There are many measurable factors which both positively
and negatively affect the post-harvest life of flowers,
including the type species or ‘cultivar’ of the flower
(such as Osiana roses, for example) the growing media,
light, temperature, humidity, the maturity of the flower
at the time of harvest, the time the flower spends in
cold storage prior to consumer purchase, the amount
of ethylene gas around the flower, and the cleanliness
of the water in which the flower is stored and displayed.
Everyone who handles the cut flower, from the grower
to you, the consumer, affects the longevity of that
flower. We offer the following information so that you
can learn how a flower reaches you and how you can help
fortify its lifespan.
Cut flowers travel through many hands before they
reach the consumer. The goal of each handler is to prolong
the flower’s life. The grower who grows the flower has
perhaps the greatest control over the quality and longevity
of the flower because he controls most of the factors
influencing flower life, namely the type of cultivar,
the growing media (including fertilization), the flower’s
maturity, and the light, temperature and humidity conditions
during growing. When the grower harvests the flower
it often spends 24 to 48 hours in the process of being
graded, packaged and shipped. Since, most flowers are
grown outside the US, the grower ships to an importer
who then stores the flower for a brief period, usually
a day or two, before shipping the flower to a wholesaler.
A wholesaler may hold the flower for as long as three
days before a retailer purchases the flower. A retailer
may also hold the flower for up to three days before
the consumer makes a purchase. Hence, a harvested flower
may spend anywhere from 8 to 10 days before it reaches
the consumer. While being transported between these
various handlers, the flowers are kept at a very low
temperature thereby significantly slowing the flowers’
physiological development and, in turn, prolonging their
Temperature, water quality and ethylene gas are the
most significant factors affecting the longevity of
the post-harvested flower. Most flowers are shipped
dry to the wholesaler, who then puts the flowers in
water for re-hydration. The flowers travel in refrigerated
trucks or are pre-cooled and packed with ice for transportation
by air. The grower, importer, wholesaler, and retailer
do their best to maintain the temperature of the transported
flower at approximately 34 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature greatly affects the post-harvest performance
of flowers. While cut flowers can last up to three weeks
when maintained at temperatures of 34 degrees, they
normally last 5 to 6 days at room temperature. Though
the shipping process is carefully monitored, sometimes
warming and its resulting stress on the flowers occur
at some point in this process of moving flowers from
the grower to the consumer, and so the flowers’ lifespan
is shortened. It can occur, for example, when a South
American grower sends his pre-cooled, ice-packed flowers
to the airport for shipment to Miami, and the airline
holds the boxes on the tarmac under the hot sun because
the plane is late. The flowers may warm to 60 or 70
degrees for a time.
The grower, importer, wholesaler and retailer are
unaware of the warming that occurred on the tarmac.
As usual, they carefully care for the flowers, which
will not likely show any signs of stress until the retailer
learns of their shortened lifespan in your home. This
is just one example of an unfortunate and unforeseen
case of temperature stress.
Stress from temperature changes can also occur in your
home. Flowers may be placed too near drafty doorways
or furnace vents, or when adding or changing water in
the vase, people may use water that is too hot or cold.
Any fresh water added to the floral container should
be at a moderate room temperature. By considering the
air and water temperatures you can decrease temperature
stress on your flowers and help prolong their life.
If you wish to learn more about the effects of temperature
on the post-harvest performance of flowers, including
its effects on transpiration and respiration, then please
to learn more about the effects of temperature
on Post-harvest Performance. Please keep in mind that
the additional information obtained from this link and
all subsequent links on this page are directed toward
wholesalers and retailers.