When you ordered a lovely hand bouquet for express flower delivery, you may be thinking that the flowers simply came from the flower shop. But, have you ever wondered where your local florist sourced the fresh-cut blooms from?
Local flower farms sell tropical flowers according to their season. Out-of-season flowers may still be found at flower markets or via an online florist. If you would like to incorporate European flowers and even the crowd-favorite roses, your florist will most likely purchase from international suppliers ranging from family businesses to large corporate farms. Some flower companies also have their own flower farms where they grow local flowers.
Flowers journey across miles of land and sea. You can definitely say your loved one has a face that launched a plane that flew a thousand miles. It can take days for the flowers to arrive at a local flower delivery shop in Singapore from Canada, Australia, Colombia, and other parts of the world. The flowers may be planted in farms or cultivated in rich volcanic soil with ideal conditions for growing flowers.
The suppliers of fresh-cut flowers adhere to quality standards for growing, harvesting, grading, and packaging the flowers. It takes half a year to eight months for the flowers to grow in controlled climate and soil conditions. The flowers are carefully monitored by highly-trained experts to ensure constant production.
It can take years of preparation for some flowers to grow. For example, quality roses are sourced from rose bushes that are sterilized, turned, and fertilized for at least 2 years. Many plants will produce flowers every year for around 9 years.
To encourage roses to grow all year round, flower experts often “pinch off” the rose buds at an early stage and control factors like light, temperature, and soil conditions. This ensures the plant will produce more roses to meet the demands of consumers during high season like Valentine’s Day.
It takes experience and knowhow to properly ship flowers. They are notorious for having a short lifespan and are also easily damaged. It is vital for the growers and shipping company to work hand in hand to transport the flowers safely and with as little downtime as possible.
Flowers are harvested upon reaching maturity. Workers hand-cut the flowers one by one, taking into consideration bud opening, and stem length. The pollens are also removed for longevity. It is critical for the flowers to be harvested early in the morning. After being cut, the flowers are immersed in a solution with citric acid to hydrate the flowers and prevent bacteria. This process is crucial for the survivability of the flowers as flowers start to decompose the moment they are cut.
After the flowers are hydrated, they are boxed and transported to the post-harvest care facility. The process for post-harvest care should commence within 15 minutes from cutting the stems. The whole process from cutting to post-harvest are:
- Hand-cut the flowers early in the morning
- Immerse them in citric acid solution
- While dripping wet, box the flowers and take them to the facility
- Facility workers will first remove the guard petals (as minimal as possible)
- Remove thorns and foliage at the bottom third of the stem (where the stem is placed in water)
- Grading and labeling of flowers based on type, length, head size, and color
- Flowers are bundled, trimmed, and secured with elastic
- Bundled flowers are hydrated in special formulation to kill bacteria
- The flowers go through pre-cooling process just above freezing temperature to further preserve them
- Pre-cooled flowers are boxed in the cold rooms to prepare for shipping.
- Boxes are coded for distributors and retailers.
- Boxes are then loaded onto trucks which will take them to cold rooms at the airport and later loaded onto flower air cargo planes. All throughout the process, the temperature should be maintained at 34 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arrival of the flowers
The moment the boxes arrive at the airport, they go through security check through highly advanced x-ray machines. It is vital that this process is done inside the cooler. At times, boxes may be hand-inspected for pests and soil conditions. Once cleared, the flowers can be transported to local importers that sell to wholesalers, or to distributors, local florists, and where ordered online, delivered directly to the customer. The flowers can arrive within 24 to 48 hours after cutting.
Transporting flowers on truck carriers
Some companies may also utilize trucking lines to transport the flowers to your location. The biggest trailers are climate-controlled and equipped with air-ride suspension. This ensures the boxed flowers won’t be damaged in transit. The trucks may also feature ethylene gas scrubbers to ensure the flowers arrive fresh as they were when harvested. Transit time varies and can take several days.
Arrival at the stores
It is now the job of the florist to unbox, clean, re-cut, and refrigerate the flowers upon arrival at the store. The flowers should be re-cut every 3 days until they are used in a flower arrangement and sold to customers. The flowers should have a vase life of 3 to 10 days, depending on the flower type and variety, in the care of consumers. Re-cutting the stems, using flower food, and refrigerating the flowers overnight (but not exceeding 24 hours) all help maintain the freshness of the flowers.