PROBLEM SOLVED

Lori,

Flowering branches are coming on the market again. I love them, but I’m sometimes having trouble getting the buds to open before they shrivel and fall off. What am I doing wrong?

~ Sandy, from Illinois

Hi Sandy,

If blooming branches are harvested at the right stage and they receive the proper care in your shop, they’re fairly easy to bring into bloom indoors. Here are a few tips.

  1. Whether you buy blooming branches from your favorite supplier or cut them yourself, make sure the buds are in the “plump” stage of development. They can even be starting to show color or open, but avoid purchasing branches with fully open blooms because they can become damaged during shipping and they won’t last as long. Watch out for shriveled buds or bark, which can indicate dehydration that might not be able to be reversed.
  1. Unpack the bunches and remove bindings immediately upon their arrival in your store.
  1. Cut at least 1 inch from each stem, and dip or place the stems into a hydration solution:

Note: Contrary to prevalent advice that’s still being given, do NOT mash, smash or split woody branch stem ends or strip the bark from the lower ends of the stems; this actually inhibits water uptake because it damages the stems and water-conducting vessels (xylem) in the branches.

  1. After the hydration solution treatment, place the stems into a clean bucket containing a properly proportioned fresh flower-food solution made with water that is room temperature to lukewarm.

Notes:

  • Blooming branches will respond to a drink of 1 percent ethyl alcohol (ethanol) — such as found in grain alcohol, vodka and gin — added to their cut flower-food solution; however, it’s difficult to know exactly how much to add to achieve the 1 percent concentration, so I recommend forgoing this additive!
  • Mixing a small amount of additional sugar with the flower-food solution also will assist with bud development; however, additional sugar will increase the growth of bacteria in the solution, so keep branches in any sugar-fortified solution for only 12 hours, then recut the stems and place them back into regular properly proportioned flower-food solution.
  1. Recut the stems at least every other day to keep them open and the nutrient solution flowing.
  1. Store the branches in a brightly lit, warm, humid area until they reach the desired stage of development. Then store them in a floral refrigerator at 34 F to 38 F.

Note: You can increase humidity levels by covering the branches and container with a clear or translucent plastic bag or misting the branches once or twice a day.

Proper care is key to get the maximum performance from flowering branches. By following these tips, you — and your customers — should be able to enjoy these springtime wonders to their fullest.

~ Lori

Ask you suppliers about these and other popular flowering branches:

  • Prunus (flowering cherry, plum, apricot, peach, nectarine and almond)
  • Forsythia (golden bells)
  • Flowering quince (Chaenomeles)
  • Spiraea (bridal wreath)
  • Apple / Crabapple (Malus)
  • Pear (Pyrus)
  • Pussy willow (Salix)
  • Redbud (Cercis)
  • Flowering dogwood 
(Cornus)
  • Honeysuckle 
(Lonicera)

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