cutting and transporting lilies

anniew(4-5/PA)July 15, 2005

When do you cut your lilies, so that they have color, yet aren't so open as to be easily damaged in buckets and/or when customers are "handling" them. Do you sleeve them, or bunch them? Petals always seem to get bruised or knocked off. Help! Thanks. Ann

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I have always read that lilies are shipped when the bud shows color, but not open. I would think sleeves would be a must with customers handling your flowers. I know I often damage my own when I get in a hurry putting bouquets together.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 12:58PM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

It's a catch-22, isn't it? If the lilies are open enough to be the main event to sell the bouquet, they are prone to petals coming off. Sleeves work well if there are only one or two flowers, but they have to be on the very top, not the sides, or the sleeves themselves will break the petals off. If none of the lilies, or only one flower, are open, people are less likely to buy it.

The Arnoskys have a good lily article in the current Growing for Market. They cut lilies at what they call the balloon stage. I figure that means the buds are colored and starting to get fat just prior to opening. For them, that's great, most of their flowers are shipped, but mine need to appeal to the customer the day after being cut. Most of the time, that's not a problem, as I transport and display bouquets in vases. This week, it was a problem. I had WAY too many Asiatic and Asiatic-cross lilies, then ran out of time, energy, and will to keep making bouquets around 1 a.m. (with a 5 a.m. wake-up time for going to market the next day). I put the rest of the lilies in buckets and sold them by the stem. There were six buckets of them, and I don't think even half of them sold. People handling them broke off so many petals, they looked really shabby. I had to keep picking up petals from the ground around them, or it looked like they were dying (they weren't), even though they all had plenty of buds that were yet to open. So, I've learned several lessons. One, don't let the lilies get so darned big and/or plant fewer of them. Two, don't sell them by the stem, or cut off all open flowers except any that are just starting to open, if selling them by the stem is absolutely necessary. Three, start harvesting the day before, so there will be time, energy, and motivation to keep making bouquets out of them until they're used up.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 3:58PM
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crowspice(z4B IL)

Jeanne: Ditto on the lily frustration factors! I knew there was a reason I have never been overly thrilled with the species! But what really hit home in your reply was the knocking off at 1AM in order to get some little bit of sleep before the way-too-early wake-up call! Glad to know I am not the only sleepless flower grower out there!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 12:08AM
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I have two customers who will buy the lily stems in bud form. Most want one flower open with lots of buds showing. When making bouquets at market, many times we use two stems -- one in bud form, and the other mostly in color. The customers will usually come back to tell us the lilies still look good in the vase, the dahlias lasted a few days; and, they usually buy a fresh bouquet.

Here is a photo of simple lily bouquets mass produced by the children for farmers market.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 9:02AM
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Noni Morrison

FLOWERFARMER I would buy that in a minute if I were buying flowers. How nice that the children are growing up so they are not afraid of flowers and arranging them! Ahhhh Lilies!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 11:07AM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Hi - here's another person who operates on 4 hours sleep before the Sat. Market! We quit at 12:30...and put things away and it was 1 am! I too am overwhelmed with own fault, since I planted 3000 more this year! I am having a hard time picking them because I'm not sure with the colors, especially the lighter colors! So, I think I cut them all, then the next day pop more are open! Then, I lose petals that way...

I do bunch them and put them in sleeves in square buckets in the cooler, with the lights off! That way, if some do open before I need them, they're less likely to lose the petals.

Flowerfarmer - beautiful bouquets! Is the white flower cleome? Does it hold up well?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 6:43PM
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thanks for all the replies. One more related question. If you sleeve, what size sleeve do you buy?
When I look at the three sizes the wholesale florist has, I never know, and Johnnies just gives dimensions. Can anyone recommend a size (dimensions) for a small lily bouquet, say 2 or 3 stems mostly in bud and a little filler?
I don't think there is any other flower that I do that I have this petal breaking problem. I guess it's just the nature of the beast (and what a beautiful beast it is!). Ann

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 9:48PM
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For some odd reason, I just reread this thread. Like I have time to be on the computer; but, I needed a bouquet break!!! Alas, we have not one lily for bouquets this week. We have hit a lull in the lily production. We didn't know what to do without our glorious lilies. We love the lilies. The customers love the lilies. Who cannot love the lilies? We have buckets and buckets of lisianthus and dahlias. We just had to take a step back and regroup and remember how to make those bouquets without the lilies.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 5:52PM
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susiq(NW AR 6B)

Beautiful bouquets, as usual! What are your containers? Galvanized aluminum tubs spray painted terra cotta? If so, what a cool idea. If not, pray tell what they are. They are striking in the photo.

I recognize euphorbia, which I've never grown--it's very cooling and pretty. And zinnias or dahlias, can't tell from the photo, something white that looks like snaps, and some kind of grass. Can/will you label everything for us on your next bouquet break?

Speaking from the "voice" of one who's never been to market w/ her flowers, and is honestly curious but NOT critical, how do your customers respond to so many similarly made bouquets? You have that wonderful mass of color, but since they (look like) they're all the same, don't you get people saying, "I want mine different."?

I'm sure most of you market sellers have to do the same--I think Jeanne & Liza, you've both said you pre-make your bouquets. Does anyone complain about "sameness" to you?

Maybe it's the same mentality that allows bedding plant buyers to ALL buy the same shade of bronze-leafed begonias every spring, no matter that someone they know is ALSO buying the same color right next to them. Or even for women to all happen to wear the same "in" outfit each season.

Since most of my stuff is "in transition" (hardly anything avail!) I have time to post "random" questions this afternoon!

Maybe SOMEDAY I'll get to have this same question asked of me after I've just made and sold X dozen flower bouquets in X very short days!


    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 6:32PM
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Well..... We get alot of customers having parties on the weekend, who want bouquets that are somewhat similiar. The children and one of our helpers worked on the bouquets for the tubs today. They are going to appear similiar because they had access to all the same flowers. Twenty of the tubs of flowers, 15 crates of Flowers-to-Go and many, many, many buckets of loose flowers go to one market. We have to have pre-made bouquets for customers who don't have time to wait, and we also need to have the front and side tables looking nice. We have no complaints because you may not remember; but, we make European Hand-Tied Bouquets at market as illustrated by one of the children at last Saturday's market. This all takes place in the back of our booth. It's all open and airy, and we set our back tables in whatever configuration we need. The front table is stationary. It's open and inviting and the customers feel comfortable enough to walk around the front table to the back of the booth. We are also fortunate to be located next to a walkway into the market. We take full advantage of the visibility.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 8:08PM
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honeybunny442(z6 TN)

Square buckets? Where does one get square buckets?
Kitty litter buckets?

Great photos everybody!!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 3:32PM
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Buckets you say? There are square ones, and round ones, and rectangular ones, and tall ones, and short ones, and new ones, and old ones......

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 6:26PM
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Noni Morrison

Wow, how long does it take to wash them all after your weekend markets?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 12:14AM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

I pre-make my bouquets, but I make no two alike. Even the prices vary, so much so that I put a price on every vase. So there are no "sameness" complaints. Lately a couple of ladies have started wanting bouquets for their church, and they want two that are fairly alike - but they don't want to order them ahead of time and neither comes weekly, so I never know whether to make similar bouquets nor how long to hold them, so I don't worry about it. First thing in the morning, at market opening, there are often some that are at least similar enough to work, but neither lady comes in that early. And this year is the very first time that has happened. I think one of the appeals of my bouquets is that they ARE all different from each other. I compete with three other flower sellers, two of whom sell formula bouquets that are all pretty much alike, mostly smaller and much cheaper than mine. They have no trouble selling their bouquets. With so many choices, customers can choose the option they like. I assume the church ladies don't buy the all-alike ones because they happen to be too small for church displays. None of those vendors offer big bouquets.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 12:48PM
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honeybunny442(z6 TN)

Wow, love those buckets! (hate washing 'em though)
How I wish I could take a long road trip and visit everybody and see them at work. We have such a variety of growers here, from tiny ones like me to big ones like Flowerfarmer/Jeanne/Steve and others!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 12:57PM
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Passenger transport, or travel, is divided into public and private transport. Public is scheduled services on fixed routes, while private is vehicles that provide ad hoc services at the riders desire. The latter offers better flexibility, lift gate delivery but has lower capacity, and a higher environmental impact.

Here is a link that might be useful: bay area courier service

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 2:03AM
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