Vase life of cut flowers is dependent on many variables, including the quality of the water in which the flowers are placed (Conrado et al., 1980; Durkin, 1979; Halevy and Mayak, 1979). Durkin (1979) highlighted the importance of water quality in the vase solution for cut flower longevity, and Conrado et al. (1980) described water quality as the limiting factor for cut flower vase life. Water pH, EC, and nutrient content are the three most important water quality factors to consider in postharvest quality (Conrado et al., 1980; Durkin, 1979).
It is well known that vase solution can influence the populations of yeast, bacteria, and fungi, leading to vascular blockage, thus preventing water uptake, and decreasing the longevity of cut roses (Rosa hybrids). Pompodakis et al. (2004) illustrated that a low solution pH of 6 enhances cut rose water relations, fresh weight maintenance, and vase life. It has also been observed that water held at a pH higher than 4 may contain a few microbes, but yeasts were found to be absent at the cut surface or inside the xylem of cut rose stems (van Doorn, 1997). Alternatively, too high of a water pH will likely shorten vase life and reduce water uptake because microbial growth is stimulated. There is a large consensus within the literature that upholding a low pH solution lowers the chance of microbe contamination and reduces vascular blockage, thereby allowing proper water absorption to increase vase life while deterring microbial growth most harmful to cut flowers (Gast, 2000; Reid and Kofranek, 1980; van Doorn, 1997).
Due to the variability of water quality across the country, growers, wholesalers, and retailers who use tap water for cut flower vase solutions need to strongly consider the quality of water used in storage solutions (Dole, 2012). Sensitivity to water EC varies by species. Carnation (Dianthus caryophullus) and chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ×grandiflorum) are reported to prefer a higher water EC level whereas the optimum level is lower for zinnia (Zinnia violacea) (Carlson and Dole, 2013). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has offered limited and voluntary guidelines for water EC, which specifies a maximum of 500 mg·L–1 (0.71 dS·m–1) total dissolved solids (EPA, 2011a). However, water EC can fluctuate greatly across the country from facilities, such as College Station, TX (0.75 dS·m–1), San Diego, CA (0.82 dS·m–1), and Madison, WI (<0.93 dS·m–1) (EPA, 2011b). Alternatively, the tap water in Birmingham, AL, has a low EC of only 0.14 dS·m–1 (EPA, 2011b).
The mineral composition of water can also influence vase life of cut flowers. Longevity is reportedly increased with the addition of calcium (Ca), aluminum (Al), boron (B), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), or zinc (Zn) salts (Nowak and Rudnicki, 1990; van Meeteren et al., 2000). However, Neumaier et al. (1999) found that sodium chloride (NaCl) decreased vase life at concentrations greater than 20 mm (1.17 g·L–1) in tap water. The impact of these elements on the EC of vase water solution has not been reported in the literature.
Although work we previously conducted provided information on the effects of pH (Regan and Dole, 2010), the effect of a range of water ECs alone and in combination with specific nutrients has not been tested. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to characterize the effects of water EC and solution elemental composition on rose vase life.
Carlson, A.S. & Dole, J.M. 2013 Postharvest water quality affects vase life of cut Dendranthema, Dianthus, Helianthus, and Zinnia Scientia Hort. 164 277 286 doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scienta.2013.09.024
Conrado, L.L., Shanahan, R. & Eisinger, W. 1980 Effects of pH, osmolarity and oxygen on solution uptake by cut rose flowers J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 105 680 683
Dole, J.M. 2012 Maintaining postproduction quality 463 488 Nelson, P.V. Greenhouse operation and management. 7th ed. Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River, NJ
Durkin, D. 1979 Effect of millipore filtration, citric acid, and sucrose on peduncle water potential of cut rose flower J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 104 860 863
Gast, K.L.B. 2000 Water quality: Why it is so important for florists Kansas State Univ., Agr. Expt. Sta., Coop. Ext. Serv. MF-2436.
Halevy, A.H. & Mayak, S. 1979 Senescence and postharvest physiology of cut flowers. Part 1 Hort. Rev. 1 204 236 doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118060742.ch5
Halevy, A.H. & Mayak, S. 1981 Senescence and postharvest physiology of cut flowers. Part 2 Hort. Rev. 3 59 143 doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118060766.ch3
Kuiper, D., Ribot, S., van Reenen, H.S. & Marissen, N. 1995 The effect of sucrose on the flower bud opening of ‘Madelon’ cut roses Scientia Hort. 60 325 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-4238(94)00706-L
Neumaier, D., Haas, H.P. & Roeber, R. 1999 Longevity of cut flowers as influenced by water quality and floral foam Acta Hort. 482 77 81 doi: https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1999.482.10
Nowak, J. & Rudnicki, R.M. 1990 Postharvest handling and storage of cut flowers, florist greens, and potted plants Timber Press Portland, OR
Pompodakis, N.E., Joyce, D.C., Terry, L.A. & Lydakis, D.E. 2004 Effects of vase solution pH and abscisic acid on the longevity of cut ‘Baccara’ roses J. Hort. Sci. Biotechnol. 79 828 832 doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/14620316.2004.11511850
Regan, E.M. & Dole, J.M. 2010 Determining optimum pH and EC levels for extended vase life of cut Rosa ‘Freedom’, ‘Charlotte’, and ‘Classy’ Acta Hort. 870 263 271 doi: https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2010.870.35
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2011a Drinking water contaminants U.S. Environ. Protection Agency, Office of Water Washington, DC
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2011b Water quality assessment and total maximum daily loads information U.S. Environ. Protection Agency, Office of Water Washington, DC
van Meeteren, U., van Gelder, H. & van Ieperen, W. 2000 Reconsideration of the use of deionized water as vase water in postharvest experiments on cut flowers Postharvest Biol. Technol. 18 169 181