Written by Gay Smith
Handling Blooming Branches
Nothing banishes the banality of winter as subtly as flowering branches. The enticing beauty of lilac, forsythia or quince branches whisper the promise of spring’s verdant beauty pushing winter aside.
After branches receive adequate chill hours they burst into bloom. Consequently, growers cut these crops in tight bud stage and hold dry in cold storage to prolong the sales window. Wholesalers, too, hold blooming branches, e.g. quince, almond, cherry, and forsythia dry in coolers at 33-34F to keep them dormant. Lilac requires water to keep foliage turgid, but still needs to be kept cold (33-34F) to keep buds from opening.
All this dry storage means branches arrive to your shop thirsty! To get flow turned-on, but not have buds popping wide open, prepare buckets with a hydration solution like Chrysal Professional #1–use cold water. Give stems a cut (not smash) with sharp shears. Hydration solutions contain no sugar, so buds will swell, but won’t burst open.
If branches go on sales display or into arrangements
Skip this step if you are displaying stems immediate sales. Instead, give a fresh cut and place in a low-sugar flower food like Chrysal Professional #2. Stick with cold water to prep solution. No ice–ice dilutes the ratio of acidifier, sugar and clarifier in the flower food leaving you with a bacterial soup. Stems drink from the bottom so fill buckets only 1/3 full.
OK to top-up with fresh solution, not tap-water if needed.
Low sugar flower food and hydration solutions are active for up to 6 days. Regardless of which solution you choose, allow stems to drink for 4 hours before using in design or selling off the floor. Florets are sensitive to ethylene so avoid exposure. Keep clear of sources of cigarette and fireplace smoke. All combustion engines produce ethylene in the exhaust so don’t back delivery vans into dock areas and let them idle.