Bulb Flower Handling

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Here are some questions to test your general knowledge of bulb flower handling.

Q: Should I remove the anthers of lilies to eliminate the possibility of pollen stains and lengthen vase life?

A: Yes and no. Research shows no improvement in vase life when anthers are removed, but plucking anthers definitely helps avoid pollen stains. If pollen does not stain clothing or tablecloths, use tape (masking or scotch tape) to lift the pollen off material. It’s ok to blow it off, but avoid touching or brushing it with hands because oil in our skin sets the pollen into the texture of the material.

Q: How can I get Gladioli and Freesia to open all the way?

A: Process the stems in Chrysal Bulb T-Bag solution. For Glads, carefully snap off an inch off  the stem apex (growth point). This action forces the growth hormone to migrate from the tip of the flower spike down into the buds greatly improving floret opening. Only give Freesia a fresh cut if stems have been out of water more than 4-5 days. Cutting stems, triggers internal ethylene and causes florets to stagnate and blooms to die prematurely. Treat Freesia and glads in Bulb T-Bags. Remove the 1st spent blossom to encourage each floret on the comb to continue opening.

Q: If I pierce tulip stems and add pennies to the water, keep glads in the dark, add gin to the iris buckets, or strip lily foliage, this will maximize vase performance–right?!

A: The cell chemistry in bulbous flowers (including tulips) goes crazy when the flowers are cut from their bulb, corm, rhizome or tuber. Symptoms include: short vase life, florets that start to open, but stagnate instead (Iris, Freesia & Gladioli). Tulip foliage yellows, stems goose-neck and drop petals. Anemones, ranuculas and nerines lose color vibrancy fast. Alstroemeria and lillies suffer premature leaf yellowing. All are symptoms of the imbalance that occurs when bulbous flowers are harvested. These types of flowers don’t really need glucose (sugar) to open. Instead, bulb flowers need  hormone based, rather than sugar-based food. Rebalance the chemistry to avoid the negative symptoms.

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