How to Make Your Own Flower Food

flowers sitting on a table

The Spruce

  • Total Time: 5 mins

When you've just received or purchased a bouquet of flowers, you'll want to get them in water and make sure they'll last as long as possible. But what happens when you didn't receive the flower food packet with your blooms? Don't worry—you can make your own flower food at home with just three super simple ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen and pantry.

What Flower Food Is Made of

A surprising fact about flower food is that it consists of just three main ingredients: citric acid, sugar, and bleach. The packet was designed to help flowers stay fresh longer, and each element has properties that are said to preserve flowers past their typical lifespan with plain water.

The citric acid lowers the pH in the water, which can make it more habitable for freshly cut flowers to thrive in. The sugar acts as the actual "food," since flowers produce and consume sugar in the process of photosynthesis, and once they're cut, they can no longer produce sugar. By adding sugar to the water, the flowers think they're still eating, which keeps them perky. Finally, the bleach acts as a disinfectant to the water and helps get rid of potentially harmful bacteria that could hinder the flowers' longevity.

If you're in a bind and need flower food ASAP, you can make your own in a few simple steps.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Measuring spoons
  • Pitcher


  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Bleach
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon or lime juice
  • 1 quart Lukewarm water


  1. Gather Your Materials

    Pre-measure your sugar, bleach, and lemon or lime juice.


    Adhere closely to the proper measurements and do not mix more than one batch of flower food at a time. Increasing or altering the measurements provided could result in a vapor that could irritate the eyes and sinuses. Dispose of any unused "flower food" by pouring it down the drain.

    flower food materials
  2. Add Water to Your Vase

    Pour the quart of water into your vase, and prepare to add in your flower food mixture.

  3. Mix Your Ingredients

    In a large bowl, mix the sugar, bleach, and lemon or lime juice together until the sugar looks nearly dissolved in the bleach and juice mixture. Stir the mixture gently and continously until the mix looks almost clear.

    mixing flower food ingredients
  4. Add the "Food" to Your Vase

    Add the homemade flower food to your vase, stir, and immediately add freshly cut flowers. Enjoy all week long (and hopefully longer!).

    adding flower food to vase

Flower food is a lot easier to make than you would think, and you might even have all the ingredients in your home already. With our recipe, you'll never see prematurely drooping blooms ever again. Here's to more days of coming home to a beautiful, fragrant bouquet!

You can extend the life of some flowers by removing them from the vase, making a new cut at the base of the stem and replacing them in the vase with fresh water.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Benzoni T, Hatcher JD. Bleach Toxicity. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.