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tropical flowers

Hyacinth - February 2010(printable PDF)
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What is a tropical flower, and What is not?

     Tropical flowers:
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*.

     Subtropical flowers: 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 family.

     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 issue.

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     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™).

     With Alpinias (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 (biocide).

     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 by:

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. Reid, Ph.D.

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, (604) 302-4992 and Hawai’i Tropical Flower Council

To order a copy of Neotropica: Hawaii Tropical Flower & Plant Guide, click here to visit our “Bookstore,” or call (800) 355-8086. Softcover. 128 pages. More than 750 cut flower and plant variety photos. $15

Super Floral Retailing •• Copyright 2010
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.