Funding for this column is provided by the ASCFG Research Committee

Flower Color Preferences

Understanding color preferences for cut flower purchases – specifically, the color association with holidays and special occasions – can help floral retailers market certain flower colors for certain events. This strategy may lead to increased sales, if such color preferences can be assessed. This study looked at data gathered over a 13-year period (1992-2005) to identify consumer preferences for flower color as associated with calendar occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, Easter/Passover, Mother’s Day or Christmas/Hanukkah, and personal occasions including birthdays, anniversaries, get well, sympathy and expressions of love.

This research analyzed data, collected nationwide, including demographics information, floral products, floral gift recipients and holidays and noncalendar holidays. Only data for single stem purchases were used in this research so that purchasing decisions could be associated with a single color, which would not likely be the case for a bouquet or arrangement. The 12 flower colors were grouped into six categories: BluePurple, RedBronze, PeachPink, White, Yellow, and Other. The data included 24,640 transactions of single stem purchases accounting for 22.09% of all cut flower purchases.

Overall, RedBronze accounted for the most purchased color with 39.34%, followed by PeachPink (23.77%), then White (11.31%). BluePurple (10.74%) and Yellow flowers (10.01%) were purchased the least. Seventy percent of the single-stem buyers were female, of which 44 percent made purchases for themselves. Ninety-four percent of single-stem purchases made by men were given as gifts. Males were more likely to choose flowers in the RedBronze category, compared to women whose color preference was quite diverse.

The following chart identifies the single-stem cut flower color most often chosen by males and females on various occasions.

The research also found that consumer age and income affected flower color preference. Females 40 to 54 years old liked BluePurple flowers while those over age 55 favored PeachPink flowers. Females in a higher income category preferred White, BluePurple and PeachPink compared to the other color categories.

These results may be useful in targeting advertising and marketing based on the occasion and the sociodemographic status of the consumer.

Yue, C. and B.K. Behe, 2010. “Consumer Color Preferences for Single-stem Cut Flowers on Calendar Holidays and Noncalendar Occasions” 
HortScience, 45(1), pp. 78-82.

Evaluation of Postharvest Treatments for Viburnum

Viburnum tinus is an evergreen perennial shrub with lightly scented white cymes used in the United States as a woody cut flower. This research performed in Greece aimed to determine the optimal harvest stage of viburnum inflorescences and evaluate the effect of anti-microbial and anti-ethylene compounds on the postharvest performance of cut stems.

Inflorescences were harvested in February and March from 5- or 6-year-old plants. The three developmental stages identified were: 10 to 30% open flowers (Stage 1), 30 to 50% open flowers (Stage 2), and more than 50% open flowers (Stage 3). Two sucrose vase solutions (1% and 2%) were tested. Three anti-microbial treatments were trialed: a vase solution containing 100 mg/l DICA, and a twenty-four hour pulse treatment of 20 or 40 mg/l silver nitrate, or 100 or 200 ml/l methanol. A treatment of 10 µl/l 1-MCP for 24 hours at 20°C was tested as an anti-ethylene approach. Vase life was terminated when more than 50% of the flowers were dropped down or abscised.

While the results indicated that harvest stage significantly affected flower opening (greatest percentage: stage 3) and flower abscission (lowest percentage: stage 1), no differences in vase life were recorded. Stage 1 was suggested as the optimal harvest period to achieve least flower abscission and gradual opening for a better flower display.

The sucrose solutions did not extend vase life nor promote flower opening. None of the anti-microbial treatments increased flower opening; however the methanol treatment displayed reduced flower abscission, while the silver nitrate reduced flower abscission and extended vase life (2 days longer than the control). The treatment with 1-MCP significantly improved vase live (4.2 days longer than the control) and reduced flower abscission.

Darras, A.I., A. Akoumianaki-Ioannidou, N.E. Pompodakis, 2010. “Evaluation and improvement of post-harvest performance of cut 
Viburnum tinus inflorescence.” Scientiea Horticulturae 124, pp. 376-380.

Ranunculus Sensitivity to Irrigation Water with High Salinity, High PH

Ranunculus asiaticus is a spring-blooming, field-grown cut flower. This study evaluated the effect of saline irrigation water, at two pH levels, on the plant growth, and quality and resprouting ability of the tuberous roots of ranunculus. Many cut flower species, including Antirrhinum, Celosia, Chrysanthemum, Gypsophila, Helianthus, Limonium and Matthiola have been grown successfully with irrigation water with moderate to high salinity. However, the quality of ranunculus tuberous roots has decreased in California where recycled municipal wastewater, which may contain salts and have a high alkalinity, is used for irrigation. The reduced quality is threatening the sustainability of the crop.

Ranunculus ‘Yellow ASD’ and ‘Pink CTD’ were grown in greenhouse sand tanks at the U.S. Salinity Laboratory in Riverside, CA, transplanted in November. Treatments applied one week after transplant consisted of solutions with added calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfate and chlorine to provide electrical conductivity (EC) readings of 2, 3, 4 and 6 dS/m. These solutions were maintained at a pH of 6.4. A second trial using EC readings of 3, 4 and 6 dS/m were not regulated for pH, which averaged 7.8.

Stems were harvested in February when the petals of the terminal flower were completely extended. Data collected included number of stems per plant, length of stem, number of flower buds, leaves per stem, diameter of stem, diameter of terminal flower and dry weight. Following harvest, seven bulbs of each cultivar were selected, planted and irrigated with a complete nutrient solution. Spouting percentage for the tuberous roots was calculated.

Plant growth, the number of flowering stems and the number of flower buds was significantly reduced by increasing salinity. However, both cultivars met the commercial standard stem length requirement for cut flowers (41 cm, or 16 in.) when pH was maintained at 6.4, despite a high EC of 6 dS/m.

Based on the decrease in plant growth with only a slight increase in EC, this study concluded that ranunculus is hypersensitive to salinity. While overall plant quality declined, flower quality was acceptable. An EC higher than 4 dS/m affected the viability of ranunculus tuberous roots resulting in decreased shoot emergence. Continued cultivation using degraded water for irrigation would be improved if the recycled water were blended with high quality water and the alkalinity of the water controlled by acid injection, addition of organic soil amendments or use of acid reaction fertilizers.

Valdez-Aguilar, L.A., C.M. Grieve, J. Poss, M.A. Mellano, 2009. “Hypersensitivity of Ranunculus asiaticus to Salinity and Alkaline pH in Irrigation Water in Sand Cultures.” HortScience, 44(1) pp. 138-144.

Megan Bame

Megan Bame is a freelance writer in Salisbury, North Carolina. Contact her at [email protected]