product FRESH FLOWER
Tips for getting the longest life from this
wonderfully fragrant but delicate wedding favorite.
Gardenias (G. jasminoides) are among the most fragrant of all
flowers. Commonly known as “Cape jasmine,” Gardenias are not a
jasmine (Jasminum) at all. Instead, they are a member of the
Rubiaceae family, which also includes Bouvardia, coffee (Coffea)
The genus Gardenia was named for Dr. Alexander Garden
(1730-1791), a Scottish physician and botanist who lived in Charleston,
S.C. G jasminoides is native to China and tropical Asia.
sell/smell all year
Gardenias are available year-round from domestic growers. These
flowers can take 30 days or longer to bloom in the winter, so supply can
be more limited from December through March. Ordering them in advance is
the best way to ensure availability
making the grades
Depending on grower and market, Gardenias are sold in various
grades, or qualities, and are packaged and priced accordingly.
“Premium,” “Perfect” or “First-Quality” blossoms are the
largest, whitest and least blemished blooms. The center petals are often
sealed with wax and have either fresh leaf or plastic leaf support
collars. These top-grade Gardenias are sealed in boxes, with
three, six or 12 blossoms per box.
“Work Gardenias,” or “Seconds,” are usually smaller,
might be more open, and may have small blemishes or uneven petals. These
No. 2 grade flowers are also waxed, may have plastic collars and are
sold in flats of 12 or 25.
No. 3 grade Gardenias, sometimes called “funeral Gardenias,”
are generally the smallest, most open and most blemished blossoms. When
available, they are sold without any protective wax or support collars
and in flats of 50 or 100.
buy the way
Purchase cut Gardenias when the outer petals are open and the
center petals are closed. Blooms should be bright white, perhaps even
with a greenish hue, and with no browning, blemishes or wrinkles. If
protective wax has been applied, ensure that the wax is not peeling away
from the petals.
Gardenias do not take up water after they’re cut, so hydration
and flower-food solutions aren’t necessary. Instead, spray these flowers
with a flower antitranspirant, keep them sealed in their shipping boxes
or air-tight bags, and store them in a floral cooler at 32 F to 35 F,
with high humidity (90 percent to 95 percent) until you’re ready to use
them. An air-tight, humid environment is important.
cover their faces
It can be helpful to cover these blooms with wet cotton or facial tissue
and wrap the shipping boxes in plastic. When preparing to use Gardenias,
break down the sides of the boxes, so you can remove the flowers easily.
Gardenias will start to turn a creamy yellow hue when left at
room temperature and/or exposed to air. These delicate flowers also
bruise easily when touched (a reaction to the acids and oils on people’s
To slow yellowing and prevent
bruising, spray Gardenias with a solution of 90 percent water and
10 percent lemon juice prior to use; keep the blooms covered with wet
cotton or facial tissue while working with them; and keep your hands
wet, touching the flowers as little as possible—and only the backs of
the flowers, if possible.
Once a design is complete, keep the Gardenias covered,
sealed and refrigerated, if possible, until the design is used.
You can lightly touch up bruises or blemishes on Gardenias with white or
ivory floral spray paint on a cotton swab, typing correction fluid or
even baby powder.
in the know
Let customers know what to expect with Gardenias: a strong
fragrance, bruising and yellowing, and a relatively short life. By
starting with the freshest blooms and educating consumers, everyone can
have great success with Gardenias.
Photos courtesy of California Cut Flower Commission;
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