Fresh is the key word to retaining repeat customers for flower arrangements. In addition to deterring people from buying flowers, wilted-too-soon flowers can hurt your profits and also reputation.
So what can you do to ensure your flowers stay fresher longer? Here are 33 quick but essential flower care and handling tips business-savvy floral professionals use. As a result of research carried out by Smithers-Oasis company FloraLife.
Cut flowers require TLC to not become fast-fading blooms.
What do you do once your flower order arrives? It will have a significant impact on how long they remain fresh.
How fast does freshness fade?
- Flowers begin to wilt and die the moment a bloom is cut. This is called senescence and means a flower’s cells no longer divide and grow.
- Before flowers end up in a fabulous wedding bouquet or event centrepiece. They travel from the farm to the supplier to you, the floral designer. As with people, travel and temperature variations can take a toll on flowers.
- Unless you take steps to preserve the vitality of a cut flower once it is in your care, it will fade and wilt. Possibly before you or your customer wants.
What you might not know about sanitising
- Always begin with a clean bucket, vase or container – For healthier flowers.
- Why sanitise? Because bacteria clogs stems and produces ethylene, both detrimental to flower health.
- Buckets should be washed after each use. FloraLife DCD (disinfectant, cleaner, deodoriser), designed specifically to clean all surfaces in flower preparation, is ideal for this.
- After scrubbing with DCD, there is no need to rinse. It leaves a protective coating that helps to keep surfaces clean longer.
The florist rule of thumb is that your flower buckets and containers should be clean enough for you to drink from.
- Place washed buckets upside down to dry or place them on a disinfected surface. Sitting clean bucket bottoms on an unsanitised floor and then stacking them when dry adds bacteria back into the buckets.
- Keep your work table and tools clean as well. Floral Cleaner Wipes can be helpful in these areas.
- When processing flowers, remove all foliage that will be below the water line. This prevents it from decaying in the water, which keeps the water cleaner and the stems flowing free.
Hydrate to pamper petals
- Temperature greatly affects the vase life of flowers. Lowering it reduces flower metabolism (respiration and transpiration). Also similar to hibernation in some mammals.
Store fresh flowers in a 1-3°C cooler with 80 – 90% relative humidity. Store tropical flowers at 12 – 15°C or room temperature.
- Use fresh cold water with flower food to rejuvenate travel stressed flowers.
- Want to keep flowers crisp and fresh? Pre-chill your filled buckets and flowers in the cooler. Before placing the blooms into the cold water (with flower food).
- Use water without added softeners. Sodium can decrease the life of some flowers.
Flowers are foodies too
- Cut flowers need proper nutrition.
- Which includes sugary drinks! Sugar is the carbohydrate energy source that keeps flowers fresher longer.
- A well-designed flower food includes sugar. Also acidifiers and stem unpluggers. Acidifiers lower water pH to increase water and nutrient uptake. Stem unpluggers are a special mix of ingredients that lower pH to help eliminate stem plugging.
- Contrary to what you might have read online, homemade solutions are not as effective as a complete flower food. Floralife® flower foods hydrate, nourish and promote optimal growth. Another benefit is a decrease in bent neck. Also increasing bud opening in many varieties. Above all always follow packet or label directions.
- Flower food is most beneficial at the correct concentration. The easiest way to always deliver the correct amount is with an automatic proportioner (or dosing unit).
- Give all flower stems a fresh cut before placing them into flower food solution. It helps ensure hydration.
- When flowers are quick-dipped and held in a properly mixed flower food solution, waterways inside the stems open to absorb more water.
Protecting designed flowers
Photo: Sharon McGukin
- Heat and sun dry out cut flowers. For outdoor events, always take steps to help the flowers beat the heat.
- If flowers must be placed in direct sun, cover them before the event with a lightweight light-coloured damp cloth that can be easily removed. This will help deflect burning rays and cool the flowers.
- Never use plastic, especially dark plastic. It can hold in heat and damage the flowers.
Above all be certain to hydrate fresh flowers on hot days in water with flower food added. This will help replenish food reserves lost through respiration.
- Fully saturate floral foam with flower-food-filled water in advance.
- For extra hydration, mist each design with an anti-transpirant when finished and again just before the event. Finishing Touch and Crowning Glory are popular choices.
- After misting fresh wedding bouquets, place them in sealed plastic bags before storing in the cooler.
Finishing Touch is a systemic hydrating treatment that helps nourish flowers that are continuing to open. It is absorbed through the leaves and petals and allows the flowers to breathe. It is best used with flowers that have a water source.
Crowning Glory is a topical hydrating treatment that helps to hold flowers in their current state of freshness. It contains a peptide with wax-like properties. Consequently holding in moisture. It is best for corsages and bouquets. Also flowers that have limited or no water source.