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.

In all cases, it is recommended to remove a wilted flower, whether this wilting happens during the sale or at the home of the customer. Wilted flowers can infect other flowers in a bouquet, if, for example, the wilting is related to Botrytis. But early wilting because of a shorter lifespan of a flower in a mixed bouquet can also contaminate the vase water. Do not forget that cut flowers with a moderate natural lifespan often require extra post-harvest care.

During the sale, wilted flowers must certainly be removed from the container vase. The same applies to bouquets in buckets and also to bouquets in a sales display. Don’t forget that only a few bad bouquets in a display 95% full of beautiful flowers can bring the quality of the entire display down to a mediocre level.


  • Always provide post-harvest treatments that have been developed for the various flowers in all phases of the distribution
  • Excellent care provides the best guarantee for a natural course of the vase life and therefore for happy customers
  • Good care decreases the amount of waste, which leads to more profit


Botrytis cinerea also known as grey mold is a fungus that thrives on both living and dead plant materials. It starts off as a little white speck or “pock” on the flower petals and spreads right to the bottom of the flower. Gradually it changes its color to brown and finally all the petals fall off.

Infection and Spreading

The infection starts with miniscule mold spores spread through the air. In order to move, these spores need moisture. Condensation on the bud/flower and packaging, which appears because of temperature changes, is often enough for the Botrytis spores to quickly develop from little white “pocks” to brown spots. Once shifted from the “pock stage” into brown spots, the process is irreversable. The infected flower petals are often removed by hand. This, however does not guarantee that the fungal infection has not already damaged the rest of the petals. Throwing the flower away then becomes the only remedy to prevent further infection.

Hygiene and Tips

  • Remove dead plant material from greenhouses, sorting areas, floral arranging areas and cold stores as much as possible
  • Clean and disinfect tables, shears and knives on a daily basis
  • Remove infected plant material immediately from batches
  • Remember that hygiene plays an important role in preventing Botrytis
  • Infection often appears early on in the chain; when purchasing, pay special attention to “pocks”
  • Keep door of cold stores closed as much as possible because of temperature changes which can cause long-term condensation on the flowers/packaging materials.
  • Pull down the packaging materials or completely remove them so uncovered buds and flowers will stay dry


Flower fanatics, unite! Regardless whether you are a retail designer, a wholesale manager, buying flowers for bouquet production, or importing blooms from Latin America, every one agrees that quality matters. Why then is there so much confusion about the handling techniques that maximize quality at every step of the chain?

Let’s take a look at several common flower handling questions and try to slay a few sacred cows in the process. A good business mantra is “under-promise and over-deliver!” Americans demand value and come back for repeat purchases when they feel your product was worth the price. When it comes to appraising the value of flowers, vase-life performance is the bottom line. That’s why proper handling practices make good business sense. Handling flowers correctly makes all the difference in vase performance, not to mention reducing shrink.

Let’s start with sacred cows pertaining to Rose handling….

Will placing rose stems in hot water help hydrate them? NO! Hot water causes more harm than good. It is too aggressive for flower stems, including dahlias, snow on the mountain, poinsettia bracts and poppies. Super hot water damages stem cells, causing stem discoloration and subsequent cell collapse. Proper use of a hydration solution like Professional #1 or Professional Gerbera pills, slow release chlorine, will give far better results. Notice the emphasis on “proper”? That means the solution is mixed according to instructions and used for the appropriate time listed on label.

I like to clean my roses before arranging. Does it matter if I strip off most the foliage? Specialized cells, called stomata, are located on the underside of the leaves. These cells pump solution up the stem into blooms. Roses need ample foliage to hydrate. To avoid droopy heads, leave as much foliage in tact as possible. Strip only those leaves that fall below the water level when hydrating blooms to keep the solution clean.

Should you remove or dull rose thorns? Removing thorns may make handling easier, but those wounds serve as perfect entryways for bacteria and air bubbles to enter stems. Use a soft stripper from Chrysal to remove thorns. Avoid metal rose strippers for two reasons; it is super easy to nick or damage the stem bark. Secondly, it’s easy to go overboard and strip off too much foliage using those vice-like strippers.

Should you remove guard petals from roses? Refrain from grooming roses unless the guard petals are blemished or have Botrytis spots. Every petal removed loosens the overall bud composition thereby accelerating the opening rate. Remember, any wound (including the area where guard petals attach to the calyx) on a flower or flower stem is a conduit for bacterial invasion. Wounding blooms also triggers the internal production of ethylene. Ethylene shortens the vase life of all flowers!

How about myths surrounding tulips and other bulb flowers?

I pierce my tulip stems then add pennies to the water. Keep my glads in the dark, pour gin in the iris buckets and strip the foliage off my lilies to maximize vase performance on bulb flowers, right?
The chemistry of bulbous flowers (including tulips) goes crazy when the flowers are cut from their bulb, corm, rhizome or tuber. You recognize the symptoms, but may not know the cause. Poor vase life; Iris start to open, but instead turn brown and shrivel. Tulips goose-neck and drop petals, anemones, ranuculas and nerines lose color vibrancy. Alstroemeria and lilies suffer premature leaf yellowing. Freesia and glads stop opening after 1 or 2 florets.

All these conditions are symptoms of the hormonal imbalance that occurs when bulbous flowers are harvested. These types of flowers don’t need much sugar in flower foods, but vase life is greatly improved when hormone chemistry is rebalanced. Chrysal bulb t-bags are the product to use for bulb flowers.

Should I remove the anthers of lilies to eliminate the possibility of pollen stains? Yes, plucking off the anthers helps avoid pollen stains, but when pollen does stain clothing or tablecloths, use tape (masking or scotch both work) to lift the pollen off material. Avoid touching or brushing pollen with hands—that sets pollen grains into the texture of the material. Some feel that removing anthers slows down maturation, but it has never been scientifically proven.

What’s up with delphinium?
I love the beautiful blue tones, but they fall apart after 2-3 days. If your flowers suffer signs of premature ageing, ethylene may be the culprit. The entire delphinium family is highly sensitive to ethylene gas and needs to be treated at farm level with STS to prevent damning effects of ethylene exposure. Another alternative is treating ethylene sensitive flowers with Ethylene Buster (1-MCP gas) during transit.

Proper flower handling starts with variety selection and continues along every link of the chain. Every time consumers are polled on how long they think flowers last, they answer 2-3 days. When you exceed that vase-life expectation, you are planting seeds for repeat business!

Nets and cups on gerberas, chrysanthemums, callas, sunflowers and roses serve to protect flowers during production and transport.

Bruising and creasing on petals diminishes commercial value as well as predisposing damaged tissues for Botrytis infection.

Take care when pulling stems out of flats. Scraping off bark as stem rubs against cardboard damages the sensitive area directly below bloom and predisposes flowers to Botrytis infection. Scraped stems are perfect entry portals for bacteria, too

Rose growers place nets on blooms during production to increase head size and reduce absorption of UV light that leads to petal blackening in some red varieties.

Netting allows blooms extra time on the bush—important since maximum bud height is achieved in the
final days before harvest. This is also the point at which energy generated in the photosynthetic process causes petal texture to become robust (almost thick) as tissues fill with carbohydrates.

Nets / cups on or off??
There are two reasons to remove nets and cups during processing:
1. Simple aesthetics. Netted blooms look weird on display. Any one in the food industry knows the hair net goes on as you clock in for a shift, NOT as catch the bus. Nets hide the beauty (and size) of blooms and make the display appear less than terrific.

2. Equally important reason to remove nets and cups is to allow condensation to evaporate from petal surface. Even a micro-film of condensation is sufficient for Botrytis spores to start germinating, so it makes sense to let the flowers dry out.

Fungi infection by Botrytis is one of the main post harvest problems of cut flowers. Roses and gerbera are particularly sensitive. What can you, as a florist, do to limit the damage?

Botrytis cinerea (grey mildew) gets its necessary food from living flowers and plants, and has a very damaging effect on them. Once the fungi becomes visible, the flowers must be thrown away.

The infection goes through miniscule fungi spores. These spread via air and land on the plant. To be able to germinate, moisture is needed. At a low temperature ( ± 5°C) the germination evolves slower than at higher temperatures (± 20°C). After germination of the spores, hyphal threads are created that enter the flower and affect the whole flower. At this point the infection cannot be stopped. Low temperatures cause some slowing down of contamination and germination.



The way to control damage as much as possible is to hinder the germination of spores. This can be done by keeping the relative humidity (rv) as low as possible (<90%) and to store the flowers in low temperatures (± 5°C) for as long as possible.

A problem for you as a florist is that the infection often occurs earlier in the chain, at the grower or wholesaler. For this reason it is important to be very anxious about the first signs of botrytis infection when purchasing flowers. These can be noticed as little brown spots in the petals (pocks). Flowers with this kind of infection should not be bought and avoided at all costs!

Do not keep the flowers in their sleeves too long, because otherwise the humidity between the buds can get very high. Florists with their own cool storage must not let the rv get over 90%.

Finally it is – of course- important to work as hygienically as possible. This means cleaning up plants and flowers and the daily cleaning of tables, scissors and knives.


Sensitive flowers

Botrytis can affect a lot of varieties, but most problems occur with rose, gerbera and lisianthus. Within one variety differences in sensitivity can occur. For example the rose “Grand Prix” is very susceptible for botrytis. Experience shows, that one grower’s flowers are more susceptible than those of another grower.



  • Infection with botrytis often happens early in the chain. Pay attention when buying flowers.
  • When experiencing a lot of problems, buy your flowers from another grower.
  • Assure a low relative humidity in both cool storage and the shop.
  • Remove the flowers from the sleeve as soon as possible.
  • Work hygienically.

If a college admissions officer had to choose which flower to grant admissions to, it would most definitely be a Chrysanthemum. These “well-rounded” flowers were first cultivated in China as early as the 15th century BC. The Chrysanthemum can be found in a wide range of colors, from purple, white, and yellow, to pink and orange.  The mums name comes from the Greek meaning “golden flower” historically chrysanthemums were primarily yellow flowered.

There is such a variety of “Mums” in the United States, that a system of classification was created to categorize and identify them.  Japan even has a national Chrysanthemum Day, which represents a day of happiness. In Australia the Chrysanthemum is the traditional flower given to mothers every May to celebrate their special day.

The Chrysanthemum has even been proven by NASA’s clean air study, to reduce the emissions of indoor air pollution. Extracts of this unique, but common flower can be used as a medicine, including treatment for HIV. Even John Steinbeck, one of the most prolific authors in United States history wrote a short story entitled “The Chrysanthemums.”

There are many reasons to enjoy these beautiful flowers, and it all starts with handling them right!

Vase Life: 8-10 days, often even longer.

Care and Handling Tips:

  • Respect temperature parameters. Store flowers at 34-38F.
  • Avoid high temperatures because overheating causes foliage to yellow
  • Avoid dripping on flower heads to reduce Botrytis potential
  • Give breathing room when filling buckets.

Wholesale/Retail level:

  • Chrysanths need clean solutions (Chrysal Professional #1 hydration) to insure good flow, but are not particularly sugar-needy (flower food).
  • Recommend to give a clean cut, no ABSOLUTELY do not pound stems!

RETAIL Handling

  • Give stems a fresh cut. Place in Chrysal Professional #2 processing solution (low sugar)
  • Allow bunches to drink for 2-4 hours before using in design or placing on sales floor


  • Start clean. Gives stems a fresh cut
  • Fill vases with Chrysal flower food according to direction
  • Top-up with fresh food, not tap water

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