The Best Flower Food for Different Blooms: DIY Flower Food Recipes to Keep Your Flowers Fresh

Just like how different plants require different watering frequencies, cut flowers also have different sugar needs. Roses, for example, need more sugar to stay fresh in a vase compared to bulb-type flowers like tulips and lilies.

If you overdose or underdose your beautiful flower arrangement with the wrong flower food, you could end up damaging their stems, leaves, and petals. This will then speed up their deterioration instead of extending their freshness.

A study from the University of Massachusetts Extension Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture Program recommended the sugar concentration for each flower that we often see in vase arrangements.

In this blog, we listed flowers featured in the study and provided a DIY flower food recipe based on the recommended sugar amount. We also mentioned existing flower food products that are best for common blooms that weren't included in the study.

What Is Flower Food?

Flower food is a specialized solution designed to extend the freshness and vibrancy of cut flowers. It is composed of essential nutrients that nourish blooms after being severed from their natural sources. Flower food typically includes a mixture of sugar, acids to lower pH levels, and biocides to inhibit bacterial growth.

The sugar serves as a food source for the flowers, while the acid helps water move more efficiently through the stems. Meanwhile, the biocides prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms in the vase water, which can lead to decay. Flower food acts as a lifeline, ensuring that your bouquets and arrangements remain lively and beautiful for an extended period.

Why Is Flower Food Important?

Flower food is crucial for maintaining the vitality and longevity of cut flowers. It serves two essential purposes:

  1. It provides vital nutrients, such as sugar and biocides, ensuring that the flowers have access to nourishment and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria in the water. The sugar acts as a food source for the flowers, while the biocides inhibit microbial proliferation, extending the life of the blooms.
  2. It helps regulate the pH levels of the water, enhancing the flower's ability to absorb nutrients and water, thus keeping them fresher for longer.

In essence, flower food acts as a lifeline for cut flowers, enhancing their beauty and extending their freshness.

Best Flower Food for Baby’s Breath

 baby's breath in vase

Image by Deborah Hudson from Pixabay

Baby’s breath is most commonly used as bouquet filler, thanks to its tiny petals and the number of flowers that bloom from each stem. But it can also be the main flower of a vase arrangement, especially if you manage to get your hands on the pink variety.

To make a flower food that’s optimal for baby’s breath, mix together 3 teaspoons (leveled, not heaping) of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of bleach, and 2 tablespoons of fresh lime or lemon juice (citric acid) in 1 quart of water.

If most of the buds are still closed, mix in 10 teaspoons of sugar instead, while the measurements for bleach, citric acid, and water remain the same. Use the second formula until 95% of the flowers are in bloom.

Note that the “1 quart of water” is the amount of water you’ll put in your vase. So if the vase can hold more or less than 1 quart, adjust the other measurements accordingly.

Best Flower Food for Gerbera Daisies

two orange gerbera daisies in a vase

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Gerbera daisies are available year-round and come in a variety of colors, from bright shades like burnt orange to pastels like pale pink and to dark hues like deep purple. It’s no wonder they are now the fifth most popular flower in the world.

If you only have gerberas in your vase arrangement, a solution containing ¼ teaspoon of bleach in 1 quart of water is enough to keep it fresh for 7 to 10 days. But if it’s mixed with other flowers that need sugar, gerberas can handle flower food mixed with up to 12 level teaspoons of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of bleach, and 2 tablespoons of citric acid.

Best Flower Food for Marguerite Daisies

three white marguerite daisies in a vase

Photo by Natalie Kinnear on Unsplash

Marguerite daisies are the ones you picture when you think of daisies: a single row of white petals with a big golden yellow center. However, they can also come in different varieties and have yellow and pink petals.

Unlike Gerberas, Marguerites can only handle up to 1 teaspoon of sugar per quart of water. Overdosing these blooms in sugar can damage their leaves.

Best Flower Food for Gladiolus

five orange gladiolus flowers in a vase

Photo by Earl Wilcox on Unsplash

Because of its long,sword-like stalk and trumpet-shaped flowers, the gladiolus makes a popular choice for accent flowers in an arrangement. It goes best with roses, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, oriental lilies, asters, and irises.

To make a flower food for gladioli, mix 8 to 12 teaspoons of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of bleach, and 2 tablespoons of citric acid in 1 quart of fluoride-free water. If you’d rather buy from the store, the Chrysal Clear Bulbosus is formulated for bulb flowers including the gladiolus.

Best Flower Food for Lilies

white lilies in a fish bowl vase

Photo by Linda Knicely on Unsplash

Just like gerberas, lilies are one of the most popular flowers, especially in the United States. While the white variety is the most well-known, you can also find lilies with red, pink, and yellow petals.

If the lilies in your vase arrangement are still closed or partially open, give them 1 quart of water with 4 to 6 teaspoons of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of bleach, and 2 tablespoons of citric acid. But if the lilies are fully open, skip the sugar to prevent the leaves from yellowing.

Best Flower Food for Roses

A single peach-colored rose in a vase

Photo by 青 晨 on Unsplash

It’s undeniable that roses are the most popular flowers and the most common species you’ll find in a bouquet. Whether it’s for an anniversary or a seasonal arrangement, you’ll bet there’s at least one rose in full bloom in the bunch.

Because the UMass study didn’t include roses in their experiment, we recommend getting a special flower food for this species. Chrysal has Chrysal Supreme Rosa, which is formulated specifically for roses.

Best Flower Food for Hydrangaeas

one purple and one pink hydrangea in separate white vases

Photo by Maarten Deckers on Unsplash

Because of how they look, hydrangeas can add drama to a mixed bouquet or can look good on their own. You can find them in feminine and cool colors: white, cream, blushing pink, raspberry, violet, lavender, periwinkle, and cobalt blue.

Hydrangeas were not featured in the UMass study, but recommends mixing ½ teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of citric acid, and a few drops of bleach in 4 cups of water to create a flower food for your hydrangea arrangement.

Best Flower Food for Tulips

Pink tulips in a white vase

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

If you were to think of the spring season, tulips would be one of the images your mind would conjure. It’s also iconic because of its unique shape and the variety of colors it comes in, making it a popular choice for mixed or single-type arrangements.

For its flower food, mix ¼ teaspoon of bleach in 1 quart of water. Placing tulips in a sugar-filled solution is not recommended. If you have a mixed arrangement that includes tulips (or just want store-bought flower food), the Chrysal Clear Tulipa is a good choice.

Best Flower Food for Peonies

A bunch of pink peonies in a green vase

Photo by Alex Seinet on Unsplash

With its eye-catching shape and fragrant smell, the peony is one of the most sought-after blooms for weddings and other special occasions. And because it’s only in bloom in the northern hemisphere from late May through June, you’d want to have this flower in your vase once it’s available at your local florist.

Just like its blooming season, the peony has a short vase life of 5 days. But you can keep it fresh longer with sugar, according to the UMass study. While it didn’t specify how much sugar to put in the solution, expert florists recommend 1 tablespoon. The study, however, says that a 0.5 to 1% concentration of FloraLife would help, too.

Best Flower Food for Mixed Arrangements

vase filled with different flowers

Photo by Yuliia Dementsova on Unsplash

Of course, you can’t just have one type of flower in your vase all the time. While this type of arrangement is beautiful, too, having different flowers in one vase adds more depth and color to the space. But how can you keep all of them fresh when they require different amounts of sugar?

Your best option is to use the flower food included in your bouquet or to use a flower food product like Chrysal Clear Universal Flower Food or Floralife Flower Food, which are formulated to sustain all flowers.

But if you want to make your own, the rule of thumb is to use the flower food ratio for the most needy flower in the vase. For example, if your arrangement contains gladiolus flowers, then use the flower food that’s especially for them even if the vase also contains flowers that don’t really need sugar, such as marguerites and lilies.

While the high sugar concentration can be bad for other flowers, overdosing them is better than underdosing because their effects are easier to counter. With marguerites, for example, you can simply remove their leaves when they start to deteriorate.

If you underdose with flower food, on the other hand, then the majority if not all of the flowers in the vase will suffer. Their stems and leaves can get discolored, any closed or partially open flowers won’t fully bloom, and the petals can get limp.

Floral Care Is Easier With the Right Flower Food

Now you know about the intricate world of flower food and its vital role in preserving the beauty and freshness of cut flowers. You also learned that different flowers have varying sugar requirements, and providing the wrong type or amount of flower food can lead to unintended consequences.

Whether you opt for DIY solutions or commercial flower food products, understanding and applying the right nourishment for your blooms is essential to extending their vibrant presence in your living spaces.

Of course, applying flower food is just one aspect of caring for your cut flowers. The vase plays a significant part as well. Aside from cleaning your vase with a bleach solution before putting in a new flower arrangement, replace the water every 1-3 days to prevent bacteria buildup. Thankfully, the Amaranth Vase makes this easy with its twist-drain-trim feature. Shop our collection.

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