The difference between good flowers and great flowers in your shop

The Basics

Flower Food, what's it all about?

As a professional florist you strive to provide your retail customers with the finest, freshest flowers available. However simply purchasing the freshest cut flowers you can is not enough, the treatment those flowers receive upon arrival at your flower shop will play a key part in determining their longevity and the enjoyment your customers will receive from them. This is the important role proper fresh flower post harvest care plays in a flowers journey from farm to consumer.

Once flowers are cut/harvested at the farm level they are deprived of the water, and food and growth regulators naturally supplied by their mother plant. To ensure that the flowers continue to develop in the way nature intended, we have to continue to supply the flowers with nutrients dissolved in water every time the flowers are hydrated at the grower, wholesaler, retailer or in the vase of the consumer. A quality cut flower food contains all the necessary ingredients for the natural development of stems, leaves and flower petals, as well as for size, color and scent.

So how do fresh flower foods work?
It's actually pretty basic, generally they contain a number of key ingredients whose ratios will vary depending on what stage the flowers are in (grower, wholesaler, retailer), these ingredients include

Nutritional source -Plants produce sugar through photosynthesis from water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight. When a flower is cut from the plant, photosynthesis is no longer an option for the production of sugar. For the flower to continue to develop, this nutritional source must be replaced, that's where flower food comes in.

Hydration -Flower food helps lower the pH which keeps the water and food moving the way nature intended.  A quality flower food includes an agent to lower the pH of the solution which encourages hydration, keeping the tiny tubes, or vessels, in the stem continually drawing up water.

Stem Unplugger -From grower to end consumer in the transport chain, a flower is exposed numerous times to debris which can clog the stems, resulting in the reduction of ability to take up water and nutrients. This blockage can easily shorten the life of a flower and result in a higher percentage of waste in a flower shop, or equally as bad an unhappy customer. Flower food includes a special ingredient to keep the water uptake flowing.

So what type of flower food should you use in your flower shop?
There is no "one size fits all" flower food for a retail flower shop environment.

To properly care for your cut flowers you will require at two types of flower food, the first is only for use in your cooler (typically referred to as a "holding" or "storage" flower food solution). This type of solution is designed to provide your flowers the key ingredients they require while in "storage".
An ideal product for this stage is Chrysal Professional 2, liquid or T-Bags both are specially formulated for a flower shop cooler. The choice is simply one of individual preference as the only difference between the products is the actual method of delivery (measuring Chrysal Professional 2 T Bagliquid or dropping a T-Bag into water). The bottom line however is use a product designed for the right stage of a flowers life. After all, you don't want to overfeed flowers and have your roses opening before you sell them, that should be saved for the customers enjoyment. 

The other type of flower food you will require is one that will go home with your customers flower purchase, generally referred to as a "vase or floral foam" solution. This type of flower Chrysal Professional 3 Powderfood is designed for flowers outside of a cooler where continuing the growth cycle rather than storage is the mission. This is when you (and your customer) want the flowers to bloom and open. So these foods are specifically engineered to do just that, they contain a higher percentage of "food" (sugar for nutrition) than your "holding" solutions do.

There are two distinct forms of flower food in this category, one for use "in-shop" when you are preparing the flowers for sale and delivery, and one use "in-home" by your customer for when they change the water. The formulas are virtually the same, only the packaging differs, in your shop you require the saving and convenience of a bulk flower food, your customer needs the convenience of a pre-measured envelope.

When preparing your flowers in your flower shop for resale, in a vase or arranged, this is the last step before they leave your shop to be enjoyed by the end user. So this is the point where you need to transfer them from a "holding" to an "in-shop" flower food solution specifically designed to kick start and promote their further growth. This is when a flower food solution such as Chrysal Professional 3 is perfect. Available in a liquid concentrate in 1 Gallon or 5 gallon jugs, or in a powder 30 lb pail, the choice is yours. Like all Chrysal products they are formulated to provide all the essential nutrients to ensure your flowers look their best in your customers home or office. Chrysal Professional 3 will help awaken your flowers so they look their very best for their journey into the world outside your cooler.

An ideal, affordable, and easy to use product for "in-home" consumer use is

Chrysal Clear Universal Flower Food at just pennies per package. Always remember that too little flower food can be worse than none at all, so be sure that you provide your customers with an adequate supply as short changing them here is a false economy if the flowers they buy do not perform. Saving a couple of extra pennies by not providing adequate fresh flower food, could result in a disgruntled customer who believes your flowers don't "last, and shops elsewhere in the future.

Hydration, the key to survival?
It's said that a human can survive 40 days without food, 4 days without water, and 4 minutes without air. Water is just as important to cut flowers and plays a key role in their longevity. So, after your flowers arrive in your store hydrating them as quickly as possible is a critical step first step in post harvest. While flower food contains an agent to assist in hydration,
a flower that has been dehydrated through the normal course of shipping needs a "jump start". That's where a hydration solution such as Chrysal Easy Dip comes to the rescue.The purpose of any "quick dip" hydration solution is to sanitize the cut wound and stem to reduce contaminants from blocking the stem. Doing so before placing the flower into other solutions will keep water flowing up the stem, but always remember to change your quick dip solution at least every second day to prevent bacterial contamination.

Cleanliness in your shop, why the need?

Flowers, like people have a natural aversion to certain forms of bacteria. Bacteria will make your flowers sick as surely as it will you. Bacteria will clog stems resulting in the flower being unable to take up water and nutrition (flower food). So maintaining a high level of cleanliness in all aspects of your shop is critical. Cleanliness also plays a key role in preventing the spread of Botrytis, the scourge of the retail flower shop.
What is Botrytis?
Think about the mold on an orange in your fridge or the fuzzy growth you find on rose heads occasionally. Those are forms of botrytis, and boy will they spread if ignored.

So here are some guidelines to follow to maintain a clean environment that your flowers will flourish in

  • Remove dead plant material from, sorting areas, work rooms, displays and  coolers as often as possible
  • Remove any infected plant material immediately from batches of flowers
  • Clean and disinfect tables, knives and cutting tools at least on a daily basis with a product designed for this purpose such as Chrysal Cleaner or Floralife DCD Cleaner. Treat them as you do the cutlery you eat with! If they are not clean enough to eat with or from, they are not clean enough for your flowers!
  • Wash and sanitize all flower buckets as you empty them, never reuse a bucket prior to doing so! Would you reuse a dinner plate without washing it? Floralife DCD Cleaner is specifically designed for this task and will disinfect, clean, and deodorize flower buckets while leaving protective coating that keeps on working over many days.
  • Always pay attention to hygiene and regularly disinfect the walls and floors.
  • Use a quality flower food such as Chrysal Professional 2, Liquid or T-Bags specifically formulated for a holding environment such as your cooler. These products contain less nutrients and more active ingredients designed for flowers in storage.

So folks in a nutshell, those are the basics of good post harvest care and handling products.