A seasoned entrepreneur knows that it’s easier to retain an existing customer than to win a new one. Repeat business is your goal, and the key to repeat business is providing a superior consumer experience. In our line of work, that means delivering eye-catching floral design, personalized service, and fresh cut flowers that last and last.
When it comes to fresh, long-lasting flowers, best practices yield best results. Using the right tools and flower food are definitely a plus. But these are only effective when accompanied by good care and handling practices. This includes properly mixing flower food, proper temperature management, ethylene and botrytis control, and sanitization at every stage of the flower’s Journey to Fresh.
The Journey to Fresh Begins With…
Variety Selection: Partner with suppliers who carefully select varieties after extensive testing, then choose only the best performing, hardiest and most disease resistant ones.
Cut Stage Management: Growers must harvest flowers at precisely the right moment. This ensures optimal opening, as well as the least amount of stress or mechanical damage during shipping.
Good Temperature Management: This is critical throughout the distribution chain to the quality, freshness and ultimate longevity of the flowers. Place flowers in a 34 – 38° F cooler (55 – 65° F for tropicals) with 75 – 85% humidity. Maintaining low temperature and high humidity is important to minimize water loss and maximize shelf life.
Disease Prevention: Preventing diseases, such as botrytis, requires constant monitoring. Control measures include:
- Temperature management.
- Minimizing or eliminating temperature fluctuations.
- Proper sanitation.
- Gently removing all grower packaging from bunches when unpacking boxes.
- Avoiding getting flower blooms wet.
- Avoiding touching or handling flowers by their blooms.
- Avoiding dropping or throwing flower boxes to prevent physical damage.
- Avoiding displaying near ripening produce or products that produce ethylene. Make sure to check that your supplier has treated the product with an ethylene action inhibitor, such as EthylBloc™.
The Journey Reaches the Retail Shop…
At this point the grower and the transporters have hopefully done their part, and you receive a shipment of full, fresh, and vital stems. It is now up to you to shepherd these flowers on the next steps of their journey. Fortunately, you have at your disposal a list of Care and Handling Dos & Don’ts to guide your path! We call these…
The 5 Steps to Fresh
1. Sanitize: Clean and sanitize your buckets, tools, work surfaces, and coolers with a professional cleaning and sanitizing product such as Floralife® D.C.D.® or a Floralife Ready to Use Cleaner. Unlike bleach, professional products have a residual effect that helps keep these items clean and sanitized for days after treatment.
2.Hydrate: Use an instant hydrating treatment such as Floralife® Quick Dip to jump start hydration and ensure free-flowing stems. This can be especially helpful with field grown crops. It’s a must for Roses and Gerbera Daisies to help prevent bent necks.
3.Feed & Nourish: Cut or don’t cut stems if using Floralife® Express Technology*. If not, then re-cut stems approximately 1” using clean, sanitized clippers or knife. Place flowers in a flower food solution. Use a dosing unit that is properly calibrated, or hand mix the solution according to label instructions. Flowers need to be nourished to ensure maximum quality and
Professional flower food generally contains:
- An acid to lower the pH of the solution. Flowers like a pH of 3 – 4.5 depending on water quality.
- Ingredients to keep the stems free flowing.
- An energy source (sugar) to nourish the flowers.
*Express technology performs at its optimum only when accompanied with good care and handling practices, for more information log onto express.floralife.com
4. Protect: Use a professional finishing spray such as Floralife® Finishing Touch to refresh, hydrate, and protect your flowers. Quick and easy to apply, this is a final measure of insurance before your arrangement goes out the door. A simple fine mist spray is all it takes to maximize customer satisfaction and extend the enjoyment of receiving flowers!
5. Customer Care: Educate your customers on how to care for their flowers. Caution them about placing flowers in direct sunlight, drafty places, or near heating and cooling vents. Remind them to change the flower food solution when needed. And give your customer flower food sachets with every purchase. This is your best insurance policy to guarantee that the freshness will continue.
At Journey’s End…
When your flowers’ Journey to Fresh reaches a successful conclusion in the customer’s home, it will be due to the dedication, teamwork, and expert care & handling provided by every floral professional along the way, including you. And together, we will all reap the reward of repeat business!
To learn more about care and handling from the flower care experts visit us at www.floralife.com
About us 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.