Homemade Cut Flower Food

Florists provide floral preservative for arrangements to help extend the life of flower displays. Cut-flower food is another term for this substance that extends the vase life of blooms. The University of Massachusetts website recommends the use of common household substances for preserving flower arrangements at home. Create a homemade cut flower food with household ingredients to increase the longevity of your own bouquets, centrepieces and floating flowers.

Juice one lemon or two limes. Squeezing them by hand works fine.

Pour a gallon of lukewarm water into a pitcher. Use filtered water if available; otherwise, tap water is fine. Florists use warm water to help preserve cut flowers.

Add 1 Tbs sugar to the pitcher and stir to dissolve it. Sugar provides nourishment to the flowers to increase their vase life.

Add 1 Tbs. bleach and 2 Tbs of lemon or lime juice to the cut flower food mixture. The bleach kills bacteria and the citric acid makes the water more acidic, which helps the cut flowers take in the water.

Cut flower and foliage stems at a 45-degree angle with garden shears or a sharp knife. Place them in a container with the cut-flower food mixture immediately after cutting the stems.


Adjust the recipe to make smaller or larger quantities as needed, depending on the number and sizes of vases and other floral containers you need to fill. Soak floral foam in the cut flower food before making the arrangement, if you use floral foam. Cut flowers early in the morning when the flowers have the most moisture in them. Change the water every other day--daily in hot water. In a pinch, add citrus soda to a vase of cut flowers--regular, non-diet type soda. The sugar and citric acid will help the flowers last longer.


Keep bleach out of the reach of children. For households with pets, keep vases out of their reach or use narrow containers to prevent pets from drinking the floral preservative water.

Things You'll Need

  • Granulated sugar, regular or fine
  • Household bleach
  • Lemon or lime
  • Juicer, any kind, optional
  • Measuring spoons
  • Warm water
  • Pitcher
  • Mixing spoon
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About the Author

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.