various blooms in multicolour hues in glass vases across the image with a light blue background for what do you add to the water for cut flowers

DIY flower food for fresh-cut flowers

We’re often asked, what do you add to the water for cut flowers? We’ve got the answers here!

We’ve all been there. A beautiful vase of fresh-cut flowers that looks a day or two past their best. And no one wants that! So, if you’ve got droopy blooms and would love to extend their life a little longer, we have a few DIY flower food tips to share. 

The purpose of flower food

close up image of pink tulips in a glass vase with a homey kitchen in the background for what do you add to the water for cut flowers

The purpose of flower food is to help maintain your beautiful blooms for as long as possible. It does this by:

  • Minimising the growth of bacteria and fungi in the water.
  • Maintaining the water pH levels.
  • Providing nutrients to the flowers, in place of what they would have received while growing.

Of course, you may not always have access to commercially made flower food. So, what can you do in that situation? What do you add to the water for cut flowers to keep them fresher for longer? 

What Do You Add to the Water for Cut Flowers?

Believe it or not, you’ll likely have the ingredients needed to create some winning DIY flower foods from what you have in your bathroom, kitchen and laundry cupboards. 

Now most DIY-recipes tend to focus on either minimising bacterial growth or replacing nutrition, rather than working as a comprehensive flower-food. You may be pleasantly surprised though, by how effective some of the DIY recipes are. This is particularly true for the ones involving both a nutrient and an agent to inhibit bacterial growth. 

So here are some recommendations for DIY flower food that you can try today.


close up of a bunch of white aspirin on a blue background for what do you add to the water for cut flowers


  • 1 aspirin tablet.

Method: Crush the aspirin tablet between two teaspoons. Add to your vase water.

Why it works: Aspirin lowers the water’s pH level, which means the water can travel more easily through the flower stem, carrying nutrients. 

Sugar and white vinegar


  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 litre warm water

Method: Dissolve the sugar and vinegar into the warm water and mix. 

Why it works: The sugar provides nutrients to the cut flowers, while the vinegar inhibits growth of bacteria. This DIY recipe is said to work particularly well for roses, though it can be used for all our Seasonal Bunches too. 

Lemon, sugar and bleach


  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon bleach
  • 1 litre water

Method: Combine ingredients. 

Why it works: The lemon helps the stems to open up and better receive water and nutrients. The sugar provides nutrients to the cut flowers, while the bleach inhibits bacterial growth. 

Apple cider vinegar

image of apples and apple cider vinegar in a glass bottle on a wooden table with trees in the background


  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Method: Combine the vinegar and sugar and add to your vase-water.

Why it works: The sugar works to provide nutrients to your fresh-cut flowers, while the apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties. 

Clear soft drink

close up of two glasses of clear soft drink on a black background for what do you add to the water for cut flowers


  • ¼ cup of a clear soft drink like Sprite or lemonade 

Method: Pour directly into your vase water. 

Why it works: The sugar in the soft drink provides nutrients to your fresh-cut flowers. The citric acid also helps open the flowers’ stems to better carry water and nutrients.

Vodka and sugar


  • A few drops of vodka (or another clear spirit)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

Method: Add vodka and sugar to your vase water. Do the same each time you change your vase water. 

Why it works: The sugar provides nutrients to your flowers. The clear spirit is believed to slow down the flowers’ wilting by inhibiting ethylene production. 

Copper coin and sugar

This one’s a little problematic now that Australia has phased out copper coins! If you do have a 1c or 2c piece lying about, however, you could give this one a try.


  • One copper coin.
  • One sugar cube (or 1 teaspoon of sugar)

Method: Drop the coin and sugar cube into your vase-water.

Why it works: The copper is believed to prevent bacterial growth by acting as an ‘acidifier’ in the water. The sugar is for nutrients.


close up of a white bottle pouring out a clear liquid with the words bleach written on the bottle


  • ¼ teaspoon bleach
  • 1 litre vase-water

Method: Mix bleach in with vase-water.

Why it works: It will help to inhibit bacterial growth and keep the vase-water clear. 

Extra Tip – No Hairspray!

When it comes to what not to add to the water for cut flowers, leave the hairspray in your cupboard! It’s a myth that a spritz of hair spray will help maintain the freshness of your blooms. 

Get in Touch!

At The Flower Farm, we sow, grow, pick and arrange flowers on site in Birkdale, and also safely deliver them in our local Cleveland and Brisbane area. Pop by or give us a call. We’d love to help you find the perfect flowers for every occasion, from our Seasonal Bunches to stunning arrangements, or even something unique and bespoke!