As British glam rockers The Sweet cautioned long ago, “Love is like oxygen. You get too much, you get too high. Not enough and you’re going to die.” And so it is with flower food. While beneficial in proper measure to a cut flower’s beauty and vitality, flower food used improperly can either be ineffective or too harsh. Success is a matter of dosage.
A Brief Biology Break
In the field and in the greenhouse, flowers with roots intact draw their nutrients from the soil. After harvesting, as flowers make their journey from the grower to the consumer, and in consumer vase, they rely on flower food solution for their nutrition and hydration, as well as to keep stems clear and free-flowing. Meanwhile, the flower food solution helps control the pH balance in the container, keeping it free of harmful bacteria. The results of these efforts (when done properly) are seen in brilliance of color, fullness of blooms and overall flower health and longevity – all the hallmarks of a pleasant cut flower experience.
Trouble in the Mix
Sometimes, though, by way of miscalculation or an attempt to “stretch” their resources, some along the flower chain may use a smaller than recommended dose of flower food in their solution. What results is a solution too weak to be effective. It can also cause an out-of-balance container environment ripe for bacteria growth if under-dosing is extreme.
Conversely, some may feel that “more is better”; that using greater than the recommended dose will provide even greater benefits, or that its effects will be longer lasting. In this instance, with extreme over-dosing damage such as leaf burn and leaf loss can result, without appreciable additional improvement in vase life.
Only at 100 percent of the recommended dose do you find the balance between proper nutrition and hydration, and a controlled vase environment without damage. While minor under- or over-dosing is forgiven by flower food, you should avoid extreme situations
Lab Tests Prove the Benefit of Proper Dosage
If “too hard / too soft / just right” seems like a formula Goldilocks might devise, know that there is science to support it.
Laboratory research conducted by FLORALIFE® studied the effects of flower food dosage on Roses, Alstroemeria and Chrysanthemum. Several solutions ranging from zero to 400 percent of recommended dosage were prepared.
Results at day 7 showed that:
- Flower food doses below 100 percent recommended rate resulted in shorter vase life and early wilting.
- 100 percent recommended dosage resulted in peak vase life.
- The 200 and 400 percent doses experienced no additional vase life than the 100 percent dose, as well as stems that “lost leaves due to phytotoxic damage.” At 400 % dose.
Automated Dosing Proves Effective
We strongly encourage growers, wholesalers, bouquet operations, supermarkets and florists to invest in automated dosing systems for flowers making their way through the distribution chain (such as the Floralife® Dosing Systems).
These automated dosing systems do their work with little human intervention. They help maintain pH balance, ensure a more uniform delivery of nutrients and hydration, and promote a sanitary environment, while preventing excessive opening and development of the flower petals before the final sale.
Today, dosing systems are fairly simple to install and operate. They can easily be mounted on a wall or under a sink. A fresh water source is connected to one end of the system. The system then draws concentrated solution from a container, drum or tote, mixes it with the correct amount of water, and then dispenses it through a hose and wand. The benefits are immense: accurately measure and mix solution every time; take the guesswork out of measuring, and prevent over or under usage.
Proper Dosing: A Formula for Success?
The name of the game is beauty, vitality and vase life. Maintaining and promoting these across the vast distances some flowers must trek from the grower to the consumer can be a tough job. We would say there is no magic formula for success but, you know what? In a way, there IS. Research shows that flower food – in the proper dose – is your best bet to present to the consumer healthy vibrant flowers that last!
To learn more about care and handling from the flower care experts visit us at www.floralife.com
Floralife®, a division of Smithers-Oasis, is a worldwide leader in postharvest flower care and handling. Floralife® has been for 80 years and counting, the flower care experts. Inventors of the first flower food in 1938, since then we’ve continued to partner with our clients to address specific quality concerns and create a line of floral care products suitable to feed, hydrate, nourish and protect at every level in the distribution chain. As a globally positioned company, we are proud to offer our expertise, consultation and education to anyone in the floral industry seeking knowledge and the tools necessary to provide only the freshest, long-lasting flowers to their customers.