They may not be able to make love last, but a team of University of Florida (UF) researchers has figured out how to at least make the flowers go the distance.
A UF environmental horticulturist has developed ways to extend flower quality and vase life by three or more days through post-harvest techniques so consumers see a difference in the flowers they purchase — not only on Valentine’s Day but throughout the year.
“Our research has shown that keeping flowers cold as they move from the field to the florist is critical,” said Terril Nell, who has been involved with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences post harvest floral program for more than two decades.
Growers and retailers also need to understand the importance of proper treatment and sanitary conditions. Consumers can extend vase life by two to three days by using properly mixed commercial flower foods. Using clean, sanitized containers will help to keep all cut flowers fresh longer.
Additionally, Nell and his research team are working with growers and retailers nationally and internationally to spread the word about how to make flowers last longer.
“Sometimes the differences we achieve relate to the flower quality as well as vase life,” said Nell, who began working with roses because of their popularity and economic value. He also works with carnations, lilies, gerbera, chrysanthemums and alstromeria.
“As seen with the reduction of bent neck over the last five to eight years,” Nell said, “the results of this research program is making a difference with consumers already. We hope to make even greater strides in the next two to three years.”
“It is already proven that flowers are the most popular gift to receive, that they consistently increase a sense of individual well-being, and are even capable of increasing creative thought and output in workplace settings,” Nell said. “If we can help make floral products last longer, their value to consumers will be greater.” He expects that with improvements to rose quality and longevity, people will buy flowers more often, which will benefit all elements of the floral industry.