Bent Neck Blues

bent neckYou know it when you see it: a lovely rose or gerbera hanging its head in shame, its stem resembling a shepherd’s hook. Bent neck is a problem that has its roots in the postharvest chain, but often doesn’t show up until the bouquet is proudly displayed in the home. Today, let’s look at the causes and treatment of bent neck.

Bent Neck: Common Causes

  • Premature Harvest: The flower and associated tissues have not fully developed.
  • Susceptible Variety: Some are more prone, but proper postharvest care helps alleviate the problem.
  • Post-Harvest Stress: Such as poor nutrition or lack of refrigeration between harvest and retail
  • Improper Storage: Lack of refrigeration again, or stored too long
  • Exposure to Ethylene: We’ve talked about this previously
  • Insufficient Water Uptake: Without proper uptake, bent neck can occur within a short time.

Bent Neck: Can these flowers be saved?

One report states that if the problem is care and handling postharvest, likely yes. If the problem is premature harvesting, likely no.

Treating Bent Neck

  1. Recut the stems – Cut at least an inch from the bottom of the stem. This should eliminate any air bubbles or bacteria built up at the end, and reopen the stem.
  2. Briefly dip the stems in Floralife Quick Dip 100 instant hydrating treatment. This helps maximize solution uptake and keeps flower stems free flowing.
  3. Prepare a properly dosed solution of flower food and water. Place the flowers in the solution.
  4. Rearrange the bouquet to give the affected stems extra support while they recover.

Again, if the stems CAN be saved, you should find out in 24-48 hours.

So, that’s the skinny on bent neck. Like many maladies, floral and otherwise, it’s better to prevent than it is to treat, with proper postharvest nutrition and temperature control being key. How about you? Ever dealt with bent neck? Any secrets to share? Drop us a note in the comments section!