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What is a tropical flower,
and What is not?
As their category name suggests, tropical flowers are native to
the Torrid Zone (a.k.a. the tropics)—the section of the Earth
between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. This category
comprises Anthuriums, Heliconias, gingers, Calatheas, Musas
(ornamental/flowering banana) and orchids*.
The regions immediately on the other sides of the tropics are
known as the subtropics, and flowers that are native to those
regions are known as subtropical flowers. They include
Strelitzia (bird-of-paradise) and members of the Proteaceae
We have included Strelitzia in this article because these
flowers have similar care requirements to tropical flowers.
Proteas and their relatives, however, are not included because
they have care requirements similar to most other subtropical
flowers, such as refrigeration at 33 F to 36 F.
* Note about orchids:
While most orchids are native to tropical regions, they are not
included in this article; they will be featured in a future
Immediately remove tropical flowers from their shipping
boxes. Check the flower quality, and inspect for insects. If
insects are present, spray the flowers with an insecticidal soap
(e.g., Safer®, Garden Safe®, Ortho® EcoSense™).
(red ginger, shell ginger) and Anthuriums, you may
submerge the flower heads in room-temperature water to help
hydrate them (Alpinias, 30 minutes; Anthuriums,
two or more hours).
Next, recut the stem ends with a sharp, sterile knife,
removing at least 1 inch of stem, then immediately place them
into containers half filled with warm (100 F to 110 F) properly
proportioned flower-food solution. Some tropical flowers do not
benefit from the nutrients in flower-food solutions, but flower
food should always be used with all tropical flowers because
other ingredients in them increase water uptake (citric acid)
and control bacteria in storage and arrangement containers
Recut stems and change flower-food solution in storage
containers every other day.
Store tropical flowers at 55 F to 60 F; they are chill
sensitive and will sustain damage when stored at temperatures
lower than 50 F.
If your floral
department does not have a separate tropical flower cooler to
accommodate the higher temperature requirements of these special
blooms, store them outside the cooler, at room temperature. If
you store tropical flowers outside of a floral cooler, mist them
generously at least once a day.
Most tropical flowers are fairly resistant to the
effects of ethylene gas.
Instruct consumers to generously mist their tropical
flowers at least once a day, provide plenty of fresh flower-food
solution and avoid exposing the flowers to direct sunlight.
Some information provided
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® ,
Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
SAF Flower & Plant Care, by Terril A Nell, Ph.D. and Michael S.
Flower photos by Colin Gilliam.
Taken from Neotropica: Hawaii Tropical Flower & Plant Guide, by Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD,
and Lois Hiranaga, AIFD.
Used with permission of Design358 Publishing
302-4992 and Hawai’i Tropical Flower Council
To order a copy of Neotropica: Hawaii Tropical Flower & Plant
here to visit our “Bookstore,”
or call (800) 355-8086. Softcover. 128 pages. More
than 750 cut flower and plant variety photos. $15