of the month
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Chaenomeles: Flowering quince
Forsythia: Golden bells
Prunus: Cherry, Plum, Peach, Nectarine, Apricot, Almond (the
Salix: Pussy willow, Goat willow, Great willow, Florist’s
Spiraea: Bridal wreath
Flowering quince has 11⁄2-inch-wide flowers on tough, springy
branches with finely toothed leaves.
Forsythias have four-petaled flowers on soft-wooded stems. These
brilliant yellow or gold blossoms make excellent cut flowers.
Most of the familiar species of Prunus produce scented, five-petaled
Pussy willows have grayish-white, fuzzy catkins (spikes of
unisexual, apetalous flowers).
Spiraeas’ flowers, resembling tiny roses, are massed on each
flower cluster. The stems are wiry and are covered with narrow,
Prunus blooms are available in hues of pink and white; Spiraea
blooms are white or pink; Forsythia blooms are yellow only;
flowering quince is available in hues of coral, orange, pink and
white; and pussy willow catkins are grayish-white.
Lasting quality will depend upon genus (or type). Blooming
branches usually last five to seven days, but some can last from
two to three weeks.
Availability varies, but in general, these blooming branches are
available from late winter through spring.
REFRIGERATION Store blooming
branches in a floral cooler at 34 F to 38 F and at a humidity
level between 90 percent and 95 percent.
WATER Check the water level
daily and replenish flower-food solution as needed. It is
beneficial to recut the stems every two or three days to ensure
effective water uptake.
Do not mash, smash or split woody branch stem ends. Contrary to
popular misconception, these practices do not help woody stems
take up water faster; in fact, these practices inhibit water
absorption because they damage the vascular system of the
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Some
blooming branches are sensitive to ethylene gas. Make sure your
woody stems have been treated with an anti-ethylene product at
the grower level or during transportation.
HEAT SOURCES Advise
customers to display blooming branches in as cool a location as
possible, out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. If
possible, they should put the branches in the coldest rooms at
night and mist them for longer enjoyment.
Other flowering branches with similar care requirements:
BLOOMS Avoid purchasing
spikes with more than three-quarters of the blooms already
FOLIAGE Botrytis and water
stress will cause leaf yellowing and reduced life.
BUYING Purchase the blossoms
before they open to avoid damage or shattering.
DESIGN Most blooming
branches are considered free-form, linear design material that
will add size, grace, style and elegance to many arrangements.
BLOOMING Force branches into
bloom by putting them in 82 F water with sugar, flower-food
solution and several drops of bleach for 12 hours in a warm,
well-lit area. Next, place the branches in a properly prepared
flower-food solution. Keep the humidity high or mist the
branches frequently. It will take up to three weeks for the
branches to bloom. Replace the solution frequently, and recut
the stems to keep them open.
MEANING “Chaenomeles” is a
compound Greek word that means “split” and “apple.”
Forsythia is named for William Forsyth (1737-1804), a Scottish
gardener who became superintendent of the Royal Garden of
“Prunus” is Latin for “plum tree.”
“Salix” is Latin for “willow.”
“Spiraea” comes from the Greek word “speira” for “wreath.”
FAMILY Prunus, Spiraea and
flowering quince are members of the Rosaceae (rose family).
Relatives include rose, Cotoneaster, Geum (avens), apple and
Forsythia is a member of the Oleaceae (olive) family. Relatives
include ash, jasmine, Osmanthus, lilac and olive.
Pussy willow is a member of the Salicaceae (willow) family and
is related to cottonwood, poplar, aspen and curly willow.
ORIGINS Prunus and flowering
quince are native to China and Japan, Spiraea comes from China,
Forsythia comes from China and Eastern Europe, and pussy willow
is native to Eastern North America.
ALLERGY-FREE The American
Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology lists blooming
branches as allergy-safe pollen-producing plants.
Some information provided by:
The Chain of Life Network,
Roy Borodkin, Brannan Street Wholesale Florist, Inc., San
Botanica’s Trees & Shrubs
You may reach “Cut Flower of the Month” writer Steven W.
Brown, AIFD, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
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