Flower Refrigeration: The Essential Guide for Beginners

Flower refrigeration is an essential technique in the floral industry that helps extend the lifespan of cut flowers and maintain their freshness and beauty. For those planning to enter the floral industry or beginners who are just getting acquainted with floristry, understanding the basics of flower refrigeration is crucial. In this guide, I will provide you with detailed information on the key points of flower refrigeration, helping you step into the world of floristry.

Flower Refrigeration

Why is it Necessary to Refrigerate Flowers?

Why is it necessary to refrigerate flowers

Once cut from the living plant, cut flowers lose their supply of water and nutrients and typically can maintain their freshness and appearance for only about three days using their stored reserves, after which they quickly wilt and decline. However, a beautiful appearance is a prerequisite for selling cut flowers; no one wants to pay for a flower that is about to wilt. Refrigeration slows down the respiration of plant cells and reduces metabolic rates, effectively prolonging the life of cut flowers and keeping them fresh and beautiful. This is especially crucial for florists. Without refrigeration measures, the rapid wilting of flowers when they cannot be sold quickly could completely eliminate the ability to sell them. Good refrigeration practices allow you the time to plan your inventory and supply of cut flowers based on market demand, reduce waste, and minimize the loss of investment.

 

Ideal Conditions for Flower Refrigeration

Ideal Conditions for Flower Refrigeration

Temperature

The ideal refrigeration temperature for most cut flowers should be maintained between 1°C – 5°C (34°F – 42°F). However, this is not a one-size-fits-all guideline as different varieties of flowers have optimal storage temperatures that vary. Flowers sensitive to cold, such as certain tropical species, may require a slightly warmer environment, above 10°C (50°F). For cold-tolerant flowers from colder climates, the refrigeration temperature can even be as low as -5°C (23°F). When choosing the best refrigeration temperature for your flowers, refer to the care manual for that specific variety or seek advice from your flower supplier.

Humidity

While most products require a dry environment during storage to prevent the growth of microbes and bacteria, which can cause mold or spoilage affecting the product’s quality and safety, cut flowers require a high-humidity environment. Higher humidity helps prevent flowers from drying out and wilting prematurely. Like temperature, the optimal storage humidity for cut flowers varies by variety but is generally between 85% – 95%. Sometimes, refrigeration equipment may not directly control the humidity level in a floral cooler or achieve the needed humidity level. To better control humidity, humidifiers or dehumidifiers can be placed in the floral cooler to adjust the moisture level.

Air Circulation

Air Circulation

The composition and content of gases in the floral cooler also affect the lifespan of cut flowers, with ethylene having a particularly significant impact.

Ethylene is a gaseous hormone produced by plants that not only promotes the ripening of fruits but also the shedding of leaves, flowers, and fruits. For cut flowers, ethylene can accelerate the aging and wilting process. Different types of cut flowers have varying sensitivities to ethylene. Some are extremely sensitive, even low concentrations can cause rapid wilting. Therefore, managing ethylene levels in the floral cooler is especially crucial.

To reduce the ethylene content in floral coolers, proper ventilation is necessary. Opening and closing the doors of the floral cooler to exchange air can also help reduce ethylene levels to some extent. If you want to further reduce and delay the aging of cut flowers, ethylene inhibitors such as 1-MCP can be used effectively to inhibit the ethylene’s aging effect on the flowers.

Refrigeration Equipment

Unlike conventional cold rooms, floral coolers need to have air coolers that can gently blow cold air onto the flowers due to the delicate nature of flower petals, which can easily detach from the stems. It’s crucial to avoid damage to the blossoms.

Cleanliness

A clean floral cooler can prevent the growth of mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms, thereby protecting the stored cut flowers.

Location

The placement of the floral cooler is an important consideration. Whether positioned outdoors or indoors, ensure that the cooler is shielded from direct sunlight and kept away from heat sources. In sunnier, warmer environments, maintaining a cool temperature inside the floral cooler will require more energy consumption. This not only means higher electricity bills but also additional maintenance costs. Such conditions can shorten the lifespan of the refrigeration equipment, potentially leading to earlier repairs or replacements of damaged parts or even the complete cooling unit.

 

Types of Floral Coolers

Types of Floral Coolers

When selecting a floral cooler, it is important to consider the type of flowers, storage space, specific usage needs, and budget. The suitable floral cooler is one of the key factors in extending the sales period of flowers, enhancing their commercial value, and increasing revenue. Common types of floral coolers used in the floristry industry include:

Walk-in Coolers

Walk-in coolers offer a solution for large-scale flower storage and are commonly used by large commercial florists, wholesale flower vendors, and flower farms. These coolers have a large capacity space that can effectively store vast quantities of flowers. Walk-in coolers are designed to ensure proper temperature control, humidity control, and ventilation systems to better extend the life of the flowers and maintain their beauty.

Floral Display Refrigerators

Floral display refrigerators are typically used in small flower shops, shopping centers, and at certain event planning venues. While these refrigerators serve to preserve cut flowers, their more important function is to display the stored cut flowers to consumers. Beautifully displayed flowers can greatly enhance the mood, attract consumer attention, and encourage purchases. The main design features of floral display refrigerators include transparent glass doors and movable display shelves, which make it easy for customers to view and choose flowers, as well as for staff to access them. Of course, don’t forget to install an appropriate LED lighting system, good internal lighting can make the colors of the flowers more vibrant, increasing their visual appeal.

Reach-in or Counter-Style Refrigerators

Reach-in or Counter-Style Refrigerators

Reach-in or counter-style refrigerators are also suitable for displaying flowers in small flower shops and shopping centers. These units are designed for retail environments and take up minimal floor space. Their major feature is that customers can not only view the flowers but can also directly take them out of the refrigerator, while ensuring the flowers are kept at the proper temperature and humidity to delay aging. Counter-style refrigerators typically have transparent glass doors, but some models are designed without doors to facilitate quick access and dynamic display.

 

Conclusion

In summary, floral refrigeration is a critically important technology in the floristry industry. By maintaining appropriate levels of temperature, humidity, and ethylene management, refrigeration can extend the life of cut flowers and ensure their beautiful appearance, thereby enhancing their market value and competitiveness. For beginners looking to enter the floristry industry, this article has provided a comprehensive and detailed introductory guide.

 

FAQ

 

Can a regular refrigerator be used for storing flowers?

No. Floral coolers require more precise temperature and humidity control than what a regular refrigerator can provide. Additionally, regular refrigerators are primarily designed for storing food and do not take into account the speed and volume of airflow, which could cause flowers to shed their petals.

What types of flowers can be stored in a floral cooler?

What types of flowers can be stored in a floral cooler

A floral cooler can store most types of flowers. However, since different varieties of flowers require slightly different optimal temperatures and humidity levels for storage, it’s important to understand the specific needs of each type of flower when selecting a floral cooler.

What are the investment costs for a floral cooler?

The initial cost of a floral cooler mainly depends on its size, design, and frequency of use. Although the upfront investment is relatively high, it is worthwhile considering the long-term benefits.

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