Steps and Processes

Steps and Processes to Healthier and Long-lasting Fresh Cut Flowers

Have you ever heard "time is on your side." Well, that is NOT necessarily true for a fresh cut flower. The care and handling a flower receives as it travels through the flower chain channels can greatly affect the amount of enjoyment one can experience with a fresh cut flower arrangement. A flower's longevity is directly influenced by "time." Time exposed to high-temperature sources. Time outside of a flower food solution before, during and after processing. Sales, efficiencies, quality and performance of the final floral product directly correlates to the amount of "time" that you are willing to invest following the proper steps and processes. 

You have already taken an important step by visiting Floralife's care and handling pages to learn more about how the proper steps can lead to healthier long-lasting cut flowers.

Floralife's Basics of Flower Care

For flower enthusiasts - and the professionals who serve them - freshness is key.  With proper care and nutrition you can enjoy your flowers days longer, so please follow these Floralife® care tips for lasting freshness and beauty.

Some basic steps for proper care of fresh cut flowers include the following:

  1. Begin with a clean vase or container. If possible, do not use water that contains softeners for flowers. The sodium (salt) content may decrease the life of some flowers.
  2. Always add a Floralife® Flower Food to the water, following packet or label directions. Floralife® Flower Foods hydrate and nourish the flowers for the maximum enjoyment of the customer.
  3. Remove all of the foliage from below the water line. This prevents the foliage from decaying and keeps the water cleaner and the stems free flowing.
  4. Give all flower stems a fresh cut before placing them into flower food solution. It helps ensure hydration. 
  5. Flowers will live longer if placed away from direct sunlight, windy drafts and television sets. 
  6. Replenish the vase/container with more Floralife® Flower Food solution as needed, due to water uptake and evaporation.

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Store fresh flowers in a 34 - 38° F (2 - 3° C) cooler with 80 - 90% relative humidity.

Tropical flowers should be stored at 55 - 60° F (13 - 16° C) or room temperature.

Flower Metabolism

Temperature is one of the most important factors influencing the vase life of flowers. By lowering the temperature, the flower’s metabolism (respiration and transpiration) is greatly reduced. The result is a decrease in the natural chemical reactions that cause flower senescence (death). Ethylene action on flowers is greatly inhibited at lower temperatures. This slowing of metabolism resembles hibernation in some mammals. An example of the importance of temperature is shown in the chart below. 


Temperature ° F

Relative Deterioration Rate


1 - Reference Point


2 - 3


3 - 4


4 - 6


8 - 10



For example, at 54° F a flower will open more rapidly and deteriorate three-four times faster than a flower kept at 34° F.

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Relative Humidity is also a very important storage variable, especially if the temperature is above 32 - 34° F. The proper amount of water in the air will inhibit the fresh cut flower from the process of transpiration. Transpiration is a necessary process for water uptake through the stems. Although when a flower is stored, transpiration should be reduced to prevent water loss. Loss of hydration can cause many undesirable effects like bent neck and premature wilting. The relative humidity should be kept at 80 - 90%. If the relative humidity gets too high (as approaches 100%) condensation will occur. Condensation on flowers can aggravate such problems as botrytis.

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Keep it Clean!

Cleanliness is usually underestimated in terms of its importance concerning postharvest vase life. If the process starts with a dirty and microbe infested bucket, or cooler, or anything else that might come in contact with the flowers. . . then all other attempts at postharvest care will be less effective. For example, if a flower is properly treated and then put into a dirty bucket, the flower may prematurely die from the microbes. So make sure that everything that can come in contact with the flowers is sanitized and disinfected, including buckets, cutters, coolers, benches, floors, etc. Floralife has an entire line of products such as D.C.D.® specially formulated to help you "Keep it Clean!"

Why is sanitation important?

  • Bacteria clogs stems, which lead to hydration problems and bent neck

  • Bacteria produce ethylene, which decrease flower longevity and quality

  • Fungi are opportunists, which can decrease the value of your flower stems (by causing diseases) and create more waste

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The importance of using a Floralife® Flower Food with fresh cut flowers is well documented. Floralife® Flower Foods give flowers the food they need, decrease bent neck and increase bud opening in many flower varieties.

A Floralife® Flower Food is formulated to give these benefits by providing the following ingredients:

! Sugar - Providing a carbohydrate, as an energy source to keep the flower alive.

! Acidifier - Increasing & maintaining the uptake of water & nutrients by lowering the pH of the water.

! Stem unpluggers - a mix of ingredients that help lower the pH can help eliminate stem plugging. Fresh cut flowers will receive the best benefits when flower food is used at the correct concentration.

Our data verifies the importance of using the recommended dose of fresh flower food for the best results.

Unfortunately, it has been estimated that more than 50% of all fresh flower foods used are at too low of a concentration!

The easiest way to make certain the correct amount of fresh flower food is used at all times is with an automatic proportioner (or dosing unit). Proportioners guarantee each bucket, vase, container, etc. has the right amount of fresh flower food, automatically.

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Do Know Your Water Quality?

Unsure of your water quality? The labs at Floralife can clear things up for you! We analyze four parameters when you send in a water sample:

•  pH
•  Electrical Conductivity and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)
•  Alkalinity
•  Hardness

Together, pH, TDS, alkalinity, and hardness can tell you how your flowers will react to your specific water type. Floralife labs will test your water free of charge. Interested in sending in a sample for testing?

1. Rinse out a bottle (at least 1 pint) several times with your tap water.

2. Include your name, address (where report should be mailed), and phone number (in case questions arise).

3. Mail to Floralife, Attn.: Laboratory, 751 Thunderbolt Drive, Walterboro, SC, 29488.

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Water pH

The pH is simply a measure of how acidic or basic your water is on a scale of 0 to 14. A pH of less than 7 is acidic; 7 is neutral; and greater than 7 is basic. The pH alone doesn’t reveal much about water quality, but how easily the pH changes (buffering capacity) is important. Typically, water alone will have a pH range of 5 to 8. Combined with flower food, the usual pH will be between 3 and 5, or slightly acidic. A slightly acidic solution increases water uptake and prevents bent neck. Fresh cut flowers benefit from a pH in the range of 3 to 5. What does the pH value tell you? A change in 1 pH unit is a tenfold change in the acidity. For example, a pH of 6 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 7.

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Water's Electrical Conductivity and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)

Conductivity of water is determined by the salts in the water. The TDS is a measure of all the dissolved solids in the water (measured in parts per million or ppm). The level of TDS is important because high levels of certain salts can potentially reduce flower life. The mixture of dissolved solids is also important because a mixture of moderate levels of calcium, magnesium, and potassium can be beneficial. In contrast to a mixture of high levels of iron, fluoride, and sodium that can be harmful to fresh cut flowers. 

To explore the TDS further, alkalinity and hardness are analyzed. These properties can be considered a part of the TDS.

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Water Alkalinity

The alkalinity level of your water describes its buffering capacity (ability to resist pH changes). A higher alkalinity means that the water contains a higher amount of carbonates, bicarbonates, and hydroxides, which resist the lowering of the pH (and potentially reducing the effectiveness of flower food). When recommending water specific flower foods, water with alkalinity less than 60 ppm is considered pure(recommending Special Blend 300 flower food for pure water); from 60 ppm to 180 ppm is considered medium (recommending Floralife® Flower Food); and greater than 180 ppm is considered hard (for extreme hard water use Special Blend 300 flower food for hard water). Alkalinity is the most important factor when considering how cut flowers will react to your water.

Occasionally, water will have such high alkalinity that no flower food is able to bring the pH down into the acceptable range. In these extreme cases (usually with alkalinity much greater than 400 ppm), a deionizing or reverse osmosis system is recommended. These systems remove all of the ions from the water; beneficial ions are added back to the water by using flower food.

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Water Hardness

The level of hardness refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium in your water (measured in ppm). Typically, these levels are not a good indicator of how cut flowers will react in your water. In general, most highly alkaline waters also have high hardness levels. If you have hard water, it is not recommended that you install a water softener that replaces calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions. Sodium ions tend to be harmful for flowers at high levels.

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