Flowers 101

A Library of Flowers.

Anemone

The Anemone (A. coronaria) has been cultivated for centuries due to its guileless beauty. They have no use as a foodstuff, and yet they took up valuable space in the vegetable gardens of the Middle Ages.

Care & Handling

Inspect flowers carefully upon arrival checking that the petals are not damaged. Check also that stems are neither slimy nor limp. Remove any foliage that is exhibiting signs of yellowing or blackening, and make sure these do not fall into the water as they turn the water quite putrid. Stems should be cut and the flowers hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative. Change water daily.

Anthurium

When this exotic flower was first seen in Europe, it was called “Painter’s Palette” due the large spathe. Dynamic, fairly hardy blooms are available in a large range of colors. Particularly fashionable right now are green varieties such as Midori and Green and White Obaki types.

Care & Handling

The stems should be cut and placed in water. These flowers should never be put in coolers, but kept in a space with an ambient temperature of 55-65 degrees F., humidity of 80% or better and free from drafts. If they are kept in area with low humidity then they should be misted regularly. When processing the flowers cut stems and place in lukewarm water.

Bells Of Ireland

Robust annual that is popular for its cup-shaped calyx that gives rise to its name. Flowers are white, very diminutive and in the center of the calyx. They are not relevant to the product. Foliage is removed during harvest to expose the decorative calyces that are evenly distributed along the stem.

Care & Handling

To process simply cut at the base and place in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative. Take care not to place too many bunches in a container as they are easily crushed.

Calla lily

One of the most beautiful flowers of all time, which when fully open, rightly deserves the nickname “Magnificent Beauty,” which was the meaning of this flower in the Victorian “Language of Flowers.”

Care & Handling

Inspect flowers carefully upon arrival checking that the stems are neither slimy nor limp. The flowers plump and well-hydrated and stems firm. Stems should be cut and the flowers hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Cockscomb

This is the notable form of Celosia and composes a group of cultivars known as the “Cristata” family. In English we call these “Cockscombs” as they resemble the red comb on Cockerels. In Spanish they have the same name “Cresta de gallo”. Cockscomb has highly decorative flowers, whose intricate bifurcations resemble a brain like structure. Vibrant summer and fall flower from sub-tropical climates originally.

Care & Handling

Leaves should be turgid, but strip them off if they are not viable. Flowers have good vase-life. Neither stem nor flower ought to be faded and both ought to be turgid and well-hydrated. Examine for brown, dehydrated or dropping clusters of florets. Stems should be cut and the flowers hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Craspedia (Billy Balls)

Hardy flower that is originally a native of New Zealand and Australia, but is now cultivated around the world for its ornamental value. Craspedia globosa is known variously as Billy Balls, Billy Buttons, Golden Drumsticks or simply Craspedia. Exceptionally good flower for drying. The key is the color, as the fresh flowers are a really bright luminous yellow with distinct dimples. The flowers are round to oval, and the stems are generally free from leaves.

Care & Handling

Stems should be cut cleanly and placed immediately into lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

cymbidium orchid

In terms of cultivation for pure ornamental value, the Cymbidium probably is the oldest genus appreciated by man. Most varieties that we know today are derived from six or seven species from the Himalayan foothills in India, Nepal and China. When discovered by the European public at large they became incredibly popular, as they were compatible with the cool temperate climate; they offered a seemingly endless quantity of varieties which were ideal for collectors and were naturally extremely beautiful.

Care & Handling

Closely examine the flowers for damage and also check for transparent petals, exaggerated veins and limp blooms. Look closely at the blooms for blackening to see if the lip is turning brown. Cymbidiums are generally shipped in water tubes. Cut stems and place into lukewarm water.

Dahlia

Stunning class of dynamic flowers in an almost endless array of colors, shapes and sizes, ranging from “Dinner Plate” to tiny BB pompoms. Dahlias are originally from Mexico, and after short-lived trials as a competitor for the potato, they languished until rediscovered in the 19th century and greatly promoted by the Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon.

Care & Handling

Inspect for signs of wilting and shattering, Handle Dahlias at all times with a lot of care because as well as the flowers being delicate, the stems are hollow and somewhat brittle. Remove lower leaves and cut crisply at an angle using a sharp utensil. The flowers should be hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative. Dahlias release a lot of bacteria and tissue into the water so it is recommended that water be changed every day, and must be changed and re-cut every other day.

Dianthus

Dianthus is in fact the Latin name for the entire carnation family including Standard Carnations, “Sweet William” and the petite flowers that we call Dianthus commercially. These tend to resemble the old-fashioned flowers of the last century, and indeed the last several centuries. The word is derived form two Greek words; dios meaning “divine” and anthos meaning “flower”.

Care & Handling

Flowers should be crisp and not soft. The blooms should have all open and not buried in the large calyx. Flowers cut too tight may not develop properly. There should be absolutely no evidence of shattering. Colors of Dianthus or Eolus should be bright and clear. Leaves and stems should be erect, turgid and dark green. Stems should be cut cleanly and crisply and placed immediately into lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Eryngium (thistle)

Unusual and dynamic, Eryngium varieties are related to thistles, and the stems, leaves and flowers are similarly prickly. They are available in various shades as well as sizes.

Care & Handling

They are very hardy flowers, but should be checked for mechanical damage. Always handle carefully as they have very sharp spiny bracts which may puncture the skin. Cut stems with a sharp knife at an angle, remove all leaves and shoots from the lower stem and place the flowers in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Eucalyptus

Important group of trees and shrubs that yield interesting foliages in a wide array of shapes and sizes. Originally from Australia where they are known as “Gum Trees”, they were imported by the railroad companies in the 19th century, and planted alongside the tracks. Eucalyptus is fast growing and in time the railroad companies would harvest the timber for railroad ties.Fresh eucalyptus foliage has a signature pungent aroma, and the leaves are somewhat sticky. Eucalyptus leaves are generally silver, silvery-green and gray, as well as some types turning autumn shades of rusty brown and peach.

Care & Handling

Cut stems with a sharp blade, removing foliage that may fall in water, and place stems in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Freesia

Wonderful spring flower with pleasing fragrance and used by florists for the last hundred years. Recently, the genus has undergone an intense focus by breeders, and the new double-flowered varieties with long, robust stems are quite striking.

Care & Handling

Inspect flowers carefully upon arrival checking that the stems are not slimy, thin or weak and that there are no flowers dropping from the stem. Stems should be cut and the flowers hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Gerbera

Genus of flowers that originated in South Africa, and discovered by Dutch botanist Jan Gronovius in 1737. It is not clear why he assigned the name of Traugott Gerber to his new discovery, as Dr. Gerber was a modest employee in the service of the Russian court, although he was commissioned to run a garden for medical purposes which remains today as the oldest botanical garden in Moscow.

Care & Handling

Gerber Daisies that are shipped dry need a little more care in handling. Generally the stems will be dehydrated and will be limp at the neck. If they are cut and hydrated thus, the stems will “set” with the flowers bent over. Therefore attention and planning for Gerber processing is essential. If upwards facing flowers are desired they will have to be wired straight or stems will need to be placed in straws to hold head upright. Remember, whatever position the Gerber is in when placed in water is how it will remain after the stems become turgid. Cut stems at an angle and hydrate in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea was given its name because the seed capsule resembles a water cup, the name being a composite derived from the Greek for water , Hydra; and cup, angeion.

Care & Handling

Examine the blooms carefully, especially looking for slimy or brown flowers within the dense umbels. It is important to remove any brown flowers that you find. Remove all lower foliage, and most of the upper foliage. This is because the vascular system is very delicate and leaves divert energy needed to draw water into the flower heads. Stems should be cut cleanly and crisply and placed immediately into water. Cutting underwater is recommended. The flowers should be hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Hypericum

These flowers are hybrids of the famous St. John’s Wart. Their commercial value is in the ornamental fruits that follow the flowers. Hypericum features stems with sprays of berries and deep green foliage. It is quite hardy, but can exhibit damage due to poor growing or storage.

Care & Handling

Check fruits for any damage, particularly blackening or collapse of skin, as well as the leaves for yellowing or evidence of rust or leaf-miner. Hydrate flower in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Iris

The florists’ iris are descended form the Iris xiphium or Spanish Iris and Iris xiphioides known as English Iris, itself descended from the Spanish Iris.

Care & Handling

These ornamental cabbages are strong. They are bright and rich when fresh. Check for limp rosette as well as discolored or leaves. Otherwise these are relatively indestructible. Stems should be cut and the flowers hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative. Water should be changed daily.

Kale

There is several varieties of this ornamental cabbage available, with colors in white, pink, lavender and purple. They have a large uniform rosette, resembling an oversized rose.

Care & Handling

They are very hardy flowers, but should be checked for mechanical damage. Always handle carefully as they have very sharp spiny bracts which may puncture the skin. Cut stems with a sharp knife at an angle, remove all leaves and shoots from the lower stem and place the flowers in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Kangaroo Paw

Kangaroo Paws are originally from Western Australia and over the last twenty years have penetrated the US markets, and indeed into most flower markets worldwide. They are commercially grown in Australia today, but also in California, Colombia and Japan. The common name was given because the flower resembles the clutching paws of Australia’s emblematic mammal.

Care & Handling

They should be erect and turgid, displaying distinct colors and short hairs on the stems and flowers. Process the flowers by cutting with a sharp blade and place into lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Larkspur Lavender

Wild Larkspur, or that species known as Forking Larkspur (consolida regalis) has been widely cultivated for the last thousand years or so, and it is probable that Roman herbalist Pseudo Apuleius Barbarus mentioned it in his manuscript written in 5th century AD when he referred to a plant known as Consolida.

Care & Handling

Inspect the blooms and check for shattering, shedding or dropping of flowers. Lower flowers ought to be very open, with a reasonable spread of the inflorescence open almost to the top. Stems should be cut cleanly and crisply and placed immediately into water. Any leaves that will be submerged should be stripped. Larkspurs are extremely sensitive to ethylene and release a lot of bacteria and tissue into the water so it is recommended that water be changed every day. The flowers should be hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Leucadendron (Safari Sunset)

Family of about 80 species, these plants are common in South Africa and are now cultivated around the world. The flowers are generally insignificant, although some varieties have interesting cones at certain times of year. They are exceptionally hardy, and come in a range of autumnal tones ranging from rust to lemon-yellow.

Care & Handling

The flower is diminutive and generally overlooked at the top of the foliage. Check that foliage is not faded, indicating they have been stored, otherwise there is little that can affect leucadendrons. Remove all foliage below the water line and cut and place into lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Leucospermum (Pincushion protea)

Leucospermum, or Pin-Cushion flower, is a member of the protea family and is indigenous to South Africa. Most of the Pin-Cushions in the marketplace are cultivars of Leucospermum cordifolium, which feature flower heads of almost perfect spherical shape. These come in a range of bright tones of orange, yellow and red.

Care & Handling

Pincushions have a long vase-life. After unpacking, always check the stems for crushed or impacted flowers as damaged florets can rapidly turn black. Remove lower foliage from stems, cut and place into lukewarm water.

Lily

The wonderful class of flowers we know as Asiatic Lilies today, are really an All-American achievement. Unlike so many other flowers, most lilies we use in the cut flower trade today are result of developments made here in the USA.

Care & Handling

Lilies should arrive with some blooms opening and others tightly closed. These flowers, when open, have anthers (brownish orange part of flower that emits pollen). The product should be monitored daily and anthers should be removed immediately when visible (if anthers are not removed, they can fall on surfaces and stain). Lilies should be hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Lisianthus

Lisianthus was introduced into Japan around the late 1930’s. Over the years aspects of the wild varieties were stabilized, desirable traits fixed and a flower we would recognize today was produced. Lisianthus have a long vase life.

Care & Handling

Check the blooms carefully for water spots, brown spots and blemishes. Remove the leaves from the lower part of the stems. The flowers should be cut and hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Ornithogalum

Group of flowers that are native to the Middle East, Southern Europe and South Africa. There are two predominant varieties which are cultivated commercially for the florist; namely Ornithogalum thyrsoiides and O. arabicum. These flowers are originally from arid regions of South Africa, Russia and South West Asia. The contemporary hybrids are generally very hardy and long lasting. Stems are firm and erect with racemes of flowers at the top of them. The flowers are star-shaped with an eye in the middle.

Care & Handling

Very hardy flower with good vase-life. Stems should be cut and the flowers hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Pompon Button

These Chrysanthemums, one of the work-horses of the floral industry, are sprays which are called Pompons (or Pompoms), as opposed to the disbudded Mums we call “China-mums” that look like Pompoms.

Care & Handling

Stems should be cut cleanly and crisply and placed immediately into water. Any leaves that will be submerged should be removed. Chrysanthemums specifically, and composite in general, generate a lot of ethylene and release a lot of bacteria and tissue into the water so it is recommended that water be changed every day. The flowers should be hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Ranunculus

The florists’ ranunculus have been cultivated to decorate gardens and interiors alike for some five hundred years, at least. The flowers were introduced into Europe in the 16th century from Turkey, although a handful of varieties were acknowledged.

Care & Handling

Check that stems are neither slimy nor limp. Remove any foliage that is exhibiting signs of yellowing or blackening, and make sure these do not fall into the water as they turn the water quite putrid. Stems should be cut and the flowers hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative. Change water daily.

Rose

Roses are probably the most popular flower in history. Evidence suggest that roses have been used by mankind for thousands of years, as quite apart from its intrinsic beauty, it was valued for its fruits for a source of vitamin C as well as for its restorative powers, also for its beautiful wood and as a highly valuable ingredient in essential oils and perfumes.

Care & Handling

Roses are probably the most popular flower in history. Evidence suggest that roses have been used by mankind for thousands of years, as quite apart from its intrinsic beauty, it was valued for its fruits for a source of vitamin C as well as for its restorative powers, also for its beautiful wood and as a highly valuable ingredient in essential oils and perfumes.

Spider Mum Green

Look at petals and feel compact texture of flowers with fingers. They should be crisp, not soft. There should be absolutely no evidence of shattering. Colors of all Disbuds should be bright and clear. Leaves and stems should be turgid and dark green, neither blackening nor yellowing.

Care & Handling

Remove lower leaves and cut crisply at an angle using a sharp utensil. The flowers should be hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative. Be sure to select an appropriate container as they are tall and heavy, and generally need stout support.

Succulent

Succulents are any plants that have thick, strong, fibrous leaves and stems designed to store water indefinitely and to distribute it when deprived of all other sources of water. Succulents that are prized as houseplants today once grew wild in arid regions where they were forced, due to ever-changing climate patterns, to adapt to having less water at their disposal.

Care & Handling

Succulents can be grown either inside or outside but, like other plants, they need plenty of light. The amount of water required depends on many factors, like the type of container (terracotta dries out faster than other pots), the size of container, the height of container, time of year, position, heat, humidity etc. Most succulents are very hardy and, unlike many other plants, thrive on neglect (they require minimal care). If you are unsure as to how often to water them, leave it until the plant starts to shrivel slightly or go limp, then water well. Repeat this process.

Tillandsia

Part of the Bromeliad family, Tillandsia can be found in nature throughout Central, South America, Mexico and southern parts of the United States. They make great additions to bouquets and are great for boutonniere work.

Care & Handling

These plants may not need soil to survive but they do need water. They should be soaked in water at least 2 hours for small to medium plants and overnight for large plants. After they soak, gently shake them dry and allow them to air dry. The plants will look dull in color and feel light if they are in need of water.

Waratah

Proteaceous material form Eastern Australia. Waratahs, or Telopea speciossima, are woody flowers with bright red flower heads. As such they are very hardy and have a long vase-life.

Care & Handling

After unpacking, always check the inflorescence for crushed or impacted flowers as damaged florets can rapidly turn black. Remove lower foliage from stems, cut and place into lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Yarrow Yellow

Yarrow, both Achillea filipendulina and A. millefolium have been used as an ornamental cut flower whether fresh or dried for hundreds of years, and prior to that for many centuries as an herbal remedy. It was well known to the Ancient Greeks as a powerful healing agent for external and internal maladies. Achillea or Yarrow is extremely long-lasting, and the flower heads last much longer than the foliage.

Care & Handling

Stems should be cut cleanly and crisply and placed immediately into water. Any leaves that will be submerged should be removed. Achillea releases a lot of bacteria and tissue into the water so it is recommended that the water be changed and re-cut every other day. Check foliage for discoloration and remove as it will decay before the flowers. The flowers should be hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.

Zinnia

Zinnia is a genus of plants of the sunflower tribe within the daisy family. They are native to scrub and dry grassland in an area stretching from the Southwestern United States to South America, with a centre of diversity in Mexico.

Care & Handling

Flowers are very prone to damage so handle with great care. They easily crease, bruise and get crushed. Stems should be cut cleanly and crisply, and then placed immediately into water. Any leaves that will be submerged should be removed. The flowers should be hydrated in lukewarm water treated with floral preservative.