Dec 07 research update.qxd

Commercial Flower Food vs. Homemade Recipes
Research Background
Maintaining biological functions of both flowers and leaves at the proper level is important to
obtaining a good vase life for fresh cut flowers. To enable fresh cut flowers to open and stay alivethey need a continuous supply of energy and water, along with free-flowing vessels inside the stems that transport these materials. Properly formulated fresh flower foods provide thesenecessary conditions and improve the postharvest life of cut flowers. There are various “home-made”recipes you will hear about from your aunt or neighbor, or see in your local newspaper, which are supposed to extend vase life of fresh cut flowers.The effectiveness of these recipes, however, has generally not been proven with proper scientific testing.
An experiment was conducted at the Floralife Laboratory in Walterboro, SC to compare the
effectiveness of commercial flower food formulations and several homemade recipes. The
following formulations were tested in the study.
1. Water (control)
2. Floralife Flower Food
3. Commercial Flower Food Brand “X”
4. Homemade Recipe I - (Sugar – 10g/ L, Bleach – one tsp/L and Lime Juice one tsp/L)
5. Homemade Recipe II - 7-Up® and Water (1:1 volume)
6. Homemade Recipe III - 7-Up® and Water (1:4 volume)
7. Homemade Recipe IV - (Bleach – one teaspoon/L)
8. Homemade Recipe V - (One Aspirin tablet/L)
Anil Ranwala, PhD.
Roses (variety ‘Charlotte’), yellow gerberas and chrysanthemum (variety ‘Cushion True’) were tested Chief Scien
HA in the study.The ends of the flower stems were recut,any leaves thatwould be below the water
level were removed and stems were placed in one liter glass vases containing the different testsolutions.The flowers were held in an interior evaluation room (68 - 70˚ F, 12 hrs. of light) to monitor vase life performance. There were three replicate vases for each treatment.
ER COLO The following graph shows the vase life of flowers (number of days) with differenttreatments.
I - Sugar/bleach/lime juice
IV - Bleach
Floralife® Flower Food
II - 7-Up/water (1:1)
V - Aspirin
Flower Food Brand ‘X’
III - 7-Up/water (1:4)
For further information on the Research Update, contact Anil Ranwala at
Postharvest Care and Handling information can be obtained at or e-mail:

Photos of Flowers on day 9 Vase Life

Commercial flower food formulations (Floralife® and another brand) outperformed (in terms of vase
ER COLO life and quality) all the homemade recipes for all the flower types tested.Some homemade recipes
performed even more poorly than water. The data shows the risk of using homemade recipes with TY cutflowers instead of commercially formulated and tested flower food.
For further information on the Research Update, contact Anil Ranwala at
Postharvest Care and Handling information can be obtained at or e-mail:


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