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What is Flower Food And How Much Is Too Much?


  • Flower food keeps your flowers fresh and blooming for longer.
  • Overdosing or underdoing fresh flowers can damage them.
  • Flower food contains sugar, citric acid, and bleach.
  • You should generally use 3.5 grams of flower food to half a litre of water.
  • You can make flower food with 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of lemon juice, 1 tsp of bleach and a quart of warm water.

If you have ever purchased flowers or been given them as a gift, then you will probably be familiar with the little packet of flower food that comes with the bouquet. These little packets contain a mixture of sugar, citric acid, and bleach that help keep your flowers fresh and blooming for longer. 

Using flower food has benefits for your fresh cut flowers, such as it can help add about 3 more days to their lifespan. However, adding too much flower food or too little can cause damage. To understand why overdosing or underdoing fresh flowers with flower food can be harmful, you need to know a little about the ingredients and what they do to your flowers.

What is flower food made out of?

Ingredients between different brands can vary, but most flower food packets contain sugar, citric acid, and bleach. The citric acid balances the pH level of the water which means flowers will be able to drink faster and reduce wilting. Secondly, flowers produce sugar during their growth, so when harvested they stop this process and thus require sugar to continue growing. Lastly, the bleach is a biocide which will diminish any bacteria and fungi created by the flowers and sugar in the water. It stops the water becoming thick and cloudy allowing the flowers to keep drinking. 

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Flower Food?

If you accidentally run out, there are many formulas for DIY flower food. You can make your own flower food by adding about 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp of bleach to your vase before adding about a quart of warm tap water. Florist brands Chrysal® and Floralife® also do a great job at producing flower food for the professional florist and for those at home that are time-poor.

How Much Flower Food Do I Use?

Caring for your fresh flowers with clean water and flower food is like creating a similar environment as they once had in nature. Overdosing your flowers with too much flower food is like overeating. It most likely will lead to the stems discolouring and the leaves might look as if they are burnt. This is most likely to happen if you put twice the regular dose for the amount of water you use in your vase.
Underdosing on the other hand is like not giving your flowers enough food and will not allow your flowers to last and meet their best potential bloom. Underdosing with flower food most likely will result in the least favourable outcome for your cut flowers than overdosing because it can delay the development of the bloom and scent. Also, the stems will become limp and the leaves may discolour.
The Right Amount
The correct amount of flower food to use is generally 3.5 grams to half a litre of water.  The dosage instructions should also be marked on the packaging and you should follow these instructions to get a perfect balance.

How Do I Use Flower Food?

Even before you put any flower food in your vase, be sure to follow these simple steps for keeping your fresh cut flowers lasting longer.

1. Clean and sterilise your vase. Cleaning it with bleach is your best option.
2. Cut the bottom of the stems at a forty-five-degree angle to unblock them and allow the flowers to feed.
3. Take off any leaves that would end up sitting under the waterline. These leaves will only create bacteria.
4. Change the water regularly or when it starts to become cloudy.
5. Keep fresh flowers in a cool place and out of direct sunlight.
6. Keep your flowers away from direct air conditioning and heaters.

For more information on general flower food care and available products read our Flower Food FAQ page. If you want more information on how to keep your favourite blooms fresh for longer read our other Koch Blog A Guide To Keeping Your Fresh Cut Flowers Fresh

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