Homemade Flower Food


I used to make my own flower food all the time, but haven’t lately–out of some combination of forgetfulness and laziness. I was reminded of it the other day when I was watching the Martha Stewart show and she was making a vat of flower food. Okay, not a vat exactly, but she was making two gallon batches and demonstrating how she stores it in a water cooler for convenient dispensing.

I was thinking I hope she has that labelled! Because it looks like water and her recipe uses bleach.

I’ve never made vats of flower food–it’s not really necessary. It’s so simple and quick to make as needed–if you aren’t being forgetful and lazy. With cutting flower season in full swing, both for wildflowers and garden-grown, it’s a good time to develop the habit of keeping your cut flowers fresh so they last longer.

I’m not sure why I watch Martha Stewart sometimes, by the way. She’s mildly addicting, in a bizarre way. I mean, who would do the stuff she does? Then I looked at my kitchen–I have a big pot of fresh milk ready to start some cheddar. A wheel of cheddar waiting on the counter to be waxed. The steam juicer (I’m in love with this thing!) just pumped out six quarts of apricot juice I’m going to turn into jelly, syrup, glazes, and sauces. There’s a couple dozen fresh eggs in a basket waiting to be washed. Maybe those of us who do those sorts of things have something in common with Martha, after all. We’re just a little more practical about it.

Well, if you call six quarts of apricot juice practical. I hope everybody on my Christmas list doesn’t mind getting apricot jelly this year.

Anyway! Back to flower power!

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How to make Homemade Flower Food:

Per quart of water

2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons of one of the following–lemon juice, or vinegar

Stir to mix well and dissolve sugar then pour into the vase, or mix it straight in the container where you’ll be placing the flowers. You can measure to be exact, or just eyeball it. If your vase is smaller or larger, adjust your quantities to match.

My favorite new (old) flower vase–a vintage half-gallon blue Ball Mason jar.

The sugar is the food for the flowers. The lemon juice or vinegar is used to keep the flower water fresh and free of bacteria. An old-fashioned method for keeping flowers fresh was to drop a copper penny in the water. (Copper is a fungicide.) People also used to (and sometimes still do) drop an aspirin in the water for the same reason. I like to use a little lemon juice and vinegar. The point is to add something anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and/or acidic to the water to keep it fresh. Use whatever you have on-hand. I’ve even heard of people using lime soda. You could also use citric acid crystals. Whatever you have!

By the way, Martha uses corn syrup instead of sugar. (Plain sugar is cheaper.)

A few more tips for keeping flowers fresh longer:

Put flowers in cold water, not warm. Also, be sure to remove all the excess foliage below the water line to reduce the risk of rotting foliage in the water. If the vase water gets cloudy, replace it with fresh flower food water. If you got your flowers from the store, be sure to give them a fresh cut, at an angle, when you get them home, and cut them under water.

So get your flower power on. But if you make a vat of this like Martha and use bleach, promise me you’ll label it!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on June 24, 2010  

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18 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 6-24

    That Blue Ball Mason Jar is wonderful! I’ve always just used an aspirin but will definitely be trying this flower food recipe.

  2. 6-24

    Thanks for a simple recipe for cut flowers. I will be using it too.

    I used to watch Martha……and finally got a little tired of all that stuff “she” was doing. This lady is running corporations….I don’t believe she is actually doing too much gardening or crafting.
    Then there was her Chicken House; that was the final straw!

  3. 6-24

    I’d love some apricot jelly for Christmas! Thanks for thinking of me, Suzanne!!!

  4. 6-24

    I love Martha’s chickens :-)

    I liked her old show much better than the talk show, which I gave up on. The old one was a Zen experience, so calming. In the new one “celebrities” chatter away yak yak yak so you can hardly hear what’s going on in the projects.

  5. 6-24

    Of course Martha would make a vat! :lol: It is fun to watch Martha and figure out how to do her things the practical way, though ;)

    I’ve never thought of using vinegar though. Thanks! I’ve replaced most things with vinegar, why not flower food!?!?

  6. 6-24

    I could definitely use this, I’m so glad you posted! It’s too late for my vase full of roses but the next flowers I bring in should hopefully last longer:)

  7. 6-24

    This is super helpful, thanks!

    One question: Why is it ok to use vinegar? I could swear my mother once used vinegar to kill some plants (on purpose).

  8. 6-24

    :sun: I with you on Martha, not always so practical. great tips thank you

  9. 6-24

    sirje, did she use a Lot of vinegar? And maybe not dilute it? I figure bleach would also kill plants if it was applied directly and not diluted. Diluted to this degree, it just keeps the water clean.

  10. 6-24

    My mom made humming bird nectar & put it in a jug in the fridge. My sister thought it was juice/kool-aid, so she gave some to my nephew to drink & he said “Mom, this stuff tastes funny”. It was so funny! At least it was just hummingbird food & didn’t hurt him lol.

  11. 6-24

    Dear Suzanne,

    I do believe that Martha’s staff….may get paid a little more than cookie crumbles, left-over cornbread and chicken scratch….

    But your staff is definitely a practical other story!…

    They love you so much that they want to be near you in the “hanging basket watch tower”…”pace the porch for the little crawling varmits”…and don’t forget the fun of “chasing the “old mean rooster” around with the rake!….How could her life even be close to the fun you’ve had in comparison…plus you did the research not a highly paid staff.. Yours love you so much that they work for “chicken feed”! LOL
    Love the post….I had her flower extender recipe but never heard of using the citric acid crystals…and I had forgotten about Granny putting in the copper penny…I remember finding stuck pennys in Grannys old flower vases, now I remember why they were there!

  12. 6-24

    Would like to know where you got the juicer?Would it work on berries as well? Love your articles!!!

  13. 6-24

    The juicer came from Amazon. Yes, it would work for berries, too!

  14. 6-24

    I’d be wary of getting vinegar and bleach anywhere near each other!


    I know, Safety Officer. But still.

    Also, do you have any idea what those pretty little wildflowers are called? We have them too, look!


  15. 6-26

    Geez – I thought this was for growing flowers. Thankfully I read on to learn this is for cut flowers. I’ve heard that using a can of 7up works well also.

  16. 6-27

    Gah! Of course. Makes sense. She did indeed use full-strength vinegar.

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