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  • TLC and Handling - More About Gerbera
    By Carmen Cosentino, AAF, PFCI


    Handling Gerbera 

    Gerberas are harvested by pulling the stem from the plant, often leaving a heel at the stem's base. This knob impedes water uptake and must be removed at once. Immediately after harvest, gerberas benefit greatly from refrigeration at 35çF for several hours.

    At the retail level, be certain to re-cut the stems and hydrate in fresh, good quality water with a flower food. The use of flower food is critical for this crop and should be applied, at proper strength, immediately upon unpacking. Refrigerate at 35çF after hydration. Gerberas not sold within three to four days will benefit from a fresh cut and placement in clean flower food solution. Advise consumers to re-cut every three days, use flower food, and keep gerbera arrangements out of drafts and very warm areas.

    Successful handling of gerberas also involves developing systems to ensure that the stems will not bend or break. Many florist hang the cardboard tray that gerberas arrive in above their buckets so all stems are in the water and the weight is carried by the flower head, rather than the stem. Some use a chicken wire grid placed over the bucket opening so that the flower is supported and the stem dangles with no pressure on it.

    Using Refrigeration 

    Proper refrigeration is critical to success. But many retail shops have only one cooler. In that case, set it to operate in the 34çF - 38çF range. The majority of product we carry - fresh flowers and foliages - will do well in this temperature range. When the cooler is very large, set thermometers in different areas to check variations in temperatures. Often you will find enough variation so there is a 45çF spot for gladioli and snapdragons, a colder spot for roses, and even, possibly, a warm spot for things you want to open faster.

    The savvy retailer also owns the new SAF Care and Handling Manual, which lists optimum storage temperatures for most products we handle. Just as important as temperature, is humidity. It should be between 80 and 90 percent when the temperature is below 40çF. Remember, too, that the refrigerator's coils remove heat. All the air in the cooler passes through the fins every few minutes, and as it moves through, it deposits lint, mold and bacteria. In time, such material can clog the fins. Be certain to brush down the fins at least three or four times each year. Keep them clean. Proper care of the refrigerator will add days to the storage life of your flowers.



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