Your Care and Handling IQ?
The growth of flower-stem-plugging bacteria can be reduced by cleaning
flower buckets, cutting tools, workbenches and countertops, and coolers
professional cleaner/disinfectant made specifically for use in
flower shops (Chrysal Professional Cleaner, Floralife® D.C.D.®
Cleaner, Syndicate Sales Fresh-n-Clean®)
solution of one part chlorine bleach and 10 parts water
household sanitizing spray (Clorox®, Fantastik®, Lysol®, etc.
disinfecting/antibacterial wipes (Clorox®, Lysol®, etc.)
of the above
of the products/solutions mentioned will kill bacteria; however, the
professional cleaners made specifically for use in flower shops are,
perhaps, the most effective and easiest to use. Flower buckets and
other containers must be sanitized between every use, and cutting
tools and work surfaces should be cleaned at least once daily. The
important points are to clean buckets, tools and surfaces regularly
and thoroughly and to rinse buckets well after cleaning and allow
them to air dry before stacking.
2. When flowers arrive in your store, you should immediately check the
temperature inside the boxes or the temperature of the water in wet
packs with a needle thermometer. The temperature should be no higher
If temperatures are higher
than 40 F, inspect the flowers carefully for insects, Botrytis,
wilted blooms or leaves, yellow leaves, and bloom or leaf drop. If
you find any of these conditions, contact the supplier immediately.
3. If you cannot unpack flowers immediately upon their arrival in your
shop, you should:
the boxes and leave them at room temperature
the boxes unopened in a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F
It is crucial that flowers be processed immediately upon their
arrival in your shop; however, if it absolutely is not possible, the
flowers should be refrigerated until they are processed.
4. As you process flowers, it is best to remove all sleeves and
You may leave sleeves on flower bunches for a few hours to prevent
damage to the blooms or to help straighten stems, but you must
remove them eventually to promote air circulation among the blooms
5. To remove dried-out stem ends as well as dirt, debris and microbes
in the stem cells, how much of the stems should you cut off?
inch to 1 inch
between 1 inch and 3 inches
Dried-out stem ends and stem-plugging dirt and microorganisms are
generally confined to the first 1 inch to 3 inches of the stem ends.
Make the cuts under clean water or in air, with a clean, sharp knife
or pruner. If you cut flowers under water, you should change the
water (or, preferably, the flower-food solution) frequently because
the removed stem ends can quickly contaminate the water or solution.
Otherwise, it is more beneficial to cut flower stems in air.
inches or more
6. The difference between hydration solutions and flower foods is:
hydration solutions do not contain a nutrient (sugar)
flower foods do not contain a wetting agent to accelerate water
A and B
In addition to
bactericides, which control microbial growth, and acidifiers, which
lower the solution pH, hydration solutions contain a wetting agent,
to accelerate water uptake, and flower foods contain a nutrient
of the above
7. Mixing flower-food solutions to the proper concentrations is really
not too important; it is simply a ploy by the manufacturers to sell more
If not mixed to proper concentrations, flower foods can actually
decrease flowers’ vase live. Both too much and too little are
harmful. It’s also important that, for most flowers (except bulb
flowers, for example), flower foods be mixed with lukewarm (100 F to
110 F) water.
8. Why is it important to use bulb-flower-specific flower foods with
cut bulb flowers?
flower foods contain plant hormones to replace those that bulb
flowers lose when they’re harvested.
flower foods have less sugar than standard flower foods, and sugar
can aggravate leaf yellowing in bulb flowers.
A and B
When they are cut from
their bulbs (their food-storage organs), bulb flowers experience
hormone imbalances that cause premature leaf yellowing, non-opening
blooms, loss of color and reduced vase lives. Bulb-flower-specific
nutrient solutions (e.g., Chrysal Clear Professional Bulb T-Bag™ and
Floralife® Bulb Flower Food) contain—in addition to the ingredients
found in standard flower-food solutions—naturally occurring plant
hormones (or plant growth regulators, PRGs), and they have a lower
concentration of sugar, which can aggravate leaf yellowing. These
solutions should be prepared with nonfluoridated water.
of the above
9. Some bulb flowers do not benefit greatly from the nutrients in
flower foods, so it’s not necessary to place these flowers into
While laboratory studies show that some bulb flowers (tulips,
daffodils, Irises, Agapanthuses, Anemones and callas) may not
benefit from the nutrients in flower-food solutions, they do benefit
from the bactericides contained within; therefore, flower foods
always should be used with these flowers, particularly
bulb-flower-specific flower foods.
10. Many flower care authorities recommend placing bulb flowers into
cold flower-food solutions.
Flower-food solutions made
with cold water help prevent bulb flowers from opening too quickly.
11. All species of Narcissi (daffodils, paper-whites, etc.) should be
isolated from other bulb flowers for a time following processing.
When cut, Narcissi exude a gelatinous substance that is detrimental
to the vase life of some other flowers, especially tulips and
Anemones. Keep them in separate containers for several hours after
cutting them. After that time, the harmful sap will have leached,
and the flowers can be arranged or placed with other flowers, even
if recut again.
12. Most flowers (except tropical flowers and some bulb flowers) should
be placed into a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F immediately after
processing rather than left out at room temperature to hydrate.
Research shows that maintaining most flowers (except for tropical
flowers, paper-whites and amaryllises) at 33 F to 35 F is crucial to
extending vase life. The flowers will hydrate in the cooler, and
they should be placed there for at least two hours before designing
with or selling them.
13. Most tropical flowers should be stored at what temperatures?
to 49 F
to 55 F
Most true tropical flowers, including birds-of-paradise, gingers,
Anthuriums, Heliconias and some orchids, require storage
temperatures between 50 F and 55 F. Temperatures lower than 50 F can
cause chill damage. If these refrigeration requirements can’t be
met, the flowers should be stored outside the cooler, at room
14. Except for design time, you should always keep flowers refrigerated
until sold or delivered.
Keeping flowers cold slows their respiration (moisture loss); helps
them maintain their carbohydrate reserves, their fuel for vase life;
and decreases their sensitivity to ethylene.
15. You should check your cooler temperature every two days.
Many flower care authorities suggest checking the temperature in
your cooler twice daily. The best method is to place a thermometer
in a container of water that sits in the cooler. Keep your cooler
set to maintain bucket solutions in the 33 F to 35 F range.
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