FAQs: Botrytis, Temperature, Ethylene, Fumigation, Flower Food & Handling Issues

Written by Gay Smith


What flowers are candidates for Botrytis infection?

  • All of them! It is a non-specific fungus (loves fruits, flowers, veggies, foliage)

Botrytis spores are like cold germs. They are always present just waiting for the right conditions to germinate. What do Botrytis spores need to germinate?

  • Four continuous hours of “free water”, whether than is a micro layer of condensation, dripping stems on flower faces or a splash inside a bouquet sleeve.
  • Any part of the plant is susceptible, but soft petal tissues are especially vulnerable
  • Botrytis attacks live and dead tissues (so sweep up green bits and trash)

Photo Of Botrytis Flower Infection

Ethylene—that colorless, odorless gas that is deadly (literally) to flowers

How can you identify ethylene damage in flowers?

  • Petal color appears bluish (obvious in roses, carnations)
  • Shattering florets in delphiniums, wax flower, limonium or snap dragons. Lots of petals in bottom of sleeves:
  • Buds and leaves fall off stems when flowers are handled
  • Asiatic and LA hybrid lily buds appear crepe-y or shriveled. Immature buds fall off
  • Stock blooms appear shriveled and transparent
  • Alstroe flowers appear transparent
  • White spray Dendrobian orchids appear a weird color of chartreuse green

Photo of Ethylene Flower Damage

Photo of Ethylene Flower Damage on Daffodil

Fumigation damage

From time to time flowers get fumigated as they pass through USDA in Miami on their way into the country from Colombia or Ecuador. Fumigation damage shows up in a common yellow filler flower called Solidaster. What does the damage look like?

  • Solidaster and Solidago florets turn brown
  • Foliage turns brown / black on asters and Liatris

Temperature Spikes during transit

If a trailer load heats up during transit, some flowers suffer yellow foliage problems. What 2 common flower types will display yellow foliage if they get over-heated?

  • Yellow foliage on Chrysanthemums
  • Yellow foliage on Statice
  • Aster foliage turns yellow when heated

Photo of an Overheated Solidaster

What are common indicators of damaging high temperatures or temperature fluctuations in transit?

  • Sleeves and grower wraps have lots of condensation inside
  • Roses have floppy necks and are blown open
  • Stinky odor when boxes are opened
  • Limonium odor is overwhelming!

Flowers in treated water (low-sugar flower food):

What’s a T-bag and where do I find it?

  • Chrysal T-bags are pre-measured dose of flower food for wet-pack shipping and sales display.
  • Chrysal T-Bags offer a visual check that flowers are in treated water. All wet-packed flowers should have a printed t-bag floating in the bottom of the bucket.
  • Chrysal T-bag technology has two formulations: hormone formula for bulbous flowers (Bulb T-bag) and all-purpose T-bags for all other flowers

Consumer Flower Food on bunches (full sugar)

There are lots of different flower food packets on bunches. What good are they?

  • Chrysal flower food packets offer the nutrients needed to maximize flower longevity in consumers’ homes.
  • Flower food contains three basic components: acidifier to boost flow in stems, germicides to check pollution and sugar to provide energy for buds to open and hold in the vase

Photo of Sugar and Light Deficit Effects On a Protea

Mechanical Damage

Mechanical damage is easy to spot. What are 3 common indicators?

  • Rose buds or carnation buds that fall out of sleeves with about 3 inches of stem attached (impact damage, boxes dropped on pallets or handled roughly)
  • Smashed flower “noses”—Bunches rub against shelves or box ends
  • Sleeves are crunched at top—product shift in box
  • Little or no water in bucket and lots of water inside sleeves –boxes were tipped at some point

Freeze Damage

Frozen flowers are easy to identify. Indicators that flowers have frozen:

  • Black foliage that turns into a drippy mess on Alstroemeria
  • Roses show damage by “off-color” appearance (usually blue-ish)
  • Gyp (Baby’s Breath) flowers turn brown or black
  • Snap flowers turn wet-transparent
  • Foliage looks like frozen spinach

Photo of the Effects of Freezing on Alstroemeria Flowers