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How to Select Fresh-cut Flowers

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Careful selection is key.  Get the healthiest, freshest bunch possible by taking a peek at the stems.  Consider how clean and fresh the cut is, and the color of the stems near the cut: are the stems black?  If so, pass.  Are the stem bottoms clogged with white gooey stuff?  Pass.  Is the bucket-water cloudy or dark?  If yes, you may want to look for a vendor that takes better care of their merchandise or at least find a bucket with clean water.  While you’re checking your stems, be careful not to drip water on the tops of other bouquets, because this encourages disease.

Now inspect the health and quality of the foliage and flowers.  If you see black or grey slimy spots, pass!!  In fact, I recommend choosing from an entirely different bucket. The black spots are a fungus that spreads like wildfire and is very common problem caused by moisture on the leaves.  (Careless customers or vendors that allow water to fall onto the leaves of the bouquets are usually the culprit.)  Don’t think you can simply remove the offending foilage because the disease has usually spread beyond your sight and you’ll likely find afflicted areas tomorrow that you thought were okay today.  I honestly think this is the most common problem I see at big box stores, and local grocers.

Many tropicals, protea, orchids, chrysanthemum and “Peruvian lilies” or alstromeria are among the longest lasting of cut flowers.  If those are available to choose from, I would go straight for those.  Look for netted socks around the mums (this protects them during shipment) and look for orchid and tropical stems to be individually packaged in water vials.  For tropicals, keep the display area humid by misting your flowers early each morning because too dry of air will hasten senescence.  Most South American roses will be open and spongey and fresh, so looking for only tight hard roses isn’t always necessary, it really depends on the variety and source.  Personally, I pass on roses unless they are grown organically.  Peonies should be tight, almost closed, if you expect to get decent shelf-life from them.  Tulips are easy to pick : if they are squeeky and the bottom stems are clean, they are prime.