stephanotisSpring Bulb Flowers February 2010

Everything you need to know about these elegant, delicately perfumed blossoms.

common calls  Stephanotis floribunda (pronounced stef-a-NO-tis flor-i-BUN-da) is most often referred to in the U.S. by its botanical name, but its common names include Madagascar jasmine, floradora and waxflower.

what’s in the names  Steph-anotises derive their name from the Greek words stephanos, which means “crown,” and otos, which means “ear,” referring to the five lobes (auricles) that compose these flowers’ star-shaped faces (staminal crowns). The specific epithet floribunda means “many flowering,” a reference to the clusters in which these blossoms grow.

family matters  These elegant flowers belong to the Asclepiadaceae (milkweed) family, and close relatives, in addition to milkweed/butterfly weed (Asclepias), include wax plant (Hoya), Tweedia/Oxypetalum and Hoodia.

exotic appeal and origin  Bright white and waxy textured, these fragrant blossoms, which are native to Madagascar, have tubular bodies, 1 inch to 2 inches in length, with flared lobes resembling five-pointed stars. Their sweet scent is similar to jasmine (Jasminum) flowers, which along with their nativity, accounts for the common name Madagascar jasmine.

plan ahead  Stephanotises are available year-round, but they are most plentiful from late spring through early autumn. To ensure that you get the flowers you need, give your suppliers advance notice, especially if large quantities are required.

physical examination  When buying Stephanotises, look for florets that are bright white (they yellow with age), waxy and firm. Avoid blooms that exhibit signs of withering, wilting, bruising, yellowing, spotting or mold.

purchase options  Stephanotises are most commonly sold as cut florets, in airtight boxes, with 25 or 50 blossoms. Some growers, however, sell these flowers on their vines, which have shiny, dark green leaves.

moisture required  These flowers do not take up water after harvest, so they should always be stored in airtight containers lined with a source of moisture such as damp shredded tissue, to keep humidity levels high. Their need for moisture continues after the blooms are used in designs.

get soaked  Upon their arrival in your store, unpack Stephanotis blossoms, and float them in room-temperature water for 20 to 30 minutes. Then place them, still soaking, into the refrigerator for two hours at 42 F to 44 F.

chill can kill  After soaking, shake the florets delicately to remove water droplets, and place them loosely into airtight containers, storing them at 42 F to 44 F, until they are needed. Although Stephanotises are cold sensitive, they can be refrigerated at lower temperatures if their storage containers are wrapped in insulating material such as several sheets of newspaper.

one week, max  You can store these blossoms for up to a week, if the aforementioned temperature and humidity requirements are met.

anti-aging tips  For best results, float Stephanotises again in room-temperature water before using them in designs, and do not arrange them more than 24 hours prior to an event. Applying an antitranspirant or finishing spray after arranging these blooms, once they’re dry, can help prevent dehydration and yellowing.

handle with care  These delicate blooms require a gentle touch, and  some flower care experts recommend handling them with wet hands to prevent bruising.

down to the wire  Because Stephanotises have extremely short natural stems, wire stems are often added when preparing them for use in bouquets, corsages, headpieces and boutonnieres. Types of wire stems include pretaped cotton-tipped Stephanotis Stems; chenille stems; and thin-gauge hairpin-shaped wires, with tiny moistened balls of cotton placed in the crooks. All wiring methods require the removal of the natural stems and calyxes from the base of the blooms. Tape chenille stems and wire stems with stem wrap.

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