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The best care for your bulbs

Follow these tips to get maximum sales from these customer favorites.

    Bulb flowers and plants are perfect for attracting customers to your floral department. As vased arrangements, bouquets or potted plants, these versatile, colorful blooms are ideal for home décor and gift-giving. Keep your customers coming back for more by offering the highest quality, freshest plants and flowers possible. To help you with this goal, we’ve gathered care tips and merchandising advice on these blooming beauties.

cut bulb flowers
1. Remove leaves and rinse stems. Strip cut bulb flowers of any leaves that would fall below the water lines of their containers. Rinse stems to remove debris.
2. Trim stems. Cut 1 inch to 3 inches off the stems to remove dried-out portions and any dirt, debris and microbes that might have accumulated there.
3. Feed flowers well. For best results, place cut bulb flowers in a nutrient solution that is made specifically for bulb flowers and is prepared with nonfluoridated water. These solutions contain all the ingredients of standard flower-food solutions and, in addition, have hormones specifically for bulb flowers.
If using a bulb-flower-specific solution is not possible, place flowers into a standard flower-food solution. Laboratory studies show that some bulb flowers (Agapanthuses, Anemones, Irises, daffodils, tulips and callas) don’t benefit greatly from the nutrients in standard flower-food solutions, but they do benefit from the biocides, which limit the growth of harmful stem-plugging microbes.
4. Use cold nutrient solutions. Solutions made with cold water help keep flower blooms from opening too quickly.
5. Refrigerate immediately after processing. After processing cut bulb flowers, place them into a cooler for a few hours and allow them to hydrate there. Most types of cut bulb flowers should be stored between 33 F and 35 F.

  tips for merchandising success

BUY THE BEST Your stock’s quality can set you apart. Consider offering a guarantee. If you don’t have faith in your fresh products, why should your customers?
GROUP BY COLOR Group flowers and plants by color and variety to create maximum impact and attract more attention to your displays.
SELL THE GREEN, TOO Plants in full bloom will attract attention, but encourage customers to buy plants in bud stage, giving them weeks of decorative life.
DISPLAY FOR EFFECT A display with a central theme or featured flower, with several satellite displays to support it, should be placed in your department’s most heavily trafficked area to draw attention.
MAKE PRICING CLEAR Consumers don’t want to hunt for pricing information and are more likely to commit to a purchase if they’re armed with all the information they need. Use overall signage or individual plant tags to share pricing information. And if you’re running a special on potted bulbs, make sure that’s communicated in several places in your store with signage and also with your public-address system.
UPGRADE CONTAINERS Place the plastic pots into larger decorative containers, adding a layer of soil, moss, wood chips or gravel across the top to hide the plastic pots. Or transplant the bulbs themselves into new soil in an upgraded container. For a quick fix, wrap the plastic pots in jute or patterned papers or wraps and secure with staples or ribbons. You also can place coordinating containers and wraps nearby and allow consumers to choose their favorite combinations.
KEEP FLOWERS TOGETHER If you are selling containers of multiple bulb flowers, choose the same bulb plant in the same color within each container for maximum impact.
KEEP IT COOL To keep your potted bulbs from showing off their colors too early, keep them in a room that is as cool as possible without freezing. If purchased at the correct stage, potted bulbs should hold for several days in your department without loss of bloom life for consumers. In extreme circumstances, if bulb plants are developing too quickly, they can be kept in your cooler, but if buds or blooms are present, they can’t tolerate temperatures lower than 40 F for longer than one week, or the foliage and blooms may show signs of damage.
Source: Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center


potted bulb flowers
1. Market when buds are green. In order for your customers to enjoy their flowers as long as possible, sell potted bulbs when their buds are green or have just a tinge of color.
2. Water frequently. Potted bulb flowers need to receive water often but not in excessive amounts.
3. Monitor interior light levels. Potted bulb flowers do best in light levels of 50 to 100 foot-candles.
4. Keep plants sheltered. If displaying potted bulb flowers outdoors, make sure they are safe from frost and excessive moisture.
5. Limit time in the cooler. Potted bulb flowers can be stored in a cooler at 33 F to 35 F, but they should not remain in the cooler for more than three days.

potted and cut bulb flowers
Most bulb flowers are sensitive to ethylene gas. Ask suppliers if flowers have been treated with an ethylene inhibitor. Ideally, this is done at the grower level or during transportation.

  additional advice for specific bulb flowers

ALSTROEMERIAS Excessive removal of leaves other than those that fall below the water line can reduce vase life. To reduce leaf yellowing, use a pretreatment designed to treat imbalances in Alstroemerias.
AMARYLLISES These bulb flowers require higher temperatures than others, so refrigerate them at 41 F to 50 F.
DAFFODILS Isolate cut daffodils from other cut bulb flowers because they exude a mucilage that can reduce the vase life of other flowers exposed to it, especially tulips and Anemones. Store cut daffodils at 36 F to 40 F. Provide bright light to potted daffodils because higher light intensity will help prevent “stem topple.”
FREESIAS These fragrant beauties can lose their scent while in a cooler, but they will regain it within a few hours of being in a warmer environment.
LILIES Remove the pollen-bearing anthers of these flowers as they open to avoid staining hands, clothing and other items.
TULIPS These flowers are geotropic, meaning they respond to the forces of gravity. Therefore, keep them in an upright position to keep their stems from curving upward. Tulips are the only bulb flowers that do not show a response to ethylene gas.


Photos courtesy of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center.


Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2009
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.