Care and Handling - Tips from the Pros
By: Ben Gill, California Protea Management
was asked by a manager of a major floral distribution firm if I
could tell him why his flowers were turning black. I asked him under
what conditions did he hold his flowers? His response surprised
me, "I keep them in the refer box on the floor in the tropical
next question to him was the clincher, and the reason why I am writing
this article. I asked him, "Didn't your supplier tell you how to
properly care for protea?" After a few well-placed telephone calls
and a question-and-answer time with some friends, I realized that
most wholesale houses, brokers and shippers have a very vague notion
of how to take care of protea. Even some grower/shippers are not
treating the flowers of this majestic family correctly. As with
all flowers, the "chain of life" handling starts the moment the
flower stem is removed from the mother plant. Here are a few simple
rules for successfully handling protea:
some uninformed flower professionals think that protea is a tropical
flower, please allow me to inform you that they are not. They are
Mediterranean-grown flowers. For this reason, you can keep them
at a temperature of 40 - 42°f, with a humidity of 90 - 95 percent.
Protea also have the need, as some children do, to leave the light
on while resting.
are very good travelers once packed into boxes and cleated down.
As with most flowers, it is a very good idea to put your flowers
back into the cooler after packing and pre-cool them before
sending them on their way.
is my opinion that the majority of problems that occur with protea
happen after they leave the original shipper. It is here that they
are under the stress of dehydration, exposure to hot and cold temperatures
(depending on the season of the year), stored in the shipping boxes
in dark coolers, neither re-cut nor placed in water to re-hydrate
and generally abused because someone told someone else that they
were hardy flowers and didn't need any special care. WRONG!
lack of light is a major cause of leaf blackening in protea.
So is the absence of water from the leaves. Almost all of
the Proteaceae family will react to the absence of sugar,
thus drawing from the reserves in the leaves.
of the complexity of the flower head, protea have a very high
respiratory requirement to complete the development of the
flower. Rough handling of the foliage by crushing, breaking
or damaging the stem will release tannins into the water to
be absorbed by the stems, turning the leaves black.
post-harvesting care will minimize your problems.
them out of the box and re-cut the stem one inch.
them loosely in a commercial preservative with four inches of
water in a clean bucket. Make sure no leaves are under water.
them in a well-lit area for one to one and a half hours, before
placing in cooler.
these tips on to your customers or clients with our hopes that you
will keep unique, unusual, exotic and beautiful protea in your floral
pallet offerings for years to come.
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