Is your water negatively affecting your cut flowers?
Water is essential to life. In the flower industry, a constant water source is exceedingly important for the freshness & longevity of cut flowers. Some flower varieties, like hydrangea, are extremely susceptible to wilt and premature death if kept out of water for too long. Florists have become more and more aware of the great benefits of proper cut flower care & handling procedures…and the importance of adding proper amounts of flower nutrients and anti-bacterial agents to flower water sources.
BUT…what if the water itself is contaminated? Will it affect the health & longevity of cut flowers? Believe it or not…certain water additives, chemicals and minerals…just like Ethylene Gas…CAN negatively affect cut flowers…with some varieties being more sensitive to water contamination than others.
With this in mind, I went to uBloom’s Flower Care & Handling Expert, Gayle Smith of Chrysal Industries, to ask a few questions about the links between water issues and flower health issues….and what florists can do to remedy any problems regarding water contamination. This is what Gayle had to say…
1. What PH level is best for flowers? And, WHY is PH level important?
3.5—5.0 range is best. Lowering the pH dissolves air bubbles in stems and boosts flow. Also, the clarifiers are pH dependent
2. Florists have complained that their water “burns” their flowers. What chemicals or minerals in water are most likely to damage flowers?
Boron, Fluoride, high chlorine and high Iron is damaging to flowers
3. Does the flouride added to our water negatively affect flowers?
Yes—high Fl damages tuberoses, glads, gerberas. I think the level applied for teeth care is not much of an issue, but if the customer is seeing problems on sensitive type flowers, I suggest they use bottled water for those blooms
4. What areas of the U.S. are known for problem water?
Arid areas have hard water (high limestone, high calcium and magnesium (AZ, TX, NV…) Colorado has high mineral content and well water anywhere in US can be problematic. Also NEVER use artificially softened water for cut flowers or plants.
5. What about Well Water?
Always have it analyzed—when you acidify water that is not “neutral” city water, you boost flow. If there are negative elements in the water, boosting flow can cause over-load.
6. What are some of the ways florists can reduce the chances of their water negatively affecting their cut flowers?
Add in-line filters to spigots to reduce some minerals. You have to do you homework on which filters will reduce the chemicals that are causing problems.
Measure when mixing solutions. Make sure the injector is set correctly
avoid “soft” water for anything in flower treatment (too salty)
City water is generally no problem—the analysis is provided by city water company , but well water can cause issues—have it tested (extension agents) Chrysal doesn’t provide water testing
Install a RO system(Expensive)
Use filtered water (Expensive)
Here are a few more tibits from Gayle:
NEVER use uncoated wire in acidified water…such as wires in bows or (God forbid) wires in roses. The metal reacts with the acidified water and releases molecules that turn the water grayish and rusts the metal. FYI: If you are STILL wiring roses for vase designs, there is no need to do that any longer. The practice started long ago when roses had weaker “necks” and needed a little help staying stright. Now, we have bred roses for strong necks, so wiring isn’t necessary. Wiring the heads of roses can introduce air & bacteria into the rose which will shorten it’s vase life. If you are having problems with “bent neck” in your roses, then you will want to double check your care & handling procedures as well as checking with your wholesaler to make sure that they are following the “cold chain” and hydrating their product properly.
Gayle also revealed that flower foods and “holding” solutions can react with certain elements in water and turn vase water gray or even blackish in color.