Processing flowers for maximum vase life
Care and handling flowers can be incredibly stressful and there is lots of misinformation floating around. I try to avoid anecdotal advice when it comes to caring and handling as I have expensive taste in flowers and I want them to live as long as possible. Today I am sharing what I recently learned after attending a conference where Chrysal’s head of educational resources presented. Another for care and handling information is Mayesh's Flower Library which has instructions for every flower they sell. This is especially great for new varieties that come on to the market that you may be unfamiliar with.
When I started in the flower business in 2001, I was taught that room temperature water or warm water helped flowers hydrate more quickly and helped them to open. Apparently, this information actually mostly benefited the flower chemical companies as the active ingredient in their product required warm water to work properly. Yikes! In reality, warm water is a breeding ground for bacteria that is harmful to flowers and shortens their life span. The newest research is clear that the best temperature for flowers in all stages of handling is clean, cold water. If you are trying to get something to open for a wedding and are tempted to use warmer water, instead research products that will force blooms to open instead of using water.
Often when you pick up your flowers or receive them as a shipment, you begin processing them. This process typically involves removing all unwanted leaves and thorns so that your flowers will drink more quickly. Instead, the latest research says the opposite — leave all the leaves on when initially hydrating to get the flower properly hydrated the fastest! This is crazy, right? If you have been around for any length of time, you were likely taught to rip off all the leaves on your flowers so the water would get to the flower head faster. We won’t get into the lengthy explanation of stomata and vascular systems of a plant, but this new information has proven that this method works the best. So what should you do instead? Only remove what is below the water line to prevent bacteria from forming in the water and leave the rest of the leaves on for at least an hour (possibly longer if your flowers are particularly dehydrated). After the flowers have truly hydrated in a good hydrating solution for at least an hour, then you can remove extra leaves.
Speed of Transfer
Just like a fish out of water, a cut flower can only “breathe” for a short time out of the water. This fact is common knowledge, but you might not know that as soon as a flower is cut, most of its energy is redirected towards healing itself and closing off the cut to prevent bacteria from entering and moisture from leaving. This is a wonderful mechanism for a cut flower to have but it can also limit its ability to hydrate. When you are processing or designing, don’t get distracted by a phone call or conversation. Once you make a fresh cut, get your flowers immediately into the water and if needed, cut them again to ensure proper hydration!