Smashing stems provides a good endorphin release, but save it for firewood because the technique is hell on floral products. A care and handling myth that won’t die—processing woodies by pounding stems. The idea was to expose lots of surface area to boost uptake. What was pounded? Everything from flowering quince to stock, lilac, hydrangeas and poms.

No more! Research has never been able to prove anything positive about the relationship between pounding and uptake. In fact, pounding and smashing so injures the long-distance transport vessels of a stem’s plumbing system, it is more damaging than positive. And injured cells “bleed” like crazy– enzymes, sugars, organic juices, cellulose of dead cell walls… Bacteria explode.

Don’t do it. Use a sharp chopper or shears instead. Sharp and clean, that is. Pounding stems is as antiquated as the use of rotary phones.

Here are some situations and solutions that are often encountered when it comes to gerberas.


SITUATION: A box of expensive Dutch gerbera daisies have gone limp because the customer did not pick up (kept pushing the order forward). Finally (day 6) we gave up on the customer, cut stems and placed in water with Chrysal gerbera pills. Holding buckets out of cooler after 2 hours, stems are turgid but petals are still limp.

QUESTIONS: Should we spritz, dunk, submerge the blooms? Keep waiting? Normally, I would worry about botrytis infection if we get the heads wet, but blooms will be put into action on Tuesday. Also our environment is very dry. What else can we do?

 SOLUTION: You’ve done everything right so far.

  • Avoid dunking, spritzing or submerging blooms—too much handling causes mechanical damage, too much water ramps up disease pressure
  • Once stems are full of super clean water (4-6 hrs), transfer into Chrysal Professional 2 solution. Pro 2 provides the carbo-load so petals firm up and colors stay vibrant
  • When you transfer blooms into Professional 2, move buckets into cooler.



SITUATION: Gerbera blooms are locked in side-facing position. I want them to look up, not sideways.

SOLUTION: Take stems out of water and out of cooler for several hours so they get thirsty.

  • Prepare cold water (34-36F) with Chrysal Gerbera pills (1 pill/ half gallon water)
  • Cut stems, with a clean, sharp knife. Make sure to give a fresh cut above the “heel” (white tissue at bottom of stem)
  • Plunge stems into solution. Shallow water level-3-4”
  • When flowers go into buckets, make support stems upright, no hang-overs in bucket. Make a grid with tape on top of processing bucket so stems hang vertical, but don’t suffer scrapes or wounds as flowers are slotted
  • Place buckets in cooler so stems harden-off fast
  • Design Gerberas as usual vase flower food


SITUATION: Gerberas arrive with petals reflexing down toward the floor rather than horizontal position

SOLUTION: Contact vendor and explain the blooms appear to be cut too soon and you’ll need a replacement.

What causes leaves to turn yellow in Lilies?

Flowers from bulbs, rhizomes, tubers and corms (e.g. iris, alstro, lilies, tulips, anemones, freesia, lily of the valley, ranuculas…) stress out when the blooms are cut from the “bulb”.  Harvest causes an imbalance in cell functions. Symptoms are premature yellow foliage, short vase life, buds not opening and loss of color vibrancy. Chrysal Bulb t-bag to the rescue! Bulb T-bags rebalance the chemistry and eliminates the problem.

Should the leaves of Alstroemerias and Lilies be stripped almost to the bloom? 

Leave the leaves in place. The notion of stripping alstroemeria and lily leaves became popular 30 years ago BEFORE there were good post harvest options for bulbous blooms. Because foliage of “bulbous” flowers suffer a chemical imbalance at harvest which results in leaves turning prematurely yellow, florists started stripping stems.

Why not strip?  The leaves of any flower are a source of energy. Nutrients in leaves prolong vase-life and bloom opening. In many flower species, (e.g. roses) leaves are the pumps to pull water up the stem.

Is water falling on rose petals the cause of drooped over heads?

Drooping  flower heads indicates something is blocking flow in stems (generally bacteria and/or air bubbles). The cells under the flower head are the most immature and cannot support a bloom if they are not turgid.

Dripping water on flower petals is another problem altogether. Wet petals can aggravate Botrytis  potential (fungus disease).

CLICK HERE to learn more about Botrytis.


Let’s put an urban myth to rest: poinsettias are not toxic–not the red or green leaves or milky sap. Although not recommended as a snack for children or pets, chowing down on a plant only results in slight nausea, no worse than devouring a box of chocolates.

Hints to keeping plants fresh all season; poinsettias are not well-suited to front porch displays—too cold. Display in indirect, bright light. Botrytis, the ever-lurking disease beast, takes off when bracts get dripped on or dead leaves litter the soil surface. Avoid overwatering. Error on the dry side. Remove plants from décor pot before watering and drain saucers prior to placing back on display. Roots need as much air as water to thrive. Avoid close proximity to heater vents. Toss out plants by February to make room for spring blooms.

The Freesia is a versatile flower that comes in many sizes, shapes and colors. Let your imagination go wild and combine different colors and different flowers! The freesia is originally from South Africa “Cape Lily of the Valley”, and it can be single or double flowered. It comes in white, yellow, orange, red, blue, pink and purple, but can also be bicolored or multi-colored. Many varieties have a beautiful sweet scent which makes freesias even more attractive.

Continue reading →


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.

Click on video to learn more…


Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, that means put on your marketing caps and PROMOTE, PROMOTE & PREPARE WISELY.

Here is a survival countdown for Valentine’s Day that can help you optimize your flowers, staff and most importantly your cost & sales.

Week of January 25—29

  • a) Prepare work schedules. Identify which non-floral associates will help in floral
  • b) Decorate Floral Department
  • c) Complete candy arrangements
  • d) Fill water tubes with Chrysal Professional #2 or save money & time and use Arrive Alive.  Every stem gets hydrated!
  • e) Indentify incremental display location(s)
  • f)Send out a $5 off coupon to customers & remind them to order the flowers early in order to get the best flowers!
  • g) Post “at a glance” instructions for prepping flowers

o Right solution for the job: Chyrsal Prof #2 for buckets. Pro #3 for vases.
o How deep to fill buckets (1/3—1/2)
o How much to cut off stems (1-2inches)
o How many bunches per bucket
o NOT to strip foliage from stems
o What cooler to store finished products

Week of January 30—Feb 5

  • a) Make sure ALL floral supplies are in. No supply orders during VD week (glass, nutrients, wire, Arrive Alive, Transporters)
  • b) Review VD work schedule / make changes. Staff heaviest for the 14th
  • c) Balloon set-up
  • d) Determine display area for impact items (orchids , tulip pots, etc)
  • e) Upgrade potted. Dust off last year’s left over bows and pouffs
  • f) Make sure wire catalogues are out and everyone knows how to use

Week of February 6—12

  • a) Create balloon bouquets
  • b) Begin fresh arrangement production
  • c) Start pre-greening rose vases. Fill vases with Chrysal Professional #2 or Pro #3.
  • d) Spray pre-green vases with Chrysal leafshine to avoid dehydration.
  • e) Identify space allotments in dairy and produce coolers for arrangements
  • f) Create a coupon for Mother’s Day & make sure it goes out the door with every flower!

February 9

  • a) Communicate to receiving manager and GM how large your in-bound load will be
  • b) Identify where it is to be stored
  • c) Staff heavy to process entire load of dry-pack blooms. Leave NOTHING in boxes!
  • 2 REASONS WHY: 1. So you can inspect the product. 2. Allow time for flowers to hydrate 100%
  • d) Prepare processing buckets using cold water and Chrysal Professional #2
  • e) Teach extra help how to wrap flowers & how to up-sale with Arrive Alive water wrap

February 11

  • a) Mass-produce rose arrangements
  • b) Build displays
  • c) Create a special section for vase-less bouquets, use Arrive Alive to wrap the bouquets and get water out of the buckets! Wet floors are dangerous!

February 12

  • a) Arrange to have all displays completed by noon
  • b) Expand ALL fresh cut displays—get every stem out on the floor

February 13

  • a) Floral managers help customers, NOT run registers!
  • b) Assign someone to refill arrangements with freshly-made Chrysal Pro #2 or Pro#3
  • c) Set up Cupid check out lane at end of day. Prep location with floral wrapping paper & Arrive Alive
  • d) Remind the register people that the holiday is UPC-driven!
  • e) Buy lunch for the entire staff, it doesn’t have to be expensive but it should reflect appreciation and keep everyone in the store


  • a) Instruct all staff to up-sell EVERYTHING!! Remember–everything in a vase SELLS!
  • b) Remind the customers to use the flower food in order to maximize the vase life of their flowers.


  • CELEBRATE & BEGIN TO PLAN FOR NEXT YEAR, take notes of what went well & what went wrong.  This is the best time to make notes since the big event is fresh in your memory! 
  • If you have any left over flowers donate them to local hospitals or even give them to your staff as an extra token of appreciation!

We bet you’re not the only one who likes this flower with its wide variety of shapes and colors! There are two types of hydrangea, the spring/summer variation and the classic variation, which blooms from summer through to autumn. If you treat them right, Hydrangeas are very rewarding flowers and they can last for over 3 weeks in an arrangement or a bouquet.

Click to watch video:

The creative part we leave up to you, but here are some tips to enjoy the Hydrangea as long as possible.

1. Hydrangeas have a high energy and water need

Hydrangeas have a very strong transpiration and also need a lot of energy to maintain color and strength. Due to the enormous flower surface and thinness of their petals, the flower will wilt if there is not enough liquid available. If this happens, cut off about 3-4 cm of the stem with a sharp knife and place the flower in a cool, fresh and clean Chrysal Clear Universal flower food solution. This solution quickly hydrates the flower and boosts the energy level of the flower, which is vital for good vase life.

2. Outdoor grown Hydrangeas sometimes have a very wooden stem end

Dutch hydrangeas are produced in greenhouses, and their peak production is in spring until late fall. Abroad they can be grown outdoors and depending on the climate they will be available year-round. Outdoor grown Hydrangeas sometimes have a very wooden stem end. In case the flower starts to wilt, cut off that part of the stem.

3. White Hydrangeas can turn blueish

This is a real nightmare for every florist. White Hydrangeas – most of the time used for weddings – can turn blueish in the centre of the flower when you use a post-harvest product containing Aluminium sulphate. Therefore make sure the flower food or storage solution contains the word “Clear” as in Chrysal Clear Professional 2 for the storage period and Chrysal Clear Universal flower food or Chrysal Clear Professional 3 for the consumer phase.

About the different variations Hydrangeas
The Hydrangeas that are available in spring/summer are mostly uniform in colour and are not left on the plant to mature, instead they are harvested when fully opened. The classic variation, available in summer and autumn, can even last for months: these flowers change color and become papery. The pictures show how the color of a pink variety changes from fresh (2) to classic (4). Picture 1 shows the least vase and is not recommended to use.

Bumpy pumpkins are awesome!!!

Want to snatch attention away from the turkey on the harvest table? Make a flower centerpiece in a bumpy pumpkin. Easy. Whack the top off the pumpkin, scoop out the guts and line the interior with a piece of thick plastic—a heavy-duty garbage bag cut open works well. Make sure to cut it large enough so there it overlaps the edge of the pumpkin about 4 inches. The foam and water pulls the plastic deeper into the cavity than you expect. A recycled yogurt tub makes a great container to support a chunk of foam. Soak the foam in flower food first to maximize flower longevity.

Prep the berries, twigs and assorted foliages in water treated with a Gerbera pill to wash off  dust and germs that foul the water fast (sacrificing longevity). Then prep the flowers in Chrysal Professional 2 so they are 100% juiced and ready to go all the way.

This year give thanks for creativity.

Image Courtesy of Society Bride