The truth about cut flower food

Published: Monday 9 January 2023

The truth about cut flower food

We’ve all seen those little packets of flower food attached to our flowers, and some of us even use them, whereas the rest ends up in the all-purpose kitchen drawer. But what is in those packets, and how do you use them to extend the life of your flowers?

Before we go into the chemicals in these packets, let us look at how to use them. 
• Step one is to dissolve the whole sachet into half a litre of cold water. Stir well until all is dissolved. 
• Step two is to fill your well-cleaned vase with this flower food-enriched water whenever you recut the stems during the maintenance of your cut flowers. 

Commercially packed flower food contains three ingredients: Sugar, acidifier and bleach.

The sugar feeds the flowers, the acid helps keep the stems sucking up water, and the bleach keeps the water in your vase going green as bacteria grow.

These commercial sachets of flower food contain quite a substantial percentage of bleach in the form of powdered crystalised bleach. Not all flowers thrive in water with high concentrations of bleach, and the mixture can be dangerous when ingested.

Commercially made flower food comes in plastic sachets – even more single-use plastic destined for landfills.

Is there a safe alternative?

Luckily you can keep your flowers happy by making your own flower food that is bleach-free and 100% safe. 
You need two ingredients:
• White sugar, one teaspoon
• White vinegar, one teaspoon
• (Vinegar can be substituted with ¼ teaspoon of citric acid)
Dissolve in half a litre of water and use it to fill your vase.

Tap water contains enough chlorine, so you need not add any extra in the form of bleach.

Regular water changes will prevent the growth of bacteria in your vases.

Flowers last quite a bit longer when they get fed with sugar, and the acid not only keeps the cut from closing up quickly, but it also slows down the growth of bacteria.