preserving cut flowers

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Wed Oct 16 01:37:16 EST 1996

Some discussion about commercial use of cut flower preservatives is found in 
Roy Larson (ed.) 1992. Introduction to Floriculture. Academic Press. 

Sucrose should not exceed 1.5% (mass basis) for cut chrysanthemums otherwise 
leaves may be injured. Pulsing of carnation flowers with silver 
thiosulfate can use from 10 to 12% sucrose.

Silver thiosulfate has been commercially used for cut carnations. The cost
is small because of the tiny amount per flower (0.5 to 5 micromoles per
stem). It may increase the vase life from 5 to 15 days. The major concern
is actually the toxicity of silver. 

David R. Hershey
Snail mail: 6700 Belcrest Road #112, Hyattsville, MD 20782-1340

Adjunct Professor, Biology/Horticulture Department
Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD 20772-2199

Email: dh321 at

On 9 Oct 1996, Ross Koning wrote:

> At 12:31 AM 10/9/96 -0400, Janice M. Glime wrote:
> >Ross,
> >  I enjoyed your answer to this, and so many other of your responses.  I
> >am curious about item 4 - providing sucrose.  I read this somewhere and
> >put it in the botany book I wrote for the course I teach here.  When I
> >sent the book out for review, the reviewer jumped all over me, saying that
> >the sucrose would encourage the growth of bacteria.
> Yes any sugar is going to accelerate microorganism growth,
> so you have to add hydroquinone or other bacteriostatic
> agents to check this.
> >We have ignored the
> >advice in our lab experiments, but we really haven't seen any differences
> >in those with sucrose and those with none.
> Some species have plenty of native carbohydrate to supply
> the respiration needs of the flowers.  Others lack this
> endogenous supply, so external sources are needed to
> extend vase life.  Almost all the packets given to people
> who buy flowers at a florist contain a carbohydrate and
> a bacteriostatic agent.
> >Can you give any specific
> >advice on concentration?
> Each flower species should be tested to determine the
> optimal dose through a dose response.  That in itself
> makes an instructive experiment.  It ties in with the
> respiration process, and ultimately to osmosis and
> water relations, and also to the concepts of optimum,
> luxury, reserves etc.  Maybe for one species the distilled
> water control lasts just as long!  In my own research
> on Gaillardia, I used 0.05 M sucrose.  This was the
> lowest concentration that permitted full growth of
> filaments in vitro in a natural time-frame.
> >Some have suggested putting aspirin with it to
> >prevent bacteria.
> Some people have said that, and others say it also
> impacts ethylene biosynthesis...though I'm not clear
> about which way.  Literature on "voodoo" lily shows
> salicylic acid stimulating ethylene biosynthesis.
> This could be a direct or indirect effect...?
> Aspirin is a derivative of salicylic acid, so it
> could block that process as a competitive inhibitor?
> It would be good to ask Jack Sacalis or George Wulster
> at Rutgers about their findings with carnations and
> any effect of aspirin on ethylene biosynthesis.
> Hydroquinone I know is bacteriostatic and salicylic
> acid is not too far structurally from that.
> >Sorry I'm not looking for this myself in the
> >horticulture journals, but the nearest library with horticulture journals
> >is at least 100 miles away (more likely 400) - or in some unknown person's
> >basement.
> I'm in the same boat!  Our library is PITIFUL in terms
> of plant science.  It is the one drawback to ECSU.
> I'm sure the aspirin question is answered in the literature,
> but I just don't have resources here to check it out.
> I have also heard that putting a copper penny in the
> solution works...presumably by adding Cu is
> known that the Ag (silver) ion blocks ethylene action,
> so a complex of silver nitrate with sodium thiosulfate
> can prolong vase life [but very impractical!].  It is
> also known that Co (cobalt) ions block ethylene bio-
> synthesis.  I'm not sure about this copper connection,
> but copper is an essential cofactor for some enzymes.
> I wish I knew more...
> ross
> ______________________________________________________________
>                             |
> Ross Koning                 | Koning at
> Biology Department          |
> Eastern CT State University | Phone: 860-465-5327
> Willimantic, CT  06226  USA | Fax: 860-465-5213
> ____________________________|_________________________________
>                 Plant Physiology is Phun!
>  /\|___/\     //\______COOH   NH-CH2-CH=C-CH2OH  \/OH
> |  |  |  |    |  |  ||       //\___     \CH3     /\|/\\/\\COOH
>  \/ \/|\/|    \\/ \ /       N  ||  N            |  |
>  /\ | |__|=        NH       |  || ||           //\//\
>   | COOH                    \\ /\ /            O
>   COOH        H2C=CH2         N  NH
> ______________________________________________________________

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