“Tips for cut-flower care and shop maintenance that will increase the life of the blooms you sell and customers’ satisfaction with them.” 

You’re a floral retailer who provides great products and impeccable services. If only more people knew you existed! Often, success is about timing. Right now, the calendar is cooperating as we all hurtle toward one of the most important holidays of the year: Mother’s Day.

The opportunity to make a splash and build momentum is evident, says the National Retail Federation. Mother’s Day spending in the U.S. should be something on the order of $23 billion, with an average bill of around $180. Nearly nine out of 10 of us will celebrate Mom in some way, and almost 70 percent of us will give flowers, to the tune of roughly $2.6 billion.

For consumers who are new to the holiday, new to your neighborhood or simply looking for a change, it’s a time for first impressions. In this business, consumers are eager to form relationships with trusted vendors, so it’s an opportunity to earn your sliver of that $23 billion in the days leading up to May 12 and make lasting impressions that lead to repeat business.

In today’s connected digital world, most lasting impressions are still made in a store. It’s the atmosphere you create, from your window displays to the retail floor. It’s the service you provide, from consultation to the craftsmanship of your designs. And, most of all, it’s the flowers, from the care and handling you give your stock to the conditions in your cooler and your workroom. It’s the quality, freshness and vase life of your creations that will satisfy Mother’s Day customers and keep them coming back.

On that note, here are valuable Mother’s Day dos and don’ts for retailers.

• Clean and sanitize cooler floors, walls and shelves before the holiday rush with a commercial floral cleaner/disinfectant.
• Sweep cooler floors daily. Remove leaves, petals and stems that may carry disease spores.
• Scrub and sanitize flower buckets after every use.
• Clean and sanitize design tables, knives and clippers several times daily.
• Inspect and process flowers immediately upon arrival.
• Recut stems (1-1.5 inches) with clean, sanitized, sharp clippers (unless using a special no-cut flower food).
• Carefully dose flower food per label instructions.
• Remove sleeves from flowers at time of processing. This keeps flowers dry and ensures maximum air flow to help avoid diseases.
• Check cooler conditions three or four times daily. Keep temperatures at 34 F to 38 F, with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 85 percent.   Remember not to store tropical flowers in this cooler.
• Use flower-food solution in all arrangements. Remember to soak flower foam in water mixed with flower food.
• Give customers flower-food sachets to make 1 quart (1L) of solution. Flower food is an inexpensive insurance policy that helps ensure the longest possible customer flower enjoyment.
• Don’t store flowers outside cooler unless you want them to open more rapidly or they are ready for sale.
• Don’t cut flowers underwater.
• Don’t leave foliage on stems below the water level.
• Don’t leave stems out of solution once they are cut.
• Don’t store flowers near fruits or vegetables.
• Don’t assume anyone else is going to perform these tasks – assign responsibility! 
Floralife, a division of Smithers-Oasis, is a worldwide leader in postharvest flower care and handling. Inventors of the first cut flower food in 1938, Floralife has developed products to feed, hydrate, nourish and protect cut flowers at every level in the distribution chain. To learn more about cut flower care and handling, visit floralife.com