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Basic 101- Flower Prepping & Processing

Posted on July 14th, 2016


Prepping/processing of flowers is the key to a successful floral business.

Floral Cooler

The temperature of floral cooler should be around 34-36 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your floral cooler does not reach higher than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to clean your floral cooler on a regular basis, remove that pesky bacteria

Tip – flowers do not freeze at 32 degrees they freeze at about 29 degrees so you run no risk of freezing them if you keep your cooler lower.  



(Image via sunset.com)

Floral prepping/processing tools

To prep your flowers, make sure you have good floral tools. Buy quality! Invest in your floral tools, this is very important as you want clean cuts on your flower stems. Some very important floral tools to open a flower shop are :

  • Floral knife or floral clippers
  • Rose Stripper
  • Buckets
  • Floral Food

Some other valuable floral tools are a Stemming Machine and Flower Stem Cutter. A Stemming machine will allow you to eliminate the need for wire and tape by automatically placing a steel pick  on the flower by pulling the lever.  A Counter Top Flower Stem Cutter will cut your flower stems fast and easy.

Must Have – Crowning Glory this will seal your flowers and keep them hydrated


(Image via pixabay.com)

Processing Roses

Wholesale roses come tightly wrapped which needs to me removed. Do not try to pull the roses out, best tip is to unroll the wrapping.  Typically 25 rose stems come in a bundle and come in these lengths of 40cm, 50cm, 60cm and 70cm. The longer the length of the rose, the bloom size is typically larger.

To process roses, please follow these simple steps:

  • Use a rose stripper and gently pull, this will remove thorns and foliage. Make sure to remove foliage that will be submerged in water.
  • Rose thorns can be removed by pushing on the thorn or with floral clipper or floral knife,  just make sure that you do not remove the whole thorn as this will let air in the stem
  • Make sure to go over any little thorns and just remove with floral knife
  • Remove the guard/packing petals (the outer petals that have a tear or damage with tiny blemishes) These petals keep the inside of the rose petals presestine
  • Each stem needs a fresh cut, hold stem and cut off at least a 1/2 inch at a 45-degree angle, dip in hydrating solution, and add to a floral bucket filled with water and preservative.

Tip – If doing a bridal bouquet remove all the foliage and guard/packing petals. 


(Image via pixabay.com)

Process Flowers

To process other flowers, cut the stems on a 45-degree angle and do not move any part of your hand, just the knife, this will increase the surface area so that they can drink more water. Remember to remove all greens below the water line.

When processing hydrangeas, remember there is a tough stem, all the greens below the water line must be removed. Cut the hydrangea stem with your knife by placing the knife on the flower stem and pull at a 45-degree angle.

tip – cut into the hydrangea stem by cutting snips into the hydrangea (where you cut the angle) and use warm water. Once ready to be arranged,  re-cut stems and dip 1/2 inch into alum power.  



(image via pixabay.com)

Processing Tulips

The great thing is, tulips are now available all year round.  There are some differences between the dutch tulip which set the standards. Tulips come in 10 stems to a bunch.

To process tulips:

  • Look for nice firm stems and great color.
  • Cut a 1/2 of the stem at a 45-degree angle
  • Remove extra leaves from the base of the stem.
  • Dip them in quick-dip and add to a floral bucket filler with water.

tip – tulips continue to grow after being cut,  up to a inch or more. They are also phototropic which means they bend towards the light so keep rotating  your containers to keep them upright.


Florists, do you have any tool recommendations or tips of flower prepping/processing? Please help educate other florists and share below.


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16 thoughts on “Basic 101- Flower Prepping & Processing”

  1. To straighten those tulips that are light sensitive,try a little alcohol in the bucket, can be vodka or rubbing . Seems to work.

    1. Idalina Floranext says:

      Great Tip – didn’t
      know that one thanks 🙂

  2. We have more problems out of lillies than anything. Do you have any processing tips? BTW, all of that was GREAT information!

    1. Idalina Floranext says:

      Hi Kyle Prichard –
      Thank you for your question- here is my processing tips for lilies and hopefully other florist can share theirs as well. 🙂

      Most important thing with lilies is that you cut the stem on 45 angle and remove pollen ( the pollen can eat away at the delicate flower do not allow pollen to touch petals). Keep them away from any sunlight. Lilies need fresh water so changing the water regularly is very important.

      Calla lilies cut them 1 inch off the bottom. Best if you place them in lukewarm water you do not have to fill the water line high keep around 2 to 4 inches high. Callas love water so add water and food to your callas daily. Lastly make sure your callas are in your cooler with temperature of 33-35F.

      1. Cristo says:

        Hey guys! What temperature do you have for the whole cooler? I keep lilies, tulips, peonies etc in same cooler! What do you suggest?? cheers!! Cristo

        1. Idalina Floranext says:

          Hi Cristo-

          Ideally you will want to set your floral cooler between 34 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit I would not recommend going above 38 degrees Fahrenheit and never below 34 degrees Fahrenheit.

          1. Suzi Smith says:

            Hi, the temp you are giving for the floral cooler, doesn’t make sense to me, and I am wondering why? My flora-cool fridge, in the shop is set at 8-10 c which is way higher than yours. It was set by the company upon installation.

          2. Idalina Floranext says:

            Hi Suzi –

            Keeping your floral cooler between 8-10 celsius is higher then what is generally recommended for floral coolers.
            The ideal floral cooler temperature is between 34-36 degrees Fahrenheit and not above 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature is only one facet of a great floral cooler, humidity and air flow is also very important.

            If your floral cooler is working for you at the current temperature then I would say best to keep it this way. It is very hard to judge as I do not have the make or model of your floral cooler, or the floral stems you generally store in your floral cooler.

            However again as a general rule of thumb we recommend 34- 36 Fahrenheit and never above 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

            If you would like to give me your floral cooler make and model I can further research as to why the company is recommending a higher temperature.

            Hope this helps!

  3. Bernice Klassen says:

    It is my understanding that removing thorns from rose stems is like creating an open wound,making the stem more susceptible to bacteria growth, so the fewer thorns you can get away with removing, the better. To me, the absolute most important parts if flower longevity are cleanliness, and I mean laboratory clean with special disenfectant, never ever bleach, and a product like quick dip or something similar that, when first cut in your shop,allows quick hydration of the product. Also reprocessing all flowers every three days with sterilized buckets and fresh water solution, measured correctly for a proper ph balance is imperative. We need to be reminded that, much as we love our artistic talents, to our consumer ,expectation of longevity of product it still #1 in their books and actual creativity is number four or five in their priority.

  4. Melinda Crisman says:

    To straighten the stems on tulips you can also add a penny to the water it helps them to perk up. We use this at the shop I work at.

  5. Cristo says:

    Hey guys which temperature do you have for the cooler when you keep roses, lilies, tulips etc in same cooler? Cheers! Cristo

  6. Mildred says:

    I’am Event organizer, and I Love Flower, I’m planning to open up Flower Shop in Dubai.
    Its confusing for me the floral cooler, Can anyone advice me how to do.

  7. What do they do to daffodils and sweet williams as they are not in water when I buy them. Regards

  8. Why do daffodils and sweet williams do not have water when I buy them

    1. Christine P. says:

      Hi Marilyn,

      I don’t know about dianthus, but daffodils store wonderfully kept dry and horizontal out of water in a flower cooler. Once cut, they tend to be quite short lived.

  9. Jane Sprague says:

    this is my first Valentines day. I am super excited but scared too, 1 question how to know how many flowers to have on hand

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