Proper cut flower conditioning
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Proper Cut Flower Conditioning. Clean Buckets. Clean all your buckets with bleach (or effective green cleaner) & a scrub brush – to kill bacteria, fungus, etc Rinse well Use plastic or glass containers – not metal – it will corrode & contaminate the water. Cut Flower Food.

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Clean buckets
Clean Buckets

  • Clean all your buckets with bleach (or effective green cleaner) & a scrub brush – to kill bacteria, fungus, etc

  • Rinse well

  • Use plastic or glass containers – not metal – it will corrode & contaminate the water

Cut flower food
Cut Flower Food

  • Mix the appropriate amount of cut flower food

    • Improper mixtures can result in not providing enough biocides in relation to sugars

  • Using soda, aspirin or any other homemade mix isn’t as effective as cut flower food because it isn’t measured out correctly like cut flower food

  • Cut Flower food contains:

    • Sugars (help provide energy in usable form)

    • Aging retarders(growth regulators)/color enhancers

    • Chemicals to quicken absorption of water (wetting agent)

    • Bacteria killers (biocides = germicide)

    • Acidifiers to lower pH (this helps with better absorption & less bacterial growth)


  • Warm –110 Degrees- like bath water – for most flowers

    • Warm water helps remove air bubbles, making for easy water flow up the stem (warm water contains less oxygen than cold)

    • Warm water will also encourage flowers to open quicker

    • Warm water absorbs faster because warm water molecules move faster

  • Cool – for bulbs (daffodils, tulips) and any other flowers that you don’t want to open too quickly

  • Buckets should be filled 6-8” with water


  • When flowers have been out of water the exposed outer cells dry out, forming a callus, which will not absorb the water

    • Additionally, air will have entered the stem, bacteria, and other pollutants – preventing water absorption

  • Cut about 1-3 inches off the stem

  • Use a knife or very sharp pruners – if your tool is dull, it will crush the plant cells and they won’t absorb

  • Cutting under water will help prevent air bubbles, but can also pollute the stems when the water becomes unclean

  • Cut at an angle to keep the stem from sitting directly on the bottom of the bucket, where debris, etc. will clog the stem (not proven)

  • Cut between the internodes on flowers like carnations

Removing packaging foliage
Removing packaging & foliage

  • All elastics & plastic should be removed, except for roses and greens.

  • If you keep roses wrapped up they won’t blow open as fast. However, you cannot keep them wrapped for more than a few days – they will rot.

  • It is more effective to keep certain greens in plastic rather than in buckets of water

  • All foliage that would be in the water should be removed – it will rot & clog the stems

    • Be sure to avoid scraping the stems when removing leaves


  • Leave flowers out of the cooler for 3-5 hours so they can absorb correctly

  • Put roses in immediately

  • Put bulb flowers in immediately

  • Do not put tropical flowers (bird of paradise) in the cooler – they should be at warmer temperatures (so unless you have a special warmer cooler for them, keep them out) Orchids can go in the cooler.

  • If your flowers are really dehydrated, you can submerge the entire flower after it is cut into a tub of water

Floral coolers
Floral Coolers

  • Do not keep food, especially fruits, in your floral cooler – these items give off high amounts of ethylene gas which speeds up aging. Dying flowers will do the same so remove them.

  • Coolers should be kept at 38- 40 degrees F, tropical coolers at 55-60 F

  • Relative humidity of 80%

  • Must have a FLORAL cooler – non-floral coolers have one large fan blowing fast air – this dries out petals

Change water in buckets
Change water in buckets

  • You should recut stems and change the water in buckets if possible every 3 days

  • This will extend the vase life of the flower

  • Vase water has bacteria, fungi, yeasts, & mold which block xylem and produce ethylene and toxins

Special notes on flowers
Special Notes on Flowers

  • Lillies – remove anthers to prevent staining & pollination which will cause the flower to die quicker

  • Baby’s Breath – use warmer water to “pop” buds

  • Bird-of-Paradise – manually open flower heads

  • Calla – only 1” of water to minimize curling of stems

  • Roses – remove outer damaged petals (this will encourage opening as well); only remove thorns that need it – this damages tissue & will cause early death

  • Daffodil – sap is harmful to other flowers when conditioned; keep separate & do not recut stems when designing

  • Gerbera – use a rack in the bucket for support

  • Hydrangea – dip in alum (spice/pickling)

  • Snapdragons & Tulips – store in upright to prevent geotropism

  • Gladiolus – remove top bud to encourage others to open

  • Poinsettias and other flowers that secret latex – burn the end – this opens water conducting while sealing