is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 C.) helps stems adjust and increases the flow of water and nutrients. Change water daily and add new food.

Cut stems each time to open up the capillaries in the stem and enhance uptake. Cut these at an angle in water to reduce air getting into the stems. Keep the flowers cool, if possible, and in indirect light.

If you use florists foam for the arrangement, allow it to soak in the solution before inserting the stems. This keeps air bubbles from forming, which will escalate flower death. Use care when handling the stems to reduce crushing and other damage which will impede water and nutrient uptake.

Above all, enjoy your lovely bouquet as long as possible and place it where you can see it every day. Flowers are the promise of life renewed and a connection to the natural world which is wondrous, beautiful and delicate.

Professional florists all agree — skipping floral food is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to cut flowers. Even the most basic of grocery store bouquets come with the tiny packets. But when springtime rolls around and there’s plenty of fresh blooms in the backyard, what’s a recreational gardener to do?

Making your own flower preservative is super easy, according to this recipe from the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It takes just four ingredients that you already probably own, and they each work their own magic to keep flowers looking better for longer. Check it out:

Homemade Flower Food

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bleach
  • 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
  • 1 quart lukewarm water

For a mini science lesson, carbs like sugar feed the plant, bleach fights bacteria, and the acidic citrus adjusts the pH. As for the water temperature, experts recommend always using lukewarm water to help the stems drink faster. The notable exception is spring bulb flowers like tulips, which do best in cold H20. Now if only the buds outside would bloom a little sooner…

Getty Images Caroline Picard Health Editor Caroline is the Health Editor at covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news.

Gardening How-to Articles

Cut-Flower Care: How to Make Fresh Flowers from Your Garden Last Indoors

By Rose Edinger | March 1, 2006

It’s late spring, early summer. Your garden is in peak bloom, filled with vibrantly colored flowers. And now you’ve picked up an article urging you to cut those beautiful blossoms. “No, never!” you say. But this is precisely the time to create a stunning bouquet from the fruits of your labor, so you can enjoy the sights and smells of the garden inside your home as well as outside it.

As soon as the plants in my small border garden begin flowering, I begin cutting. I know that it only takes one gusty wind or heavy summer rain to destroy my beloved blooms. Cutting guarantees that at least some of my flowers will be spared this cruel fate.

There is another reason I cut: It encourages more flowering on my plants throughout the summer months and even into early fall. Periodic cutting performs the same function as deadheading—promoting more blooms by delaying the onset of fruit.

Of course, the main reason I cut is for the tremendous satisfaction I get seeing my garden-grown flowers sitting pretty in a vase on the kitchen table. The number of flowers needed depends on the size of the vase used. In order to avoid cutting too many, I add foliage to the arrangement. I use a branch or two from a tree or shrub, or some groundcover with assorted grasses. These materials help me create bouquets of various sizes and shapes.

I make sure to pick and condition my flowers properly, so they’ll have an extended vase life. There are many tricks in the cut-flower trade for creating long-lasting displays. Following are some of the best of them.

When to Cut

Early morning is the ideal time to cut fresh flowers. The flowers have had the benefit of cool night air and morning dew. Their stems are filled with water and carbohydrates and so are firm to the touch. As the day warms up, flowers gradually dehydrate. Midday is the least auspicious time to cut, as transpiration rates are at a peak and plants are rapidly losing moisture through their leaves. Flowers become limp; their necks become bent. If cut, they will not recuperate well and their vase life will probably be short.

When harvesting, have a bucket of water on hand to put the flowers in. Don’t dillydally; place the cut flowers in the bucket immediately. I like to use a plastic pail rather than a metal one because metal can affect the pH balance of the water.

Different types of flowers must be harvested at appropriate stages in their development. Flowers with multiple buds on each stem should have at least one bud showing color and one bud starting to open before being cut. This is true for spike flowers (salvias, agastaches, delphiniums, Eremurus, gladioli, snapdragons, stocks, larkspurs, and the like) as well as cluster flowers (agapanthus, Alstroemeria, baby’s breath, Clarkia, lilacs, phlox, Queen Anne’s lace, verbenas, yarrow, and silenes, for example). If gathered too early—while they’re still tightly budded—these flowers will not open in a vase of water.

By contrast, flowers that grow on individual stems (such as asters, calendulas, chrysanthemums, dahlias, Datura, gerbera daisies, marigolds, sunflowers, Tithonia, and zinnias) should be cut when fully open.

When selecting foliage, look for firm leaves and stems with strong coloration.

Cutting Tools and Techniques

Always use clean, sharp utensils when cutting flowers. Knives, clippers, or shears can be employed. Never use ordinary household scissors. The gauge on scissors is set for paper or fabric, not for flower stems, which are bulkier. Using scissors will crush their vascular systems and prevent proper water uptake.

Flower and foliage stems that have been left out of water, even for a short period of time, seal up and inhibit the absorption of water. Air bubbles sometimes enter the stem and prevent a steady flow of water. In order to prevent this from happening, some people cut their flowers under water before transferring from bucket to vase. However, I have found this to be awkward. Custom-cutting the flower stem in open air and immediately placing it in the vase of water is usually fine.

More: Making A Midcentury Wedding Bouquet

Cut all flowers and foliage about one inch from the bottom of a main stem. Make the slice at an angle of about 45 degrees. Cutting at an angle provides a larger exposed area for the uptake of water. It also enables the stem to stand on a point, allowing water to be in contact with the cut surface. Remove all the lower foliage that would be submerged in water. This will retard bacterial growth, which shortens the vase life of flowers and makes the water smell foul.

Water Temperature

Professional florists and commercial growers always use lukewarm water for their cut flowers. The water temperature should be 100°F to 110°F. (An exception is when you are using bulb flowers, such as hyacinths and tulips, which need cold water.) Warm water molecules move faster than cold water molecules and so can be absorbed by flowers with greater ease. The objective is to get water and nutrients as quickly as possible to the head of the flower.


Using a preservative definitely increases the longevity of cut flowers. To survive, flowers need three ingredients: carbohydrates, biocides, and acidifiers. Carbohydrates are necessary for cell metabolism; biocides combat bacteria and are necessary for maintaining plant health; acidifiers adjust the pH of water to facilitate and increase water uptake.

Homemade Flower Preservative

Home mixes can be as effective as commercial preservatives. This easy-to-make recipe is my favorite.

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon household bleach
  • 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
  • 1 quart lukewarm water

Under normal circumstances, flowers get what they need from the plant. When severed from the plant, however, flowers are deprived of these essential substances. But they are present in ready-made commercial preservatives, like Floral Life. Such solutions contain sugar for nutrition, bleach to keep the water clear of bacteria, and citric acid to gently acidify the water. When using commercial brands, be sure to follow recommended measurements for different container sizes.

One common suggestion is to place an aspirin in the water to keep flowers fresh. It is likely that aspirin’s effectiveness is simply the result of the drug’s carbohydrate content. Another well-known suggestion is to drop a penny into the water. Apparently, the copper in the penny works like an acidifier, decreasing the pH of the water. Unfortunately, solid copper pennies are no longer being minted.

Preparing the Stems

Garden flowers require some additional preparation after cutting. The type of preparation depends on the type of flower stem: hearty, hollow, soft, woody, or milky.

Hearty Stems

Flowers with hearty (or solid) stems, such as cockscomb, Clarkia, marigolds, statice, and transvaal daisies, need only the diagonal cut to absorb maximum water. They should be left to drink in lukewarm water with preservative for a minimum of one hour before arranging.

Hollow Stems

The stems of hollow-stemmed flowers, such as amaryllis, bells-of-Ireland, dahlias, delphiniums, and hollyhocks, need to be filled with water. Simply turn the flower upside down and pour water into the open cavity of the stalk. To keep the liquid in, you can plug the stem with a small piece of cotton and then place it in the vase. Alternatively, place your thumb over the opening at the bottom of the stem and then put it in the water. The water trapped inside will keep the stem strong and straight. I have noticed that when I fill the hollow stems in this way, the heads of my dahlias stand upright and the small buds on the tip my larkspur actually open!

Soft Stems

Bulb flowers such as hyacinths, iris, and tulips have soft stems and should be cut where the green on the stem starts—just above the white bulb. Place the flowers in cold water. Since most bulbs bloom when the air and ground are still at low temperatures, they do better in a vase of cold water.

Woody Stems

For woody plants such as lilac, dogwood, mock orange, pear, and heather, be sure to split the stems at the ends rather than smash them. This will keep vascular tissues intact and create more surface area to absorb water.

Milky Stems

Flowers such as euphorbia, lobelia, poinsettia, and snow-on-the-mountain secrete latex sap that oozes into the water and clogs the vascular system of other flowers in the container, preventing them from absorbing water. For this reason, the ends of the stems need to be seared before the flowers are placed in the arrangement. There are two ways to accomplish this: Either dip the cut end of the flower in boiling water for 30 seconds or apply a flame from a match or candle to the precut flower stem for about 30 seconds.

Do not use these flowers with a pin holder, because each time the flowers are cut they need to be seared again. Searing is not effective in halting the seepage of secretion from daffodils. Therefore daffodils should not be mixed with other flowers if you want a long-lasting arrangement.

Designing the Arrangement

Now that the flowers you have taken from your garden are conditioned, it’s time to create an arrangement. Here are three design tips used by professionals:

  1. The height of the flowers should be in proportion to the size of the container—that is, the height of the flowers should not exceed one and a half times the height of the container.
  2. The arrangement should appear uniform all around. Visualize a circle divided into three equal sectors, and then select similar flowers for each of the sectors.
  3. Support the flowers to keep them in place. One simple approach, which avoids the use of props, is to use the flower stems themselves for support. By placing each flower into the container at an angle, you can form a grid or web that will hold the design together. The only flower that should be inserted straight up in the container is the center flower. This flower cannot stand without the support of the other flowers and should be placed in the container only when the grid has taken shape.

Care of Cut Flowers in an Arrangement

Here are some general rules that will help you make your cut-flower arrangements last:

  • Don’t overcrowd the flowers in the container.
  • Check the water level in the vase and replenish it frequently.
  • Flowers that go limp are not drinking well and need to be recut.
  • Always discard wilted blooms.
  • Keep flowers away from drafts, direct sunlight, and ripening fruits, which emit ethylene gas—a substance that causes buds to remain closed, petals to have poor color, and flowers to have a shortened vase life.

Rose Edinger is an award-winning floral designer with over 20 years’ experience. She specializes in thematic design work and has decorated events in the New York region and beyond.

5 Tips for Making Flowers Last Longer + DIY Flower Food Recipe

The Bombshell Mommy April 4, 2017 Crafty Corner , Home & Family Email Print Twitter Pinterest Facebook

This post was most recently updated on May 5th, 2017

Keeping fresh-cut flowers in your home has been proven to help brighten your day, enhance your mood and has even been correlated with lower blood pressure. Whether you choose to purchase a bouquet from a local farmer’s market or bring in flowers from your own yard or garden, you’re going to want to do your best to keep them vibrant and beautiful for as long as possible. While there is no preventing their inevitable wilting and demise, these five steps will prolong the life of cut flowers for up to a week, sometimes more, if you are really on top of your game.

1. Trim the stems

It may seem like all that trimming is just to create an even and lovely looking bouquet, but there is actually sound science behind it. The vascular system in the stem of flowers is used to water uptake. When the cut ends of the stems are allowed to dry out, it seals off the veins, often trapping in air bubbles as well. These air bubbles can prevent the water from getting where the flower needs it. The best way to trim stems is under cool running water to prevent any air bubbles from forming, and then placing them in a vase with fresh water immediately.

2. Only use cool water

Never use warm or hot water to fill a vase. Like the plants we eat, hot water will also cook the stems of flowers. Cooked flower stems is a recipe for imminent flower death. If you’re trying to get a bouquet to open more quickly, putting warm water in a vase will help speed the process but it will also shorten their shelf life – pun entirely intended.

3. Change the water every two to three days

If you have ever had a vase of flowers in your house, you know the water can start to get a little funky in just a couple of days. To prevent this, be sure to trim any leaves on the lower portions of the stems before you put them in the vase, especially any part that will be submerged in the water. Extra foliage will rot and turn your flower water into swamp water quickly. Go ahead and trim the stems again when you are refreshing the water, to help the flow of water through the stem.

4. Use flower food (recipe below)

When you buy flowers from a florist, farmer’s market, or even your local grocery store, they often come with the nebulous packet of “flower food”. It is usually odorless, colorless and seemingly holds powers of preternatural flower life extension. But there is really nothing magical about it. This simple mixture provides a small amount of food for the flowers, helps regulate the pH of the water and aids in water uptake. You should add flower food each time you change the water in your vase or container.

5. Keep them in a cool part of the house

Flowers are delicate, this is a given, but many people do not realize that temperature control is vital to keeping cut flowers fresher, longer. Avoid keeping your cut flowers in direct sunlight, under a heating vent or near the stove and oven. The hotter the surrounding air, the sooner you will have wilted flowers slumped over and looking sad.

DIY Flower Food


1/4 tsp. vodka or gin
1 tablet 500 mg vitamin C (crushed)
Pinch organic sugar


Mix together ingredients and add to 1 or 1-1/2 cups of water. Repeat whenever water is refreshed.

The Bombshell Mommy

“The Bombshell Mommy” is written by Abigail Blank, an erotic romance fiction writer and mother of three. Her novel, “Frozen Heart,” was published under her pen name, Annabelle Blume, by Inkspell Publishing. Got a question about how to tap into your own inner Bombshell? Email Abigail at [email protected], connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @Bombshell_Mommy and look for her on Pinterest.

“The Bombshell Mommy” is written by Abigail Blank, an erotic romance fiction writer and mother of three. Her novel, “Frozen Heart,” was published under her pen name, Annabelle Blume, by Inkspell Publishing. Got a question about how to tap into your own inner Bombshell? Email Abigail at [email protected], connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @Bombshell_Mommy and look for her on Pinterest.

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What’s In the “Flower Food” Packets That Come With Bouquets of Flowers?

Receiving flowers for a birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or “just because” is always nice. After someone gives you a beautiful bouquet of flowers, you probably cut the ends of the stems and put the flowers in a vase with water … but what’s the purpose of that little square packet that comes with the flowers?

The packet contains powdered “flower food” that is meant to make your flowers last longer. Because flowers quickly age and droop after they’ve been cut, flower food provides nutrients to combat the rapid onset of wilting. Although specific ingredients vary depending on what type of flower food you get, most flower food packets contain sugar, acid, and bleach. Sugar gives nutrients to the flowers, acid maintains the pH level of the water, and bleach reduces the amount of bacteria and fungi in the water. Some flower food packets may also include stem unpluggers, a chemical (or chemicals) that prevent the stem from closing, ensuring that the flower can absorb the flower food and water.

Although you don’t have to sprinkle the packet of flower food into the water, studies have shown that doing so is one of the most effective ways to keep your flowers looking vibrant for as long as possible. If you accidentally throw out the packet of flower food, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has instructions for making your own homemade flower food by mixing water with sugar, lemon or lime juice, and household bleach.

To ensure good-looking flowers, you can also sterilize the vase you’re using (you can disinfect it with bleach and water), change the water and trim the stems daily, and keep the flowers out of direct sunlight. Flower food packets are not one size fits all, so make sure to follow the directions printed on them.

Just like getting rid of the hiccups, it seems everyone has a theory about how to keep flowers fresh longer. We took the five most popular theories and put them to the test — seven days in a controlled environment, under observation. It was like the hunger games, except with flowers.

The Setup

We started with five vases of the same FTD arrangement. In each vase, we put 1 FTD flower food packet along with 2 cups of lukewarm water. Then each vase received one of the tests: vodka, Sprite, apple cider vinegar & sugar, aspirin or the fridge.

Wondering the thought process on these crazy theories? There is some science behind them.

  • Vodka — Vodka, or any alcohol, may have a preserving effect halting ethylene production which is the gas that makes flowers wilt.
  • Sprite — Sprite makes the water more acidic, which means it can travel up the stem of the flower more quickly. Also, the sugar serves as food for the flower.
  • Apple cider vinegar & sugar — Vinegar acts as an antibacterial agent while the sugar serves as flower food.
  • Refrigerator — Cold temperature slows aging of the flower.
  • Aspirin — Aspirin may lower the pH of the water.

We changed out the water (and replenished the same ingredients into each vase) on day 3.
Here’s what happened:

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

Day Seven

And the Losers Are…

It turns out, flowers react a lot like people.

Case in point: The vase with Sprite did fine on days 1 and 2 but started to fade on day 3 and was a slimy mess by day 5. The vase with the vodka also did fine on days 1 and 2 but looked droopy and had grayish stems by day 4. Compare the Sprite vase to a six-year-old with a sugar high; the vodka, to a college frat boy on a bender — and suddenly flower behavior makes a lot of sense.

Scientifically, sugar acts as a carb to feed the flower, but it encourages bacterial growth. Also rooted in science, alcohol does stop the production of ethylene, but flowers, like humans, can only handle a very low percentage of alcohol.

Aspirin — Despite many a study to see if aspirin works on flowers, no concrete conclusions have been made. This might be because mediocre results rarely stand out. We didn’t find the aspirin to have any preserving effects, though it did not kill the flowers faster, either.

Runner Up Is…

Apple Cider Vinegar & Sugar — Flowers need sugar as food. Sugar is a substantial ingredient in flower food packets. The problem is, sugar accelerates bacterial growth. And you get those gunky, slimy leaves around day 4 to prove it. The solution is to add an acid. Enter vinegar, the bacteria-fighting agent to combat any damage the sugar creates.

It’s the perfect pair, and the combo held its own in our survival-of-the-fittest trial.

The Winner Is…

Every night before hitting the hay, we put this vase of flowers in the fridge. They were typically in there for about eight hours. When we woke up, we took the flowers out and displayed them with the others on the dining room table. It seems such a simple solution, but it kept our flowers fresh well through day 7. It makes sense that florists keep their flowers inside a large refrigerator.

Though anchored in science, many of the theories only have an inkling of truth to them. Your best bet to keep your flowers alive longer is using the flower food packet that comes with your arrangement and placing them in the fridge overnight.

There’s something soothing about coming home to a bouquet of fresh blooms on your dining table or in your living room, and the pop of color they add can spice up even the most mundane spaces. Now, with spring here, you can have your pick when it comes to the types of flowers you choose to decorate your home with—think tulips, peonies, ranunculus, or even roses.

That said, investing in a bouquet of flowers can be intimidating, especially if you’re not the best with plants. If you’re worried you’re just going to end up killing all your expensive florals the day after you bring them home, I get it—but luckily, there are several things you can do that will help them last longer. Let the experts guide the way.

Choose the Right Flowers.

Showstopper $59.74

If you really want your flowers to last a long time, your first bet is picking them correctly. “There are some flowers that, in general, are sturdier, and they last longer than others,” says Samantha Maranca, founder of NYC-based floral company The Mini Rose Co. “Bulb flowers, such as tulips, hyacinth, and narcissus (daffodil) are very heat-sensitive, and therefore go through their life span a bit more quickly than others. A trick for these is adding ice cubes or very cold water, as warm water will hasten their life span. Lilies, ranunculus, orchids, and blooming branches typically last longer than other floral types.”

It’s also good to stick to just one or two types of flowers in a single bouquet, especially if you know you don’t have the time or patience to deal with the different care requirements of several kinds of blooms. “I suggest single-stem arrangements, which are just the same stem cut of the same variety of flower, and don’t incorporate any other,” says Brookelyn Roman of Scotts Flowers in New York City. “The reason for this is because these stems actually create their own biome in the water that they feed off of, but it might impact other flowers you bring into the bouquet.”

And of course, quality is key. “I feel like that goes without saying, but drugstore flowers obviously won’t last as long as the flowers you get from a speciality store,” says Roman. “Local is always best as well, since they’ll travel shorter distances to get to you.” Since flowers die once they’re picked, the shorter the distance traveled, the fresher the flower will be.

Trim the Stems Regularly.

You’ve heard it before, but changing your water really is key for making sure your flowers last as long as they possibly can. “Every two to three days is ideal,” says Maranca. “Everyone has an old wives’ tale about how to make your flowers last, but we find that fresh and ample water does wonders.”

Anna Cor-Zumbansen / EyeEmGetty Images

Another tip is to cut the stems off your flowers every time you change the water—but there’s a technique to this. “Preferably, you want to cut your stems under running water (warm, not hot) at an angle, because that will make sure they’re immediately hydrated—kind of like straws,” says Roman. “Use a sharp knife as opposed to scissors or a pruner to cut them.” The 45-degree angle will help the water get more easily absorbed and draw them up the stems, while the sharp cut will further allow more water to seep through.

As tempting as it might be to have your flowers by the window so that everyone can see your perfect petals, Maranca cautions against it. “Always keep flowers in a cool space, away from direct sunlight, if possible,” she says. It’s also best to avoid areas of high humidity, as those can affect flower health as well.

Pluck Out Wilting Blooms ASAP.

“All your flowers won’t last the same length of time,” says Roman. This can be due to multiple things, from quality to how easily they’ve been absorbing water, but one thing’s for sure: Once your flower has died, you need to remove it from the bouquet as soon as possible. “When a flower dies, it starts to release an odorless, invisible gas called ethelyne that’s actually harmful to living flowers,” Roman explains. So if you want your other flowers to last, you’d better act quickly.

Anna Cor-Zumbansen / EyeEmGetty Images

Another interesting tip? Buy flowers that are at the beginning of their blooming cycle. “Just remember you’re dealing with a living thing, so choosing flowers in the right point of development is key to longevity,” stresses Maranca. “If you’re having a same-day dinner party, getting flowers that are fully open is perfect. If you want something for your home or office for a full week, selecting flowers that are tighter and in an earlier stage of development might be a better plan.” Just think about how fun it’ll be to see your flowers slowly bloom every day!

While using just water is a fairly sufficient way to take care of flowers, if you’re really worried, Roman says you can create a solution for them to sit in. “The flowers have been removed from their source root, so they need the same kinds of nutrients that they would be getting from their source plant,” she elaborates. “So mostly this means adding sugar, which plants use to photosynthesize. You can buy these solutions or powders from a flower shop: They consist of sugar, citric acid, and a little bit of bleach.”

Just buy the packet, add a small amount to water, and make sure it’s dissolved—then, add your flowers to the vase. The sugar feeds the plant, the bleach helps to kill bacteria, and the citric acid balances the PH level of the water. Note that this isn’t entirely necessary, though, unless you’re using really delicate blooms.

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Why use Flower Food… the facts: An Essential Guide to Care & Conditioning

Apparently, the number 1 question FloraLife® get asked is ‘why should I use flower food?’, usually followed by the observation “After all, my flowers are good, they don’t hang around the shop for more than a couple of days so why do I need to spend money buying them food!!!”

And the quick answer is because the flowers will last even longer and your customers will be even happier if you do.

Trouble is that just sounds like an advert for FloraLife®. Which in some ways it is because obviously they would prefer it if you bought their flower food. But they’re also on a bit of a mission to dispel the myths that stop florists from using flower food as well.

Because they reckon no florist, however quickly they turn their stock or how good they believe their flowers are, can ignore the right way to care for flowers … unless they want to throw money away!

So we decided it was time to dig through the archives of The Florist and with the help of FloraLife® bring you a definitive guide to looking after your flowers and prove why old wives tales are old for a reason!

Why use flower food?

Flower food is a necessity not a luxury. As soon as flowers are cut they no longer have access to water, food and growth regulators and are beginning to die. Flower food; be it at the grower when they are first cut, in the shop or at home ensures they continue to receive food and regulators, stimulates water uptake and reduces the pH of the water.

All this generates an improvement in the development of stems, leaves, petals, size, colour and scent. It extends the vase life of flowers by more than 60% compared to water alone and means you can guarantee your customers a vase life of around 7 days and far longer with some varieties.

We’ve covered the old wives tales at the bottom but on the basis they aren’t the answer what should you be doing.

“Used properly flower food extends vase life by over 60% compared to water alone. That means you can guarantee customers 7 days satisfaction and far longer with some varieties.”

Keep your Containers Sparkling

Scrubbing buckets is a very unappealing job but has to be done to avoid the spread of bacteria – bleach is OK as long as you rinse it. Using the FloraLife® Cleaner, formulated for to clean your buckets, is far safer.

Avoid using metal pots since the ions in the metal reacts with flower food and nullifies the benefits. If you use metal buckets, drop a smaller plastic one inside and use that for the water – you keep the funky look but the flowers will last as well.

Be gentle when putting your flowers into vases – dropping them in from a great height simply bruises the stems, making it difficult or impossible for them to receive the water and nutrients they need.

“For the majority of flowers, the best pH level if water is 3.5 to 4.0. However do not use water from a water softener for flowers as the salt content can be detrimental to them.”

Check the Water

You’re in a shop not a lab so it’s impossible to keep water at absolutely perfect temperatures and pH levels. But there are things you can do to help. Check your water with a pH tester to see how acidic or alkaline your water is.

For the majority of flowers, the best pH level is 3.5 to 4.0. Using flower food will ensure your water is at its optimal pH level. Water hardness can have an effect on the quality of your flowers – natural well water can have high calcium levels due to limestone deposits, which can harm flowers. Do not use water from a water softener for flowers as the salt content can be detrimental to them.

Watch the Temperature

While water temperature levels do differ for each variety, the optimum is cold – up to 10°c – because it enables the flowers to take up water more easily, develop less bacteria, speeds up the cooling down process which slows down development of flowers, making them last longer. However tropical flowers are an exception to this and they should ideally they should be stored at about 18°c.

It is a common myth that hot water can hydrate roses and increase their shelf-life. WRONG. Hot water is far too aggressive for flower stems and it damages their cells causing discolouration. Proper use of a hydration solution specially made for flowers is far better.

“It’s a myth that straight cut stems will seal up; it’s more about the cleanliness of the cut. Think Holby City/Casualty – your workroom should be as clean as an operating theatre!”

Cut Stems properly

Always cut at least 3-5cm off all stems with a clean sharp knife or very sharp scissors. Research has shown that if more than 50% of the vessels which take in water at the bottom of the stem have been blocked then the flower will become limp due to insufficient water intake. Cutting this much from the end ensures most of these blocked vessels are removed.

However it’s a myth that cutting stems on the straight means they will seal up when sitting on the bottom of the bucket; it’s more about the cleanliness of the cut not the angle. So whether you cut at an angle or on the straight is a personal preference but – and it’s a big but – if your knives or scissors are dirty or blunt that can have a huge impact so make sure you keep them as clean as the buckets. Think Holby City/Casualty – ideally your workroom should be as clean as an operating theatre!

Use secateurs to cut woody stems – NEVER hammer them. Be careful not to smash or pierce the stems, or use blunt scissors, as this destroys the stem structure and inhibits water uptake, and causes bacteria to multiply more quickly and over a larger area. It also causes the flower undue stress, which shortens its life.

Stems will develop a film and become discoloured from stagnating in the water; this blocks water flow to the flower. Recut the stems each time the water is changed to allow water to penetrate.

Avoid Contamination

The key reason for giving your flowers proper tender loving care is protection from all of those nasty infections and bacteria. Tedious as it may be, the harsh reality is no florist can afford to ignore proper care and condition if they want to avoid foul smells, dying stock and wasting money.

The most obvious but often neglected tip is to always clean your vases & cutting tools and change the water in containers regularly, this is absolutely vital in stopping the spread of bacteria.

Always remove leaves which will sit below the water level as decomposing foliage creates a breeding ground for thriving bacteria. You’ll also lose less water through evaporation because you have reduced the amount of overall leaf surface area.

Remove rose thorns carefully, without shredding the stem. It may save your poor fingers but those open wounds on the stem make a welcoming entrance for bacteria and air bubbles. It is also best to avoid metal strippers as they unnecessarily damage stem bark and foliage. Best tip is to just snip the point off the thorn.

Edging clear vases with foliage is funky but can be dangerous for anything but short term installations. Use faux foliage, ribbon or cello instead.

Check that there is no condensation on plastic sleeves or petals as you are moving the flowers into a cooler. If there is then allow it to evaporate before cooling.

Always avoid unnecessarily removing foliage, petals, bark, thorns, from the stem! Just like humans, all of these open wounds create an entry point for bacteria. It also triggers the internal production of ethylene in the flower which is that dreaded poison that shortens the life of all flowers!

“Always try to remove flowers from plastic sleeves, wrapping or net cups as soon as possible because it can get too humid for them under all those layers.”

Botrytis Cinera, or ‘grey mildew’ is the name of the fungi infection which causes brown spots in the petals of your roses, gerberas and Lisianthus and shortens their vase life considerably. Once this infection becomes visible the flowers must be thrown away. You can try to hold back the spread of the spores by keeping flowers somewhere with low relative humidity (below 90%) and low temperatures (± 5°C). When buying flowers make sure you keep an eye out for the early signs of this dreaded disease since infection often occurs early on in the chain.

Don’t spray flowers or leaves with water either as this can also encourage Botrytis. They’ll get all the hydration they need through the stems if you use the right food in your bucket water. However if you get wilt, especially on Hydrangea, make sure you have a bottle of Quick Dip in stock, it is miraculous at bringing flowers back to life

Always try to remove flowers from plastic sleeves, wrapping or net cups as soon as possible because it can get too humid for them under all those layers. If you have a cooler, try to keep the relative humidity level below 90%.

Daffodils and narcissi create a toxic slime which harms others varieties so don’t mix them unless they have been stood for 12 hours by themselves or you use the special flower food on the market, Hyacinths however are not affected by Daffodil slime so can be mixed with confidence.

Bear in mind that many binding and mounting materials can reduce the vase life of your flowers including wires used on gerbera, natural fibres such as rope and raffia which may be biologically contaminated and unprotected metal wire which is corrosive when mixed with acidic flower water. To avoid Gerbera droop buy a stronger variety and use the right gerbera food; erect stems guaranteed.

Watch out for Ethylene

Ethylene is the number one enemy for flowers, it is an odourless and colourless hormone given off by plants which immediately increases the decay of flowers and plants it comes into contact with. It is surprisingly powerful since even the smallest amount can cause your flowers to become discoloured and brown, drop flowers and leaves and die.

Remove all ethylene producing plants from the room that flowers are stored in. Fruit and vegetables are the biggest culprits so make sure you don’t keep that banana or apple you brought for lunch in the flower cooler or near the display!

Flowers themselves also give off ethylene gas; especially when they are dead or dying, so always remove old stock immediately. Again, temperature is key since flowers become much less sensitive to ethylene in low temperatures: they can’t be warm but you can wrap up!! Orchids and roses are particularly sensitive so be extra vigilant with these.

Keep them cool

Flowers are like humans. Open and active in the day and when it’s warm, shut when it’s dark and cold so to keep them in peak condition avoid sun, heaters and drafts.

If possible, place flowers in a cooler or cool area overnight before putting them on display so they have plenty of time to hydrate, take up their food and get ready to be sold. It is not time wasted but a key step to making sure flowers last. However tropical flowers like Anthuriums and orchids should be kept warm.

Know your numbers

Bluntly one number does not fit all which is why Floralife® have a number system; Floralife®: 100/200/300 to indicate which food should be used when and where. Not to sell more but because each formula contains a different mix to make sure the flower does the right thing in the right place.

“Dose properly: going below 80% or above 150% of the recommended dosage of Floralife® 200 in the shop can cause bacteria, lack of flower development, bad smells and discolouration.”

Floralife® 100: Hydration solution: For growers and used after flowers have been cut and before shipping.

Floralife® 200: Storage solution: For florist shops to keep flowers in a perfect holding pattern whilst they are waiting to be sold.

Floralife® 300: For consumers only as it encourages opening and maintains flowers for the maximum amount of time. Ideally you should give two sachets per delivery as the average vase holds more than 1 ltr of water and underfeeding is as bad as overfeeding and if possible buy the clear versions as non-clear can damage glass vases.

Dose up Properly: Always read the instructions – going below 80% or above 150% of the recommended dosage of Floralife® 200 in the shop can cause serious problems such as growth of bacteria, lack of flower development, bad smells and discolouration. Either invest in one of their special flower food dispensers or use the purpose-mad, pre-measured in-shop level EZDose Floralife® 200 sachets which you just drop into the bucket.

NEVER, EVER use Floralife® 300 in your shop display buckets … it will over-feed your flowers and they will die sooner. Conversely if you use Floralife® 200 for consumer sales the flowers won’t receive the full flower load they need, won’t open and blossom as they should and will result in a disappointed customer.

The only time level 300 should be used in-store is if you are sending out flowers in vases or aquapacks that may not be changed or foam based designs.

Still not convinced?

Then why not invest in one of the nifty Floralife® starter kit. An economical way to trial the ultimate in flower care and see for yourself the difference it can make. Each care kit contains the 5 products needed to provide maximum flower life for all your flowers and at just under £20 means you can do your own vase trials instore without spending a fortune.

Happy care and conditioning!

Want to know more?

Hopefully we’ve covered everything you could possibly want to know – there’s a list of FAQ’s at the bottom – and we’re working on a new site as well. You can find out about each of our products at but if there is anything we’ve missed drop a line to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to help.

“Old wives tales may make fun headlines but these myths are all so yesterday and do more harm than good.”

Why NOT use home remedies

The press love rehashing all the old wives tales because it makes a fun headline. Truth is these myths are all so yesterday and do more harm than good.

Flower food – whoever makes it – is the scientifically proven method for prolonging the shelf life of flowers in the same way that tooth paste is the scientifically proven way for cleaning your teeth, so why do anything differently?! Saying you must use flower food isn’t marketing hype to sell a product … it genuinely can make a huge difference.

Here we explode some of the most common old wives tales


This is an aggressive product for plant tissues, clothing and human skin. Dosage must be very precise in order not to damage both flowers and leaves. Even if applied properly, its effect is very short-lived, because household chlorine stops working after half a day, while the cut flowers require support during their entire vase life.

Copper coins

Copper only affects the vase water and because the release rate of is very slow it is totally ineffective. In addition UK & US copper coins no longer contain copper but a copper coloured steel alloy so there isn’t any to release!

Soft drinks

The amount of food supplements in soft drinks is too small to support natural leaf and flower development as it would occur on the plant. Any positive effect of this remedy is because of the sugar content and the pH level. While the citric acid keeps the water “somewhat fresh” and the sugar feeds the flowers, this mixture actually encourages bacterial growth, which harms the flowers.


Sugars are actually a dream come true for micro-organisms who love to feast on it which just guarantees quick contamination in vase water. This remedy is too one sided to be effective for normal leaf and flower development.

Vodka/ Gin

Cut flowers and plants, like many people, can only tolerate small concentrations of alcohol, up to eight percent. The solution needs to be diluted and overall is an incredibly pricy and not very effective way to look after flowers … keep it for yourself!


What is the difference between Floralife® Crystal Clear® Flower Food and Floralife® Flower Food?

Floralife® Flower Food is the original formula which results in an opaque, or milky, use solution versus the more recently developed Floralife® Crystal Clear® Flower Food formula, which yields a clear use solution. As far as effectiveness is concerned, there is no difference. The decision to choose one over the other is purely aesthetic and based upon whether you are using a clear vase for design, solid container, or floral foam.

What are the key ingredients in Floralife® Crystal Clear® Flower Food?

There are three main ingredients: nutritional supplement, pH adjuster, and stem absorption enhancers

How often should I change my buckets and replace with flower food solution?

Buckets should be changed every 4 days or so and cleaned with our special Floralife® D.C.D® Cleaner to reduce the amount of bacteria which is harmful to flowers. Only then should you add the flower food treated water.

Sometimes my Floralife® Crystal Clear® Flower Food concentrate looks a bit yellow. Is it still okay to use?

Yes. The use solution will become clear when the concentrate is diluted according to instructions and filled into the flower vase. Extreme heat sometimes will cause the product to turn yellow, however this is not harmful to the flowers and their development.

Can you use Floralife® Crystal Clear® Flower Food in vases that aren’t clear?

No problem. However using metallic containers isn’t recommended for any flower foods as overtime it could damage the metal and possibly negatively affect the chemistry of the flower food.

How long is the shelf life of Floralife® Crystal Clear® Flower Food?

All Floralife® flower foods will positively perform for at least 2 years under ambient storage conditions.

Is it okay to use only part of the powder or liquid in the Floralife® Flower Food consumer packet for the first water treatment and save the rest for when I need to change out the water?

No. It is best to dissolve the entire packet of flower food into the properly measured amount of water indicated on the packet. If the packet says it treats 1 litre of water, make sure you add all the contents to this amount of water and mix. Extreme under- or over- dosing of flower food can sometimes actually do more harm than good and reduce flower freshness and flower life.

Why should I invest in buying your dosing system?

As we’ve said flower food must be used at the proper concentration to get the best benefits. Our dosing units accurately measures, mixes, and dispenses flower food which increases the quality and freshness of flowers on a consistent basis. They don’t take up much room, they’re easy to maintain and because they’re accurate you don’t waste anything so you’ll probably cover the cost quite quickly.

Used properly flower food extends vase life by over 60% compared to water alone. That means you can guarantee customers 7 days satisfaction and far longer with some varieties.

When purchasing cut flowers, or harvesting them yourself, it is important for you to remember that the flower is on a limited lifespan. Cut flowers are no longer attached to a root system, and will perish quickly if not cared for properly. Here, we are going to take a look at some things you can do to get the most out of your cut flowers.

Start off with a Clean Vase

Lingering bacteria and fungi are the enemy, and you don’t want them to contaminate the new water to which new flowers are going to be exposed.


You should re-cut all stems before placing them in the vase. Remove the last 3-5cm of a stem at an angle; do this under water by either cutting in a water-filled basin, or holding the stems and shears under running water. You shouldn’t crush or burn stems, just make clean cuts.

Remove any leaves that are low enough on the stem that they will become immersed in the water.

If you are dealing with a flower like a poppy or poinsettia that has a tendency to ooze a milky fluid, you can extend its vase-life by holding the bottom 5cm of its stem in boiling water for 10 seconds prior to arrangement.

If you plan to use floral foam in your arrangement, be sure to place the foam in the vase and let it sink naturally. If you push floral foam down into the water, it traps air that will shorten the vase-life of your plants.


Most flower arrangements begin their collapse early for the reason that they do not get enough water to remain crisp and fresh-looking. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your flowers last longer by getting enough water:

As mentioned above, cut stems under water. This keeps air out of the stems, and keeps the xylem and phloem working more efficiently.

If you notice white deposits around faucets or in kettles, or otherwise know that you have hard water, use de-mineralized water from a supermarket in preparing vase solutions. Don’t use softened water, because it usually contains sodium that could harm cut flowers.

When making a vase solution, use hot water (hot, but not uncomfortable). You should also add some sort of preservative as described below.


Cut flowers are still living things. They will still require nutrients in order to maintain their colour and overall appearance. Even after they are separated from their root systems, cut flowers can get much of what they need through a vase solution. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare your vase solutions that will help maintain your flowers through improving water flow, supplying nutrients to nurture buds, and inhibiting the growth of unwanted micro-organisms.

Lemon-lime soda is a good additive. Using one part soda with three parts water will render a solution that balances sugars and acids to keep the flowers healthy for longer. Don’t use diet sodas, as they don’t have the sugar you want in the solution. Also avoid colas, as these sodas tend to have too much acid. If you want to keep the solution clear, add a very light bleach component. The bleach should only be about 1.25ml per litre.

If you want a more “from-scratch” solution for your flowers, add the following to a litre of warm water: 30ml lemon juice, 15 ml sugar, and 1.25ml bleach. With this solution, you will want to add another 1ml of bleach every 4 days.

If mixing your own solution isn’t quite your thing, you can always opt for a commercially available flower preservative. Florists and supermarkets will often carry a mix for improving the vase life of flowers. The commercial solutions may not last as long as the given recipes, but they are convenient and inexpensive. Just follow the directions that come with the packaging.

You should take note to avoid using aspirin or vinegar in your vase solutions, as they are not generally effective for increasing the vase-life of flowers.

Treat them well

Flowers will fare better in cool rooms. Higher temperatures will lead to higher rates of degeneration in cut flowers. Avoid putting arrangements where they will be subject to higher ambient heat, such as: in a sunny spot, near heaters, or on heat generating appliances. Properly displaying your arrangement will let the preparation help your cut flowers to last much longer than simply putting them in some water.

How to Make Your Own Flower Food

When you receive a bouquet from a local florist, you also often get a packet of a substance called “flower food.” This powder is designed to be mixed into your vase water and provide your blooms with extra nutrients. However, because you should change your vase water daily, you may run out of flower food before the petals start wilting. Fortunately, you can mix up your own concoction to help your fresh flowers maintain their beauty longer. Here’s how to make your own plant nutrient:

Components of Flower Food
Flower food consists of three ingredients that each cater to your bloom’s needs: sugar, acid and a bacteria inhibitor. Sugar provides energy and fuel for flowers so they’ll stay healthy. However, they’ll have a difficult time absorbing that sugar in water that’s neutral or base on the pH scale. Instead, you have to tip the balance to the acidic side. This means adding an element like vinegar or lemon juice to your concoction. Finally, you’ll need an ingredient that kills bacteria, as decaying flowers deposit germs into their water that can choke their life faster.

Fortunately, you may already have all of the ingredients necessary for flower food right in your home. Here’s what you need:

  • Water.
  • Corn syrup or sugar.
  • White vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Liquid bleach.

Getting the Ratio Right
How much of each ingredient you’ll use depends on how much water you start with.

One Vase

  • 1 teaspoon syrup or sugar.
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • 1 teaspoon bleach.

Combine these ingredients with enough water to fill your vase. Then, insert your cut flowers.

One Jug
Do you order flowers frequently or change the vase water daily? Then you may need more than one container’s worth of flower food.

  • 1 quart water.
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup or sugar.
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • 1 teaspoon bleach.

Mix the ingredients together in your quart-size container, and store it in your refrigerator until you need it. You can also double, triple, etc., the recipe based on how much vase water you need.

Safety Tips
If you store your flower food in the refrigerator, be careful! Because it contains bleach, it is not safe for human consumption. Label your water container so no one accidentally drinks from it. Or, if you’re worried about keeping bleach-contaminated water, simply omit the ingredient. Your flower food won’t have a bacteria-killing component, but it will still contain beneficial nutrients for your blooms.

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