It’s that time of year again! Love is in the air, and floral departments are getting ready for the rush with tons of lovely roses on hand. However, getting all those gorgeous stems from the farms into the hands of their Valentine’s Day recipients takes superior care and handling, especially with the extended shipping and storage period needed to meet the increased demand.
“How to make that special day last for the consumer and create a returning customer”
The challenges that suppliers of fresh cut flowers face throughout the year at every point in the distribution chain are pathogen and ethylene control, temperature management, and correct care and handling. The increased demand for roses for Valentine’s Day means suppliers have to extend their harvest and storage periods. The additional days needed to ensure that enough roses are available in the market also means that it is necessary to be more vigilant than ever by ensuring every measure is taken to preserve and care for roses along their journey to fresh.
Getting roses to your store fresh means paying special attention to good temperature management. This is critical throughout the distribution chain to preserve the quality, freshness, and ultimate longevity of the flowers. To achieve this, place roses into a 34°F to 38°F cooler, with 75 to 85 percent humidity. Maintaining a low temperature and high humidity is important to minimizing water loss and maximizing vase life.
Growers begin the process by following proper sanitation, hydration principles, and controlling ethylene and pathogens. Properly dipping or spraying roses after harvest is of utmost importance year-round, but especially in preparation for Valentine’s Day when the volume of roses is much greater. This protects the flowers from the extremes of the external environment. Roses leaving farms should be packaged in a transport paper that limits the growth of pathogens during transport.
Locations receiving products may provide “value-added” processes such as wet packing bouquets or manufacturing pre-made arrangements. It is imperative the cold chain is maintained, and that the flowers are properly conditioned for storage and transport. An ethylene blocker with shipments is a must.
This is perhaps the most critical crossroad for roses on their Valentine’s Day journey. Once roses reach the stores, they have likely been harvested and stored for longer periods than usual. It’s at this stage of the game that roses need the most TLC to perform their best. They require:
1. 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 storing or displaying cut flowers near ripening produce or products that produce ethylene;
• Making sure your supplier has treated your cut flowers with an ethylene action inhibitor.
Clean and sanitize your buckets, tools, work surfaces and cooler walls, floors and shelves with a professional cleaning and sanitizing product formulated specifically for the fl oral industry. Unlike bleach, professional fl oral products have a residual effect that helps keep these items clean and sanitized for days after treatment. This is your best weapon to combat bacteria and minimize exposure to pathogens.
3. Hydrate and Nourish
After their journey, roses need to be properly hydrated and nourished, especially when received dry pack. Using a flower food solution will provide flowers with what they need to flourish. For best results when processing dry pack or re-processing roses, cut and dip in an instant hydrating treatment to jump-start hydration and ensure free-fl owing stems. This is a must to help prevent bent necks in roses. Receiving roses via wet pack? Be sure to check water levels and add water with flower food, if needed. Always follow packaging instructions for proper dosing.
When using a traditional cut flower food, recut flower stems approximately 1-inch, using a sharp, sanitized knife or clippers. Then immediately place the freshly cut flower stems into a properly proportioned flower food solution made with cold water. 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 enjoyment.
Use a professional finishing spray to refresh, hydrate and protect your flowers. Quick and easy to apply, this is a final step before your arrangements go 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
You’ve done everything right, and now it’s time for your customer to take those roses home and make them last. Buying roses can be intimidating to some. As the flower expert, off er advice on the steps for the customer of the recipient of the flowers to follow at home to care for the 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 every three days. And provide flower food packets with every purchase and delivery—enough to enable consumers to change the solution throughout the life of the arrangement or bouquet. That means more than one packet of flower food. This is your best insurance policy to guarantee that the freshness will continue for the end-user.
A happy customer, especially at Valentine’s Day, will likely be a repeat customer. Sometimes Valentine’s Day is the only time during the year someone might purchase roses, and this may be your one and only shot to make an impression. Be sure to send your customers armed not only with flower food packets, but the confidence to use them! Educating your customers before they leave the store on how to care for their roses and to make them last, will help them have an amazing experience and bring them back to you when it’s time to buy their roses (or other flowers) again.