How much do you know about the care of flowers you sell every day? Mishandling your number one inventory investment can be costly to not only your bottom line but to your reputation and sales growth. Take a few minutes to test your Flower Lifeline IQ.

1. Upon receiving flowers in your business, what is the first step in care and handling?
A. Prepare buckets with flower food solution
B. Clean the stems
C. Open the boxes
D. Put the shipment in the cooler until you can process them

2. Should flowers be cut at an angle for maximum hydration performance?
Yes No

3. What is the proper relative humidity for a floral cooler?
A. 45-60%
B. 90-100%
C. 75-85%
D. 60-95%

4. All foliage should be removed from flower stems prior to processing so the flower does not compete with the leaves for solution.
True False

5. The majority of 5-gram packets of flower food treats what volume of water?
A. Two pints
B. One quart
C. One pint
D. Two and one half pints

6. Which is the best method for soaking floral foam?
A. Soak in tap water until the bubbles stop floating to the top
B. Soak for 20-25 minutes in a double solution of flower food to counteract the nitrogen levels
C. Soak in warm tap water until the foam “free floats” (about one minute)
D. Soak in a fresh flower food solution according to directions until the foam is fully saturated

7. How often should you clean your flower food buckets?
A. Every week
B. After every use
C. Every month
D. Every two weeks as long as they are kept refrigerated

8. What is the very first step in care and handling?
A. Sourcing quality, fresh product
B. Preparing containers with flower food solution
C. Taking inventory of your shipment
D. Re-cutting the stems with a sharp, clean knife or shears

9. What is transpiration?
A. The production of carbohydrates from water, chlorophyll and sunlight to support the life and flowering of plants
B. The use of sucrose by the protoplasm to promote bloom production
C. The natural water loss by flowers and plants, generally through stomata
D. The use of carbohydrates as energy for cell production

10. Select one of the following that represents the three ingredients generally found in most commercial cut flower foods.
A. Nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium
B. Potassium, sucrose, chlorophyll
C. Sugar, acid, stem unpluggers
D. Sodium hypochlorite, dextrose, stem unpluggers


1. D. The first step in care and handling after you have received a shipment is to keep them refrigerated to reduce transpiration and respiration until you can process them.

2. No. It makes no difference to a flower stem’s hydration performance if you cut it at an angle or straight across. The important thing to remember is to use a sharp, clean knife or bypass shears.

3. C. 75-85%. The other levels are either too low and will dry out the flowers, or they are too high and will create free-standing moisture which can promote botrytis.

4. False. Remove only the foliage that will be below the solution level in the storage container. Leaving foliage on the stem is beneficial for the hydration process. The foliage is also a natural filler for floral designs.

5. C. One pint.

6. D. Soak in a fresh flower food solution according to directions until the foam is fully saturated.

7. B. Clean your buckets after every use to prevent bacteria from plugging flower stems. Treat these containers as you would your dishes at home. Would you think about reusing a glass or plate without washing it?

8. A. The first step in care and handling is sourcing the freshest flowers you can.

9. C. The natural water loss by flowers and plants, generally through stomata.

10. C. Sugar (to provide energy), acid (to lower the pH) and stem unpluggers (to keep the flower’s “plumbing” free flowing).

Grading Scale

10 correct answers: You are a flower care genius!
8 to 9 correct answers: Excellent—you’re pretty bloomin’ smart
6 to 7 correct answers: Your flower is fading, do some reading
5 or fewer correct answers: You’re going to seed, better fertilize your brain with some flower care knowledge.

Reprinted with permission from The Flower Book 2010, Cenflo Publishing

W. Kurt Schroeder, AAF, AIFD, PFCI is president of WKS Associates, Inc., a floriculture consulting firm specializing in goal-oriented solutions. Contact him at [email protected]