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The flower food experiment: Which works best?

Hello, hello!

Wasn't the weekend a hot one! I hope you were able to keep cool. I held my first Christmas Wreath Workshop in the sun room in the morning-arvo and afterwards I spent the whooole day in that room because it's the only room that has air con. I'm such a Winter/Autumn gal.. just a few months and I'll be back in my element haha.

This is the final One Design Posy for the year! I can hardly believe I'm saying this. How did we get to December!?! I won't be doing these again until Feb or March 2021 but I'll definitely let you know when they're back :). If you'd like a sweet posy, you can order one here.


This week's #APRflowerEd post I thought would be a fun one to do and is a little nod to an experiment I had to do for Floristry School and also a nod to Primary/High School days when we had to conduct science experiments like this. Now flower food or floral preservative is an interesting topic as we were taught that it isn't something you really need and I haven't felt the need really to use it in my business. Just a clean vase, fresh water, (maybe a drop of bleach) and to change the water and snip the stems every couple of days or so was what was drummed into us. Some flowers like preservative and others don't and that's a whole other element in itself. But I thought I'd conduct an experiment to see if floral preservative helps or not and which one works best... so here are my findings :)


Is floral preservative necessary and which works best?


  • Five clean vases

  • Bleach

  • Liquid floral preservative

  • Sachet floral preservative

  • Five of one flower type ~ I used Peonies

  • Home-made preservative: I used this recipe from Justine Celine - 2 Tsp lime juice, 1 Tsp sugar, 1 Tsp Bleach & 4 cups of water.

  • Water

  • Teaspoon

  • Post it notes

  • Pen


I set up five different (clean) vases each with a different form of preservative. One with a drop of bleach; one with liquid floral preservative; one with sachet floral preservative; one without any solution (aka the control group); and one with a homemade recipe. Five stems of Peonies were used and each cut on a 45 degree angle before being place in a vase. I put them in a cool spot in the house and left them there to do their own thing over time. I also labelled the vases so I could keep track of which is which. Nothing was done to them during any of the days except when a Peony head wilted and I snipped it off so as not to affect the other flowers. I took a picture each day to document its progress and took videos on a couple of days.


I think that the flowers with the liquid or sachet floral preservative will work best as they are specially formulated to extend the life of flowers and it has been shared across many flower books and blog posts that Peonies (the flowers that I've chosen to use) like floral preservative.


It was a tie between the bleach with water and the control group (Peony which had nothing done to it) for a long time. The control group quite quickly became translucent as it matured and it seemed to me that it would wilt quicker. The drop of bleach and water solution, looked strong in colour and shape for much longer until the day it just randomly wilted and dropped its petals. In the end, surprisingly, the control group lasted the longest. On its very last day, the petals were feeling a lot softer as though it were on its last legs.


I should mention that the flowers were one day old when I started the experiment and so they really lasted a day longer than reported above. And also beyond that as you can see in the first pics that they are already somewhat open. I don't think this one experiment is enough to go off, I'm going to do it again with some other flower types for many reasons, which I'll now list. Once I put the flowers in their vase with its solution, I didn't touch them, so no snipping the stems and I also didn't change the water. The flowers were kept out of sun but weren't in the coolest room. I could've put the wrong amount in each vase ~ either too much or too little for the amount of water being used and the amount of flowers. These particular Peonies may not actually like flower food. I will have to test this same experiment with other flower types so flower food shouldn't be ruled out for these reasons. What is good about what I've mentioned above, is this experiment has shown a probably more realistic view of what happens in most people's homes. Not everyone is going to change the water and snip the stems and make sure their flowers are in the ideal location and so there's that. I was surprised that the control group (peony with no treatment) lasted the longest.

Day 1

They're more mature at this stage rather than being in bud form but there's still some unfurling to do.

Day 2

Not much going on but they've opened up a bit more.

Day 3

Look how huge they're opening!

Day 4

Not much happening but you can see that the homemade flower food Peony (Peony 1) looks as thought it's further along maturation than the others and the buds are starting to open too!

Day 5

Flower food sachet (Peony 5) was the first to go! Peony 3 (Control group) bud has opened a lot more than the others.

Day 6

It's game over for Peony 4 (liquid flower food) and Peony 5 (sachet flower food) has started to drop a little at the back.

Day 7

Next to go is the homemade flower food (Peony 1) and liquid flower food (Peony 4). I'm thinking another experiment could be to find the best homemade flower food recipe.

Day 8

I ended up snipping off the sachet flower food (Peony 5) . The bleach and water started to drop some petals and nothing yet from the control group but the leaves in the back started to drop down and go soft and limp.

Day 9

Aside from the buds which I kept, the control group (the Peony with no treatment, just good ol' water) remained. I ended up snipping the heads off all the others as there was nothing salvageable and one touch and petals just dropped. A couple of Petals fell off the one below (Peony 3 aka Control Group) but not much and you can see here that it's on its last legs. The experiment was conducted until day 9 but as I mentioned earlier, I bought them a day before the experiment and they were already starting to open. To get longer shelf life, you really want to buy them when they're no so open. In fact you can read more about Peonies in particular, here.

The buds were still maturing and so instead of throwing them away, I snipped all the wilted heads off and made sure they were kept in water to keep maturing until the end of the experiment.

This is what I did with the buds at the end of the experiment... hung them upside down to dry.

Here's a little viddy

I have my second last workshop on this week, I'm so excited! I hope you have a fabulous rest of the week!

xo rose

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