Millions of people celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers, and AFE has some expert industry tips to keep blooms looking radiant for as long as possible.
“Displaying roses appropriately on Valentine’s Day means less product loss and more happy consumers who hopefully become repeat customers,” said Terril Nell, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of Florida and AFE’s Research Coordinator, who along with Ria T. Leonard has coauthored more than a dozen AFE research reports outlining best practices for the retail display of fresh-cut roses and other flowers.
Tips for Retail Florists
Customers want quality flowers that last a week or more. In order to achieve that, flowers must be handled properly. Sanitation of storage buckets, coolers, vases and work surfaces is critically important to keep florists’ shops as immaculate as possible.
In past AFE research, The University of Florida Floral Postharvest Team demonstrated that a clean environment is essential for ensuring the quality and longevity of fresh cut flowers. Flowers processed and stored in a clean environment reduce the proliferation and spread of microbes.
It is also imperative to use freshly made hydration and flower food solutions. Old solutions tend to have a high concentration of microbes, which clog the flower stem opening, restricting the flower’s ability to uptake the solution. The flower will die prematurely if it cannot uptake the solution, so never re-use solutions.
Cleanliness Guidelines for a spotless flower shop:
- Wash hands often
- Sterilize all cutting tools
- Do not cut stems underwater. Cut stems dry and immediately place into clean, properly mixedflower food solutions
- Keep buckets and coolers clean
- Remove any dead or diseased flower parts
- Use freshly made solutions
Keeping flowers cold is one of the most important factors prolonging flower quality and vase life. Floral display coolers allow consumers to browse while simultaneously keeping flowers at the proper temperature needed to enhance vase life. Florists should display roses in florist coolers at no more than 42 degrees Fahrenheit for one to two days. Temperatures of 35 degrees should be used if flowers will be stored more than two days.
Last but not least, always provide flower food to customers and make sure they know how to accurately mix it. Your customers will notice the difference in how great their flowers look!
“Research has shown time and time again that vase life will often double if flowers are maintained in flower food compared to just plain water at the consumer level,” Nell said. “Flower food accelerates water uptake, reduces microbial growth and gives flowers the sugars they require to open.”
Reminding customers to recut the flowers’ stems after purchase if they are not in an arrangement can also help keep their flowers fresh.
Tips for Growers
At farm level (as well as all other levels of the supply chain), it is essential to keep flowers free from ethylene damage, which can cause your Valentine’s Day roses to wilt, drop petals and leaves or yellow. Nell suggests growers use an anti-ethylene treatment like Silver Thiosulfate, EthylBloc or Ethylene Buster to protect flowers from ethylene damage.
Growers must also hydrate flowers with quality commercial hydration solutions and maintain appropriate temperatures.
Tips for Wholesalers
For healthy roses, Nell said wholesalers should keep roses at 35 degrees and use commercial hydration solutions.
“And it should go without saying, but wholesalers should always follow the first-in, first-out method with their inventory,” he said. “It really is important to pay close attention to that.”
Following these important tips will help keep your satisfied customers coming back for more.