Flowers must be kept cool. Ideally a flower cooler is 34 degrees. You should have a cooler that allows customers to see the loose flowers and arrangements that you have for sale. You may also need a cooler to use for storage of bulk amounts of flowers and greens, arrangements for delivery in the near future. Some flower shops have their designers pull flowers for designs from the display cooler, some keep them separate. There is no argument for or against these two ideas-as long as you are keeping a good rotation on your flowers. The first in should be the first out!
Keep your coolers clean and free of plant material debris. Spores of fungus and bacteria will multiply in an unclean environment. These are the enemy of long lasting beautiful flowers! The freshest flowers will not perform well when mildew, fungus and bacteria are attacking them. A mild solution of bleach and water should be used to disinfect cooler surfaces and all buckets that are used to store flowers.
Change the water in your cooler buckets at least weekly. Bacteria will thrive in dirty water.
Use Preservatives! Preservative is not always a bad word, but if it bothers you, try “post harvest care solutions”. Post harvest is a fancy term that is currently being used when referring to any process that is done to flowers once they have been cut from the plant.
Carefully follow the instructions of your Wholesale Florist on the use of preservative solutions. These solutions contain not only the food (sugar) that flowers need to develop, but also antibacterial agents and in many cases citric acid for hydration. Specialized solutions contain other agents that have been proven to solve aging problems in specific flowers. There are many manufacturers of post harvest solutions. Each has a branded line of products. For the most part, they all have the same elements but they are packaged and marketed differently. Here are some sources of manufacturers. You will not be able to buy from them directly, but any Floral Supply Wholesaler will carry one or more of these lines. If the wholesaler does not carry preservatives–don’t spend a penny with them!
Do not store fruit in your coolers. Fruit produces ethylene gas-this is a natural plant hormone that causes aging of plant material…. As fruit ripens, it gives off ethylene… that ethylene triggers the early death of fresh flowers. It can cause curling of petals in many ethylene sensitive flowers.
Educate yourself on proper care and handling. The Chain of Life network provides an up to date compilation of the best practices for handling flowers from the grower to the consumer for longest life and value. Research is on-going and recommendations change as more is learned. It pays to stay informed.
Educate your customers on proper care and handling. The Society of American Florists has a site aimed at flower consumers: www.aboutflowers.com. It offers excellent information about flowers, how to choose, buy and keep flowers in the home. Take time to read all of it… especially the section on Flower Care. When your customers have great results with the flowers they buy from you, they will come back!