Refridgeration and Flowers
Refrigeration cases holds flowers in florist shops and grocery stores but there is a lot more to it to keeping the flowers fresh. It is a lot more complicated than just putting a vase of roses in a converted pastry case or beverage case. The refrigeration needs to be at just the right temperature and more. If done correctly flowers can be shipped from across the continent or even around the world and look like they have just been picked when they arrive.
We all know that plants growand bloom by taking the sunlight they receive and convert it into carbohydrates in their leaves and then carrying nutrients up from their soil to the growing flowers to create tissue. This process is the plants version of respiration. The life goal of any plant that has flowers is to flower and this requires extra respiration. When temperatures begin to warm, plants will process the sunlight, nutrients and water much faster and this gives them the increased energy their flowers need. It also helps to generate heat which then speeds up the flowering process. When you cool the plants this will slow down the plants respiration.
The water for the plant will travel between the layers of tissue on the leaves and stems and is part of the respiration process. What commercial flower growers do is what they call “harden off” flowers right after harvest by plunging the cut stems in water and a carbohydrate like sucrose, this is to replace the water supplied by the plant itself. They are then put in boxes and refrigerated at the lowest temperature that is possible for each different type of flower. The refrigeration cases used by florists will often maintain relative humidity that is between 85 to 95 percent to help keep the flower petals and the tissues hydrated. Then when the water touches the stems of the flowers in a bucket or a vase, the resuscitation process starts.
The best storage temperature for most flowers is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but those flowers kept refrigerated for two or three days will stay fresh if stored in temperatures of 34 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the refrigeration temperature drops below 32 degrees then ice crystals are going to form in the plant tissue and this dehydrates the tissue and will pierce the surface. Flowers like camellias, amaryllis, orchids, protea and bird of paradise will react to the colder temperatures much like roses and lilies respond to freezing, they need to be kept in a warmer case that is between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even though the process of refrigeration and hydration will slow down respiration, under counter freezer things do not stop it all together. Flowers that are refrigerated still need light to maintain their color and for the plants to release water, carbon dioxide and ethylene. The ethylene will spur the ripening in fruits and vegetables and helps plants to mature. Flowers in a florist's case has ventilation that will remove the ethylene.
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