Another floral preservative question

PrettyPosies(z5 CT)June 5, 2005

I am switching from selling in my front yard to doing farmer's markets. Trying to improve my techniques.

I have been picking into buckets of chlorinated water (1 tsp bleach/gal water). Is there any problem with then putting the flowers into vases filled with floralife solution? My trial bouquets are 24 hours old and look o.k. so far.

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Using buckets of clorinated water is killing any bacteria you would. But, some flowers aren't going to be happy with the bleach water. I would clean the buckets first with bleach water and rinse well. You can then cut directly into plain water; and, then transfer the flowers to buckets filled with Floralife or Jeanne's recipe for holding flowers until you make the arrangements.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 12:47PM
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PrettyPosies(z5 CT)

Thanks flower farmer -

You have been most generous with your time & hard-earned floral wisdom.

I never considered switching to new buckets. I've even swished bunches with obviously dirty stems in a bucket of clear water before putting them into the chlorinated water. Your way - simple is best.

I found Jeanne's recipe. It contains a bit of bleach, half as much as I was using. Does that mean I shouldn't use it with some flowers? I only know of dahlias having a problem with chlorine.

Just read zinnias won't like the sugar.

Shall I expect to hear about one that doesn't like the vinegar?

Ha, Ha.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 1:38PM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

Dahlias do just fine with it. So do glads and lilies. I brought those up only because somebody said glads don't like one of the ingredients, although I don't remember which ingredient it was, and somebody said lilies don't like preservatives. I don't think either one had actually tried my recipe on glads or lilies. I don't know about zinnias because I can't grow them here.

I used to use a teaspoon of bleach per gallon instead of the half teaspoon I use now. It somehow removed fragrance from dianthus (Sweet Williams). I switched to the half-teaspoon on dianthus and tried it on the others, and hey, everybody liked it! So that's what they all get now.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 1:51PM
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Zinnias don't like sugar. The best thing we have found for zinnias is just plain water. We tell the customer if they have city water that the zinnias will hold up best if they pick up a bottle of dionized distilled water and keep it on hand. City water contains boron which is death to zinnias. After I get through this crazy weekend, I will look up the article. And, we always use the professional solutions for our dahlias and lilies. They do not like bleach. Maybe I will be able to find that article too. There are packets of flower food available now to give customers for the bouquets that contain dahlias and lilies.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 2:54PM
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Can someone please tell me what Jeanne's floral preservative recipe is, I am unable to get to the posted link.



    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 6:42AM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

My lilies last up to three weeks in my preservative, opening all the buds. If that's bleach intolerance, I'll live with it! Dahlias do fine also, although I haven't timed them this this year and don't remember their vase life from last year. But there isn't any boron in our water, so maybe that makes a difference. We are lucky to have our own very pure well water.

I finally grew some zinnias in the greenhouse, but there are too few flowers taking up too much space for it to be cost-effective, so I might not do it again. If they continue to produce for a long time, that would be great. We'll see. I cut them only into plain water, as flowerfarmer recommended, and they did fine.

My preservative recipe: per gallon of water, 2 TBS plain white sugar, 2 TBS cheapo white vinegar, 1/2 tsp. plain bleach. The easiest way is to put the sugar and vinegar in the bucket, add hot water and swish to dissolve the sugar, then add tepid or cold water. Do not add the bleach until at least half the water is in. It combines with the vinegar to form a dangerous gas if added when the solution is less dilute. Solution keeps at least 5 days, tightly capped, in my uninsulated garage. Re-stir if it has been sitting awhile before use. If you don't smell the bleach, it's too old, throw it out.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 1:30PM
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Dahlias aren't affected by boron; however zinnias are. It isn't necessarily our water that we are concerned about. We are on a well system. However, one of our markets is in a city with a municipal water supply system. This water often contains boron. So, our concern is the water the customer would be using after purchasing a bouquet of zinnias. Our recommendation for them is dionized distilled water. This information was derived from research done by the University of North Carolina. They have done extensive research on zinnias and the effects of water supply and preservative usage.

We grow two acres of dahlias; and, are planning four acres next year. We're always interested in vase life of these beautiful flowers. Here's the latest information on dahlias by one of the large growers: Corralitos.....

Here is a link that might be useful: Extending vase life of cut dahlias

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 10:23PM
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Flowerfarmer, do you have a link from University of North Carolina on that research you are talking about? Would you mind telling us your way of harvesting and keeping zinnias and how many vase life days you get on your zinnias?
If anyone of you veteran growers have any tips, us new growers would sure appreciate it.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 5:48PM
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Vase life on the zinnias is 7 days. The thing with zinnias is super clean buckets. They are bleached after each and every use. Bacteria will reduce these flowers to mush in no time flat. I'll look up the information on the research the first chance I have. I'm just coming off a Wednesday market. This market is just as busy for us as our Saturday markets. It's in a tourist town and just a super location during the peak season. Right about now we are doing the crash and burn thing. We begin again tomorrow preparing for our Saturday markets. So, anyway I jotted a note to myself; and, I will forward that information soon.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 8:48PM
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Thanks for replying. It is nice of you to forward that being as busy as you are. Good luck with your market.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 10:25PM
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howardv(z5/6 NY)

this particular link says clearly NOT to use plain sugar, dextrose instead.

Listerine is also suggested as an alternative. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 9:42AM
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I cut all my flowers and put them in lukewarm preservative water. I don't see any difference in shelf life that would encourage me to have multiple ways of processing different flowers, especially since I often put more than one kind in a bucket. The buckets are soap cleaned, then rinsed with bleach water, then clean water rinsed. Sometimes I take the preservative water bucket to the field, sometimes I just pick an armful and take them to the table to strip leaves and then recut and put in the preservative water.
I guess my flowers haven't read what works and what doesn't!!!
I'd suggest you try each type using whatever is your standard method. "Research" is often the best test, since there are so many variables: variety, clean buckets, water quality, preservative ingredients, etc.
University research is a great starting place, but trying those things out under your own unique conditions may give you different answers. For instance, they used to say that flowers should be cut "under water" and then they modified that greatly with later research. So, read about the basic concepts, but do your own thinking and experimentation on a sample bunch or two. It actually makes it all quite interesting...especially if you find an easier or surefire way of doing something better/faster/greater shelf life.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 4:42PM
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Nichols Gardens Seeds have a tip in their catalogue to preserve zinnias (and other flowers):1/4 teaspoon of citric acid per gallon of water. I tried it, and a regular customer of mine noticed right away that my zinnias lasted longer, asked if I was doing anything different. I dont like to bleach for environmental reasons.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 10:28AM
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