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Extending the vase life of cut flowers: Pre-treatments and preservatives studied

Date:
July 1, 2011
Source:
American Society for Horticultural Science
Summary:
A multiyear study identified patterns of postharvest responses to commercial hydrator and holding floral preservatives among 121 cultivars of specialty cut flowers. Cut stems were pretreated with either a commercial hydrating solution or deionized water, then placed in either a holding solution or deionized water. Particular combinations of preservatives and hydrating treatments were found to either increase or decrease vase life of the flowers. The study contains valuable information for flower growers, retailers, and consumers.

Sunflowers (Helianthus) are a major specialty cut flower, shown here with roses, one of the most important cut flowers worldwide.
Credit: Photo by J. Dole

Each year, a wide variety of new cut flower cultivars and species are evaluated in trials administered by North Carolina State University and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. The research, conducted at about 50 locations in the United States and Canada, provides valuable production and marketing information.

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John M. Dole and a research team from North Carolina State University undertook a multiyear study designed to identify patterns of postharvest responses to commercial hydrator and holding floral preservatives among 121 cultivars from 47 genera. The team chose stems of "promising and productive cultivars" from the National Trial Program, pretreated them with either a commercial hydrating solution or deionized (DI) water, then placed them in either a commercial holding solution or DI water. The results of the comprehensive 8-year study premiered in HortTechnology.

According to Dole, although there was cultivar variation within each genus, patterns of postharvest responses emerged during the study. The largest response category was one in which the vase life of 53 cultivars was increased by treating with a holding preservative. Consumer favorites in this category include: basil, bee balm, blackeyed susan, coneflower, coral bells, foxglove, lisianthus, ornamental pepper, shasta daisy, sunflower, snapdragon, and zinnia, among others.

Interestingly, the researchers determined that holding preservatives actually reduced the vase life of 14 cultivars such as ageratum, false queen anne's lace, lisianthus, pineapple lily, yarrow, and zinnia. Hydrating preservatives reduced the vase life of 18 cultivars, including feverfew, lisianthus, ornamental pepper, pineapple lily, shasta daisy, sweet william, sunflower, yarrow, and zinnia. Application of a combination treatment showed that the use of hydrating and holding preservatives reduced vase life in 12 cultivars.

The researchers concluded that, for the majority of cultivars in the study, either all treatments produced a similar vase life or treatment with a holding preservative produced the longest vase life. They cautioned, however, that "a universal recommendation for use of a holding preservative cannot be made as it reduced the vase life of 14 cultivars." The study results also indicated that hydrator preservatives are "not advantageous" in extending the vase life of most of the cut flowers studied.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Clark, Erin M.R., Dole, John M., Carlson, Alicain S., Moody, Erin P., McCall, Ingram F., Fanelli, Frankie L., Fonteno, William C. Vase Life of New Cut Flower Cultivars. HortTechnology, 2010; 20: 1016-1025 [link]

Cite This Page:

American Society for Horticultural Science. "Extending the vase life of cut flowers: Pre-treatments and preservatives studied." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110701150447.htm>.
American Society for Horticultural Science. (2011, July 1). Extending the vase life of cut flowers: Pre-treatments and preservatives studied. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110701150447.htm
American Society for Horticultural Science. "Extending the vase life of cut flowers: Pre-treatments and preservatives studied." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110701150447.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

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