Getting the most out of your flowers.

A few weeks ago we posted a blog on tulips and how to care for them. It’s definitely tulip season for another month or two, so if you need a recap, click here and have a read. By far the most asked question last year was, ‘How do I stop my tulips from drooping?’.

The second most asked question last year was - ‘Why were the flowers delivered without flower food?’.

I think it’s worth thinking for a minute about what flower food is used for. Its role is to try to extend the vase life of your bunch or bouquet. It was really fun researching some of the home made remedies that try to achieve this. Here’s a list of our favourites:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar + Sugar
  • Aspirin - honest!
  • Bleach
  • Coins
  • Flower Food
  • Fridge
  • Hairspray
  • Soft drinks
  • Vodka - Really!

If we had to pick one of these, the logical answer would be the fridge. Keeping flowers in a cool environment slows their ageing process.  This is how flowers manage to be transported across the globe.  They’re cooled quickly and stored at 4 degrees C for days and sometimes longer until they reach the supermarket shelves or the wholesaler if you’re a florist.

If you do choose to put the flowers in the fridge, make sure that there are no food products that will produce ammonia.  It speeds up ageing.  Fruit and veg are the top culprits for this.


Flower food that comes in sachets is a combination of:

  1. Bleach - to kill the bugs,
  2. Sugar - to feed the flowers,
  3. Citric Acid - to lower the pH of the water. Flowers like this slightly acidic environment.

Most of us have these things in our kitchen cupboards, so if you fancy a quick chemistry session, we suggest adding 1 teaspoon of bleach, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to 1 litre of water at room temperature.

This is all good and well, but your question was:

“Why did you send me flowers and not give me flower food?”

The reason is simple.  We never use it.  We bleach our vases and flower buckets before rinsing them thoroughly. We then keep flowers in clean fresh water and out of direct sunlight.

Cut flowers have a lifespan like any other natural form. When we cut or use flowers, we aim to get the most out of their natural habit. Tulips and garden roses will naturally have a shorter vase life than a Chrysanthemum. This is just how they are. The 3 things that in our experience greatly reduced the life of flowers are: heat, bacteria and ammonia from foods.

So here are our top tips for getting the most out of our flowers without using flower food.

  1. Make sure that your vase is thoroughly cleaned regularly to remove bacteria.  Our preference is to use bleach, however washing up liquid and hot water will work just as well.
  2. If you can, use a dark glass or ceramic vase. Sunlight speeds up the process of stem decay, so keeping the light out will keep your flowers healthier for longer.
  3. Make sure that the water in your vase doesn’t reach the lower leaves. Leaves rot quickly in water, producing bacteria. Removing a few leaves will not spoil your bunch or bouquet, so if you need to remove some to suit your vessel, do it.
  4. Change the water in the vase daily or every other day to keep it fresh and clean.
  5. If you notice that a stem has gone bad, remove it asap, clean the vase and change the water to limit the spread of any bacteria.
  6. Keep the flowers in a cool place and ideally away from direct sunlight. You need to enjoy your flowers, so if they are somewhere bright during the day, try to remember to move them to somewhere cool over night.

If all of this seems like hard work, then when you receive/buy flowers, receive them with a smile, pop them in a vase where you’ll enjoy them every day, and accept that cut flowers won’t last forever.

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