4. Cultivation and trade of cut flowers

Authors: Péter Honfi – Márk Steiner

4.1 Definition of cut flower

Cut flower cultivation means the production of flowers divested of roots and underground part of the plant (botanically it is herb). Accordingly, every unrooted shoot containing flower or inflorescence is called as „cut” flower – irrespectively of harvesting types (cutting, breaking or pulling). This ware lives only for a short time after sale, so it is a special product within the sector of ornamental plant production. In a wider sense, dry flowers belong also to this group. They are marketed after different drying and packing treatments for long-term decoration.

However, the forcing and timing of bulbous ornamental plants belongs partly to cut flower cultivation, these plants form a separated group due to their special cultivation technology, and they are only marginally mentioned in this chapter.

Some woody flowering shrub may be also considered as cut flower, e.g. flowering shoot of lilac (Syringa vulgaris), guelder rose ( Viburnum opulus ’Roseum’) or forsythia (Forsythia × intermedia). They are neither demonstrated in this chapter.

disz.04.01Lilac as cut flower

4.2 Origin of cultivated cut flowers

In Hungary and all over the word thousands varieties of hundreds species are cultivated as cut flower. Accordingly, their origin is very different. If the most important taxa are looked on only, hybrid-groups originated from Europe and Asia (like rose), East-Asia (like chrysanthemum), South-Africa (like gerbera) and South-Europe (like carnation) may be found.

4.3 Environmental requirements of cut flowers

Of curse, the various origins go hand in hand with various environmental requirements, so the different cut flower cultures need very diverse cultural and environmental conditions. There are fundamental differences between protected and open ground cultivation: in a greenhouse environmental factors can be influenced eminently, but in open ground plants lie more under unfavourable weather.

4.3.1 Light

The most cut flowers demand a lot of light under their growing however there are significant differences between species moreover varieties in light requirement. It commonly occurs in summer shading is needed – principally, to prevent the overheating.

From the perspective of satisfaction of light requirement in rose winter and early spring may be the most crucial: if developing shoots do not get enough light, they may go „blind”, namely they develop forward vegetatively without flower induction. In the case of all year-round production supplementary assimilation lighting is needed from late autumn, which steepens the production in Hungary notably.

Assimilation lighting in gerbera production

Chrysanthemum has wide tolerance on light supply, it may bear also 60-80 thousand lux lighting, and moreover it has varieties, which may be cultivated in open ground. It can adapt also to poor light conditions, but in extreme events it liable to smaller extension. Day length influences on blooming date: as short-day plant it may be timed by blackout. The critical day length is 13-14.5 hours depends on variety, the reaction time is 6.5-12 weeks.

Gerbera has a medium light-demand; lighting of 35-40 thousand lux is enough to it. In summer the growing house has to be shaded to provide overheating, while in winter supplementary assimilation lighting has good effect.

Carnation demands light specifically, it can use light intensity over 50 thousand lux, too. It needs shading at most during the rooting period in early summer. It is facultative long-day plant, so it can produce more flowers in summer period.

Light-demand of Inca lily is similar to carnation: light speeds growing and improves flower quality. It can blooms in winter only with assimilation lighting and artificial long-day.

4.3.2 Temperature

Temperature demand of cut flowers is very diverse: it can be found every plant types from specifically thermophilous to cold tolerant ones.

Rose needs medium temperature; it grows the best in greenhouse at 16-18 °C day-time and 14-16 °C night-time temperature. Higher temperature speeds up growing, but it worsens stem strength. Over 24-25 °C temperature the flower quality fails decidedly, catabolic pathways of plant become dominant. In heating period size of flower buds and flower quality may be increased by use of hoist heating, which may be lifted continually to the level of flower buds.

Hoist heating in chrysanthemum production

From the perspective of temperature demand chrysanthemum varieties are divided into three different groups. Thermo positive varieties need over 16 °C temperature under the period of flower bud induction, thermo negative ones promote inflorescence under 15 °C (at 10-12 °C), and thermo neutral varieties can bloom at a temperature between 10-27 °C, so they are right to cultivate also in winter and summer. The development of flower buds may slow above 26 °C, and it stops above 30 °C, so the flowering fails.

Gerbera need from spring to autumn 18-22 °C day-time and 14-18 °C night-time temperature. Above 24 °C it promotes misshapen inflorescences. In winter temperature is taken about 4 °C lower. In the case of winter conditioning technology temperature may be declined to 8-12 °C, and the stand is kept dryer. Gerbera is very sensitive to soil temperature (optimum: 20-25 °C).

Carnation is a medium heat-demanding culture; rather the excessive warm affects problems during the growing. In winter temperature is held minimum on 8-10, maximum on 16 °C in day-time, and on 6-8 °C in night-time. For some time it may be held on 1-2 °C, but below 10 °C growing lets up. In summer it needs 20-22 °C, its development slows down above 24 °C, and it stops above 40 °C.

Temperature has specifically effect on blooming of Cymbidium: 3-5 weeks long vernalization at temperature of 12-16 °C is essential for flowering. Vernalization requirement of Cymbidium can most easily be satisfied by natural way: open-ended vents in autumn. At the same time, blooming may be anticipated by use of evaporative cooling pad system.

Flowering Cymbidiums in the Botta Gardening, Tordas (Hungary)

In fact, the exact temperature regulation is the root of bulbous plant forcing, too. Spring bulbous plants (tulip, daffodil, hyacinth) may be produced by the imitation of natural development stage to any time of the year.

4.3.3 Water, humidity

Rose requires persistent and abundant water supply, but it does not tolerate waterlogging. It needs 1 m3·m-2 water per year rather in little water units. Humidity influences equally on development, quality and permanence of harvested flower, therefore it is important to provide the optimal relative humidity around 60-70 % in the stand. Young plants demand higher humidity (70-80 %) in the first 2-3 weeks after planting.

Chrysanthemum is a water-consuming culture. Its roots are located in the upper 20-30 cm soil layer, therefore it require irrigation frequently in little water units. In summer 25-30 l water may be given to the stand per square meter in a week, while in winter 6-10 l·m-2 is enough. 60-70 % relative humidity is optimal, after planting in summer 80 % is demanded.

Gerbera is a water- and humidity-demanding plant. It needs 2 m3·m-2 water per year, which is twice as much as water requirement of rose, which was also described as water-demanding culture. In summer it may be irrigated by overhead and mist irrigation, that relative humidity of 60-70 % can be insured easier. In winter rather drip or trickle irrigation is preferred.

Carnation needs also relatively abundant water-supply for optimal growing: in a year 800-900 l water is got out per square meter. Its root-system is located in the upper 15-30 cm of the soil therefore it should be irrigated rather more often in smaller units (around 10 mm). This culture is not sensitive to humidity. Preferably, avoid leaves contact with water, it may increase humidity if required with the wetting of paths.

4.3.4 Soil, nutrients

Rose is a permanent, deep-rooting culture therefore it requires deep, medium hard soil with. It is a nutrient-demanding, however specifically salt-resistant plant, that is why fertilization may be done only by nutrient solution with low (0.5-1 per mille) concentration. In our days the modern growing systems are based on hydroculture: rose is cultivated on coir or rock wool. Whatever method is adopted, in order to avoid salt accumulation it is necessary to check the irrigation water and soil regularly.

In the case of gerbera the good soil structure is also an important expectation, however it is cultivated mostly not in greenhouse soil, but in synthetic soil mixtures. Different additives are applied for medium scarification as replacement of traditional leaf mould. The latest cropping technology is the hydroculture. Nutrient-supply is done by slow-release and organic fertilizers mixed into the soil together with liquid fertilizing. From autumn to spring potassium and phosphorus dominant (N:P:K=2:2.5:4), in summer nitrogen dominant (N:P:K= 2:0.8:1.5) nutrient combination is favourable. Concentration may be 1-3 ‰, gerbera is not too salt-sensitive. In the case of iron and copper deficiency supplementary application of foliar fertilizers may be reasonable.

disz.04.06 disz.04.07 disz.04.08 disz.04.09
Gerbera production systems

Chrysanthemum may be cultivated in any medium hard, stable structured soil, which is high in nutrients. It is a nutrient-demanding plant with relatively good salt-resistance (it may be irrigated also by nutrient solution of 4 per mille). During vegetative growing (under long-day conditions) nitrogen dominant, from the beginning of blackout or the natural short-days potassium dominant fertilizers are applied. Iron deficiency can be terminated by use of special chelated foliar fertilizers.

Carnation grows the better in light or medium hard soil, which has good structure and neutral or slightly alkaline pH. It is a potassium-demanding culture. Similar to rose, it is salt-resistant: above 2 ‰ salt content its growing slows down, their leaves become thinner and distorted. It may be cultivated exceedingly in hydroculture (on rock wool or coir), the infection of soilborne. Fusarium can be so prevented.

Carnation varieties in featured bed

4.4 Production areas, growing structures

It was already written about the global realignment of production areas in the first chapter: this phenomenon is decidedly typical, if the cut flower can be easily transported: in the case of rose and carnation the volume of import flowers is very significant. For Hungarian growers it is worth building upon those advantages, which may make the inland goods competitive: for example the horticultural utilization of Hungarian thermal resource in rose growing, or such production for demands of traditional markets like chrysanthemum growing for All Souls’ Day. The production of some cut products (e.g. cut gerbera) are able to stay next to markets due to their difficult transport, in other case the transport of weighty and slimsy cut flowers (e.g. calla, lilly) is uneconomic, but leastwise it steepen the import.

According to species and varieties cultivation may be done in greenhouse or open-ground, respectively it may also be started in open-ground – for example in traditional chrysanthemum growing – and later it is enough to cover the stand with polythene. It can say generally, that it is easier to provide for uniform heat distribution and humidity in modern glasshouses which have great gutter height, so the development seems to be along these lines. In the case of under plastic cultivation limited abilities to ventilation may cause problems, although it can be solved it better in newer plastic houses – for example by the lowering and opening of sidewalls.

4.5 Cultivation

Due to the limits of length we may not undertake the detailed reviews of growing system of each cut flower culture in the present learning. Our aim is to demonstrate the different technological methods on some representative examples.

4.5.1 Propagation

Seed sowing . Although, the untold varieties of the main cut flower cultures are propagated mostly by vegetative way, of curse, the method is not obligate: generative propagation (seed sowing) is present in the case of many cultures, which have less significance in Hungary.

Seed is sowed often by specialized businesses, by propagation-material distributors, and the growers usually buy seedlings. In state-of-the-art horticultural businesses seeds are sowed by sowing machine into cell trays. Seeds are germinated in germination-room at adequate temperature of each variety, at relative humidity of 100 %. Full-grown seedlings are sold in cell trays.

Varieties of Eustoma grandiflorum, which are propagated by seeds, are sensitive during propagation. Their seeds are sowed to the surface of the soil, and they germinate on 21-26 °C in 10-15 days. Their small seeds are often pelleted. Similar method is applied in the propagation of blue throatwort ( Trachaelium caeruleum), but the germination temperature is lower in this species (16-20 °C).

In the case of tropical species (e.g. Strelitzia reginae) soaking in 28-30 °C water may be needed before germination, and germination may take long time (40-50 days). Other species, like poppy anemone (Anemone coronaria) requires cold effect (at 4°C for 1 week) for germination.

Those annuls and biennials, which are cultivated (also) as cut flower, are propagated traditionally by seed sowing (for example china aster – Callistephus chinensis, snapdragon – Antirrhinum majus, stock – Matthiola incana, and many other cut flowers, which are cultivated in home gardens and small businesses.

Cutting propagation. The rooting of stem tip cuttings is a widely applied propagation process in cut flower cultures. Among the main cultures chrysanthemum and carnation are propagated by this way, but flamingo flower (Anthurium andreanum hybrids), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Bouvardia, goldenrods (Solidago) hybrids, and partly rose may propagate so.

Production of chrysanthemum cuttings in the Gardening of Fides

Unrooted carnation cuttings

disz.04.14 disz.04.15
Rooted carnation cuttings

In the case of main cultures propagation material is produced by specialized businesses. They are able to maintain stock plants and produce cuttings due to the up-to-date technology and the compliance of hygienic requirements. Cuttings may be offered as unrooted[1] and also as rooted cutting. Propagation includes sometimes (e.g. in carnation) the virus elimination stage, too: under in vitro conditions perfectly virus free super elite mother plants are produced, from which elite cuttings originate. The growers buy mostly „virus poor” cuttings originate from these.

Auxin containing compounds (usually NAA – naphthylacetic acid) may be applied to promote rooting. Mostly, the rooting medium is nutrient free and sterile peat, perlite (possibly sand) or the mixture of them. For rooting, bottom heat of 20-22 °C and high relative humidity (polythene cover) is required. The exact bottom heat and rooting time depend on species, moreover varieties.

Expect stem tip cuttings some taxa (e.g. Asclepias tuberosa) may also be propagated by shoot or root cuttings, but it has rather small significance.

The propagation of Cymbidium by pseudobulbus is also cutting propagation in a strict sense. In so doing this bald, shrivelled, old organs are planted into peat, and they make sprout out in humid condition, and then they grow on for 2 years, as long as they become able to bloom.

propagation from pseudobulbus

Grafting (budding) . It is the traditional propagation method of greenhouse roses. However, this propagation material is more expensive compared to cuttings, grafted roses are more cold tolerant and live longer, furthermore there are varieties, which can represent the typical flower colour of variety on rootstock only.

Division . This method was applied in the traditional growing, today it is an unfrequented process in a few culture. Its failure, that it gives few offsprings, therefore its use diminished nowadays. For example bird of paradise (Strelitzia) may be propagated so, although one year before division root undercutting has to be done to make branch the vulnerable roots next to ground surface, and so enables the plant to survive the procedure. This method is applied also in the propagation of Cymbidium orchid, which is cultivated in Hungary, too: after blooming, before the start of shoot growing, per 3-4 years a full-grown orchid stool may be divided into 3 parts. Because of the robust stools division can be made by crasser tools (e.g. axe) only. African lily (Agapanthus) may also be propagated by division however seed sowing and micropropagation may come into question, too.

Propagation by storage organs . The growing of bulbous, tuberous, cormous and rhizomatous plants is started almost always by the planting of storage organs, which are produced specialized propagation material distributors. The most important bulbous plants are tulip Tulipa), daffodil (Narcissus), lily ( Lilium), Dutch iris (Iris × hollandica), hyacinth (Hyacinthus) and amaryllis (Hippeastrum) hybrids. Gladiolus and Freesia have corm, while calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) and poppy anemone (Anemone coronaria) may be propagated by tuber. Inca lily (Alstroemeria hybrids) and Persian buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus) have thickened storage roots. Some fast-growing bulbous-tuberous cut flowers may be propagated also by seed sowing; accordingly there is a version of freesias and poppy anemone cultivation, which is started with seed sowing.

Planting of pre-cultivated lily bulbs

Micropropagation . It is the widely used method of bulk propagation and rapid multiplying of new varieties. Laboratory, in vitro propagation had been developed on several species. Strict technical standards have to be observed, in principle unlimited quantities of offspring may be produced from one stock plant. It is an expensive, but very efficient method. Among others it is applied in the propagation of gerbera, Cymbidium, Strelitzia, Anthurium.

Micropropagated gerbera plants after planting

4.5.2 Planting

The bought propagation material is planted usually to its final place, but shorter or longer pre-growing may be necessary in some culture: for example the seedlings of Strelitzia reginae are transplanted more times before they are planted to final place.

Strelitzia reginae
in pots

Plants may be planted into greenhouse soil, or into synthetic medium in raised bed, trough, pot, or in hydroculture.

If it is grown on greenhouse soil, by right of soil analysis soil improvement and fertilization have to be done before planting. Adequate quantity of organic manure and fertilizer, as well as soil improving and scarification substrates (bark, peat, coir, straw, rice hull, e.g.) – if it is required – have to be got out.

In those cultures, which are more sensitive to soil-borne pests and diseases (carnation, lily, chrysanthemum), it is practical to use a minimum three-years crop rotation or soil disinfection (steaming).

Soil disinfection with steaming

There is planted to final spacing; planting density depends largely on species and varieties and on applied cultivation practices. For example if carnation is cultivated in normal growing cycle, 40-42 stools are planted per square meter, while in rapid cultivation (6-8 months) 60 plants may be planted in the same area, and in elongated production cycle planting density is 20-25 stools per square meter. In the case of standard chrysanthemum varieties, which are grown with 2-3 stems, planting density is 28-36 stools per square meter. This value is 84-96 in Santini varieties, which have the smallest flowers and grown without pinching back.

There is planted in beds, between them there are paths. It is beneficial to place light-demanded and larger plants, like rose, in twin bed system.

It is general rule that it must not plant too deep: the root ball of propagation material has to get to the same level, where it was originally: the danger of rot and extinction can be so avoided. In some cultures (e.g. in carnation) shallow planting is suggested that one third of root ball has to be over the ground. Of curse, it does not refer to bulbous-tuberous plants, which are planted below the surface of ground as a general rule (but not in all cases).

Chrysanthemum cuttings planted in bed-system

4.5.3 Irrigation, humidifying

There may be more alternatives to the irrigation of cut flower cultures, but they have different efficiency and cost. The simplest way of them is the hand irrigation with hose, however nowadays it is used only in small businesses and „for want of better”.

The advantage of overhead irrigation is also the increasing of air humidity, but it is not subservient to use it, if the culture is tends more to rot. It is well suited for the summer cultivation of gerbera and for floral initiation of lily. It is practical to establish a system with micro sprinklers, which form fine mist. It more improves the humidity, and the fine mist dries up more quickly from the leaves. Overhead irrigation has to be timed so that the foliage should be dried up before dark or blackout.

Irrigation by soaker hose may be applied almost in every culture. It means a perforated hose, which is laid to the ground next to the plants. If this method is used, humidifying has to be solved by another way.

Drop irrigation is one of the most effective watering method. It may use in pot growing system (e.g. in gerbera, Cymbidium) and in hydroculture.

4.5.4 Fertilization

In the case of cut flowers – as in every horticultural production – fertilization rests on two keystones: on the basal dressing which is made during soil preparation, and during the growing on fertigation. The sufficient quantity and quality of fertilizers is determined by the condition and content of soil, and by the requirements of cultivated plant.

If synthetic medium is used for growing, nutrient combination of medium is assembled after the requirement of the plant.

The placement of nutrient solution is made by irrigation system. Nutrients are blended mostly by automatic systems according to given formulation. In some cases supplementary fertilization may be required; certain deficiency symptoms (e.g. copper or iron deficiency) may be redressed or prevented by it.

Drip irrigation of rose in hydroculture

4.5.5 Phytotechnical operations

Several species have different needs or rather opportunities for the use of phytotechnical methods. There will be presented shortly by some examples.

Netting . The lodging of cut flower stems may be prevented by setting out of square plastic nets (so called carnation or chrysanthemum nets). For example, chrysanthemum, carnation, lily, lisianthus and celosia is prone to lodging. Fundamentally, two netting methods are known: in first case more (generally 3) net levels are set out during the growing, while in other case only one net is raised gradually as the plants grow. The first net level is already placed before planting, which facilitates the exact observance of planting density. Plants, which have stronger (e.g. rose) or shorter (e.g. gerbera) stem, do not need netting. Instead of netting other species, like bird of paradise, are surrounded by wire, plastic string or line towards the facilitation of moving.

Netting of carnation

Tying . In cut Cymbidium production stem is tied by flexible ties to the upper wire system towards growth of straight stems. A little plastic hook is hooked on the pedicel of an upper flower bud, and it is stained by the flexible ties.

Tying of Cymbidium flowers

Heading back . It means the removal of growing shoot tip by hand or secateurs. It affects the branching of plant, so more flower stems are developed on it. Out of the main cultures it may be applied in chrysanthemum and carnation. It may have significance also in timing. Plants, which are cut back in the same height level, bloom together, and this date can be calculated in advance in view of a given culture. In carnation production light value table of Aicardi is intended for that purpose: by the help of it expected date of flowering can be forecasted. Every month have a light unit, and after 22 light units blooming of single pinched plants will supervene. Blooming may be timed by the changing of number and date of pinchings.

Pruning . In traditional rose production the main period of blooming may be timed by pruning – similar to heading back – or rather by harvesting. 3 or 4 flowering periods may be made so in a year.

Bending . It is used in rose production for the replacement of pruning in bending technique, where thinner shoots are slightly twisted, then they are bended with a short motion, and so they are retained as an assimilation surface. Due to hormone accumulation strong shoots are spouted out from the basal of the bended shoots.

Disbudding . Axillary shoots, which are not allowed to bloom, are removed: they are pinched from leaf axillaries. So only one, well-developed terminal flower or inflorescence is allowed on the stem. It is essential in standard rose and traditional (disbudded) chrysanthemum cultivation. Side buds are also had to remove beside terminal bud.

Pinching out . In the case of spray varieties (e.g. in rose and chrysanthemum), if terminal bud is removed, apical dominance is broken, and flowers and inflorescences of side shoots will be almost coeval, and bloom on same level and time.

Removing, thinning . Dead leaves are major threat, because pests and diseases may multiply on or rather between them, therefore they have to be removed regularly. It is an important process in gerbera and rose (in the case of bending technique) cultivation. In other species – for example in Inca lily – too thick stand may affect the blindness of stems (failure of blooming) because of lack of light. It may be promoted by thinning.

Defoliation . It means the removing of some leaves towards stimulation of blooming. It is applied in Anthurium and Strelitzia cultivation, where the leaves may also be sold.

4.5.6 Plant protection

In greenhouse cut flower production presence of different pests and diseases has to be expected, according to cultivated species, however there are more harmful organisms, which may cause significant economic damages on several host plants. The harmful organisms of the main cultures are the followings:

The protection against powdery mildew is the backbone of plant protection in rose production. Furthermore, botrytis, downy mildew, rose rust and spot diseases – which damage on foliage – may occur. Out of pests, spider mite, greenhouse whitefly and aphids are the most notably.

White rust is the most important disease on chrysanthemum, but botrytis may also cause great damages – especially in traditional production, in autumn. It may be infected by Fusarium from the soil, as well as by different viruses and Micosphaerella from propagation material. Piercing and sucking insects (aphids, mites, thrips) are important virus vectors. Lygus bugs may cause significant damages in production of disbudded chrysanthemums. It injures flower buds and so causes distorted flowers. Its quarantine pest is the soil dwelling chrysanthemum leaf nematode.

Out of diseases on gerbera Phytophthora has outstanding significance. It multiplies mainly in cold and wet soil dangerously, and it occurs often together with other wilt diseases. Other most commonly found disease is grey mold, which may cause symptoms on every above-ground part of the plant. In pests, greenhouse whitefly, two-spotted spider mite and American serpentine leafminer could be extracted.

4.5.7 Timing

It is written in detail about timing of blooming in the chapter about growth regulation of ornamental plants. There is wide range of applied methods, and the significance of timing – in Hungarian conditions – is the most outstanding in cut flower cultures. Hungarian customers buy cut flowers on the so called specific days, therefore market demand is very wavering, and sale period is often really short.

In this regard, chrysanthemum is commanding among of cultures, around its 70 % is sold up to this day in All Souls’ Day. Applied timing methods in several cultures are summarized in the table bellow.

Timing methods of the main cut flower cultures


Timing methods


Main sale periods


phytotechnical operation

pruning, harvesting, bending

all-year-round, as well as for specific days, typically from early spring (Valentine’s Day) to autumn (Katherine, Elizabeth)


Short-day treatment

Black plastic foil or fabrics

all-year-round, demand of spray varieties is more or less steady, outstanding sale period: All Souls’ Day


phytotechnical operation


all-year-round, as well as for specific days

4.5.8 Harvesting

Storage life of cut flowers is influenced by harvesting time and method, therefore acquirement of typical technology of species is very important. Optimal harvesting time is determined by typical phenological stage of several species. It is also influenced by the date of harvesting (winter or summer), because in summer fast-blooming flowers may be harvested in an earlier developmental stage. There are differences in harvesting in the case of outright and after-storage sale.

Rose is ready for harvest, if calyxes split and bud is slightly open. The opening of carnation is defined by flower shape. In summer flowers are harvested in „V” stage, while in winter in „T” stage. For post-harvest flower bud opening (see later) flowers may be picked in tight bud stage, too. Practically, chrysanthemum is harvested in whole opening, while in gerbera harvesting time is determined by the opening of tubular flowers (circles of male flowers): in winter it is picked with 3-4, in summer with 1-2 opened circles of male flowers. Picking of Inca lily starts, if at least one flower opens and shows its colour in the inflorescence. Bird of paradise may be harvested, if at least one flower rises from the inflorescence spathe. Flamingo flower is mature for picking, if bract expands completely, and half of the spadix is coloured. Cymbidium flowers may be harvested singly or in cluster, in the latter case it is more advantageous to wait for the opening of last flower. In the time of blooming stand has to be protected from humble-bees, because due to pollination senescence speeds up, flowers fade away and they can not be sold. Flowers of bulbous plants are harvested typically as undeveloped as possible. Vase life can be so increased: tulip can also be picked in green bud stage, while daffodil in closed bud stage, however customers do not have an open mind in every time on these „immature” flowers. Lily has to be harvested in closed bud stage, because opened flower is fragile, it is difficult to transport them.

Harvesting method depends also on species. It is worth picking rose with special rose shear, with which flower stem may be held and pulled out from the stand. Carnation is broken at nodes, while gerbera is broken by twisting. It is worth harvesting chrysanthemum also with braking. Tulip and hyacinth are cut by shear, or picked together with bulb and cut by machine. Daffodil is cut, or pinched from stool by hand. Bird of paradise may be harvested by cutting, while calla lily by twisting from leaf sheath. Cymbidium is cut by knife, for prevention of virus transmission knife is sterilized after every plant, or private knifes are used for plants showing virus symptoms.

Cut rose ready for harvest

Stages of opening of carnation

Anthurium ready for harvest

Harvesting of cut lily

4.6 Marketing, trade

4.6.1 Manipulation of cut flowers

The unrooted flowering stem is non-viable in a long term therefore the extension of vase life (delay of unavoidable wilting of flower) is an important aim.

Storage time depends on species and varieties considerably: while the flowers of most bulbous plants (e.g. tulip, daffodil) ornate in a vase for a few days only, some species (e.g. bird of paradise, chrysanthemum, orchids) may live for 4-6 weeks in the case of appropriate treatment.

Of curse, vase life is determined dramatically by general and health condition of the plant, and by environmental conditions of growing (for example the steadiness of water and nutrient supply). Nitrogen pronounced nutrient supply is favourable not only for formation of loose tissues, but it impair vase life, too.

Harvesting time may also have important effect. However, flowers have more turgor pressure in the morning, and plants contain more water, their dry-matter content is lower compared to evening. Therefore it is advised today to harvest the more sensitive flowers rather in the evening and stand them into water immediately so as to make up for water deficit.

Pulse treatment . It is the most common way of the increasing of vase life. When doing so, new-cut flowers are stood for a few hours into clean water or cut flower food solution in a cold place on height relative humidity. Into the solution preservatives and citric acid (for pH reducing) are dosed.

Saturating . It is a sort (approx 10 minutes) antiseptic pulse treatment of cut flower with silver nitrate solution. Earlier it was used in carnation, gerbera, gladiolus, chrysanthemum, China aster and snapdragon, but nowadays it is not allowed.

Refill . It means a longer, specific pulsing with solutions containing disinfectants and mostly sugars. It is done before longer transport or storage under lighting, on 20-27 °C.

Cut flower foods . It is subservient to add preservatives to the water of cut flowers during pulsing, storage and sale. Their contain nutrients (monosaccharides), disinfectants, growth regulators and substances for reducing surface tension of water.

Opening . It is a relatively rare practice (mostly used in carnation), which can not be applied in every species. In doing so, flowers are harvested in an earlier opening stage, then they are stored, and before sale they are stood into solution containing sugar and disinfectant, and they are opened in same conditions as it was written earlier in the case of refill.

4.6.2 Grading, packing and storage of cut flowers

Cut flowers are graded mostly according to stem length, flower number and/or size. Depending on species and marketing method 1, 5, 10, 20 or 25 flowers in same quality class are packed in a package.

During the preparation it is practical to clear away leaves from the lower part of flower stem to avoid so the rot of the leaves.

In more valuable plants (for example in orchids and flamingo flower) every flower stems are put into a phial filled with water, and they are stored and transported with them.

Manipulation of cut Cymbidium before packing

In large-scale production grading is carried out mechanically. It can grade and band the flowers which are in same quality class. Curved, damaged and short flowers are rejected by the grading machine.

In the case of dry storage flowers are packed firstly into soft, white silk paper then they are put in carton boxes lined with polythene, which are cooled to 1-2 °C then closed hermetically. Among others, carnation and lily may be stored so. Those flowers, which are liable to bending (gladiolus, snapdragon), have to be stored vertically.

Dry storage of cut lily (right: pulse treatment)

In wet storage flowers are stood in water or preservative solution and stored on 3-4 °C.

In the case of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage the air is richer in carbon dioxide and poorer in oxygen in the storage room. It decreases the intensity of respiration and ethylene synthesis.

In the course of low pressure (LP) storage also the more opened flowers may be stored with good efficiency on pressure of 0,05-0,1 bar, temperature of 2 °C and relative humidity of 98 %. In these conditions CO2 and ethylene exit quickly from the flower which slows down senescence.

Wet storage of cut rose

4.6.3 Marketing channels

Cut flowers get from the growers to the customers directly only in exceptional cases. Between the „points” there is at least one but often two agents, which is elongates the time of sale. Therefore each members of the distribution chain have to make every possible effort to ensure the professional handling and storage of flowers.

The sale on wholesale flower markets is reckoned as traditional and most typical form of trade in Hungary. When doing so, growers and importers sell their goods to retailers (flower shop owners). Its advantage, that fresh flowers get to retailers, its disadvantage, that growers must do the transport and sale oneself. For the sales channelled through purchasers, goods are taken over from the growers by purchasers.

Flora Hungaria Flower Market in Szigetszentmiklós

Abroad (particularly in the Netherlands) trade in flower auction is the special way of sale. When doing so, the item may be bought by the highest bidders. However, it differs from the traditional auction, because the recommended selling price decreases gradually, so the first bidder gets the goods. It is called Dutch auction.

Flower auction in Aalsmeeer, Netherlands

In retail, flower may be bought today through more sales channels: beside the traditional trade in flower shops the significance of supermarkets and flower delivery services will probably increase. The disadvantage of supermarkets, that cut flowers are always complementary goods here, therefore often they do not pay enough attention to them, and their quality leaves something to be desired.

Flower shop

Cut flower machine


  • Ball, V. (1997): BallRedbook. Greenhouse Growing. Prentice Hall Inc., Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA.
  • Escher, F. (1983): Schnittblumenkulturen. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart
  • Horn, W. (szerk.) (1996): Zierpflanzenbau. Blackwell Wissenschaftsverlag, Berlin-Wien.
  • Nagy B. (1972): Vágott virágok. Szabadföldi, üvegházi termesztés, hajtatás, gyűjtés. Mezőgazdasági Kiadó, Budapest.
  • Nagy B. (szerk.) (1986): Növényházi dísznövények termesztése és hajtatása. Mezőgazdasági Kiadó, Budapest.
  • Paksy Zs. (1980): Egész évben krizantém. Mezőgazdasági Kiadó, Budapest.
  • Rogers, M. N. és Tjia, B. O. (1990): Gerbera Production. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, USA.
  • Tillyné Mándy A. és Honfi P. (szerk.) (2011): Növényházi dísznövénytermesztés. Egyetemi jegyzet. Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Kertészettudományi Kar, Budapest.
  • Tóth E. (szerk.) (2008): A krizantém. Mezőgazda Kiadó, Budaspest.
  • Zimmer, K. (szerk.) (1991): Hauptkulturen im Zierpflanzenbau. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart.

[1] unrooted cutting: it has not yet grown roots





A projekt célja magyar és angol nyelvű digitális tananyagok fejlesztése a Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem Kertészettudományi Karának hét tanszékén. Az összesen 14 tananyag (hét magyar, hét angol) a kertészmérnök Msc szak és a multiple degree képzés keretében kerül felhasználásra. A digitális tartalmak az Egyetem e-learning keretrendszerével kompatibilis formában készülnek el.


Sikeres pályázat

A projekt célja magyar és angol nyelvű digitális tananyagok fejlesztése a Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem Kertészettudományi Karának hét tanszékén. Az összesen 14 tananyag (hét magyar, hét angol) a kertészmérnök Msc szak és a multiple degree képzés keretében kerül felhasználásra. A digitális tartalmak az Egyetem e-learning keretrendszerével kompatibilis formában készülnek el.

A tananyagok az Új Széchenyi Terv Társadalmi Megújulás Operatív Program támogatásával készülnek.



A pályázat felidejére elkészültek a lektorált tananyagok, amelyek feltöltése folyamatban van. 


uszt logoTÁMOP-4.1.2.A/1-11/1-2011-0028

Utolsó frissítés: 2014 11. 13.