Care & Handling

Picture Perfect Prom Prep

It’s All About Looking Good

Proms are an electric mix of fun, fear and fantasy. Going for their first ride in a limousine, donning fancy gowns, primping their nails and hair just so, and picking out flower art for an overall glam look are some of the thrills. At the same time, guys fret about looking good on the dance floor and then there are selfies galore, which teens share and compare, provoking anxiety.

The flowers may seem like a small part of the whole scene, but they show up in photos over and over again. Good mechanics are required so crystals remain attached, curly-que wire stays put and blooms make it through the entire night. (Consider the dance floor action and rough handling bound to occur during bloom trade-offs!)

Whether wiring and taping blooms or using cold adhesive glue, hydrate everything first in flower food. Use the same solution you put in vases. Cut stems short and let them drink for an hour before starting construction. After flowers are completely hydrated, but before starting designs, fill a plastic salad bowl with Hawaiian Floral Mist and submerge blooms and foliage for a minute. This action ensures all the elements are protected against premature wilting. Let the blooms and greens drip dry on a paper towel before moving forward in the design process.

Bottle Service for Delicate Blooms

Gardenias and stephanotis might be more apropos for wedding work than prom designs, but if you’re working with these blooms, keep your hands wet with bottled water. High salts and minerals common in tap water can cause pepper spots. Wet hands also prevent petal yellowing that occurs when oils in skin come in contact with thick, creamy petals.

Mechanics 101

When wiring blooms, leave ample calyx tissue in place to anchor the floret on its new wire stem. Prefer cold glue? Cut flowers down to the base of the bloom and remove calyx and sepal tissues. This eliminates excess bulk and ensures the actual flower structure adheres to the armature rather than just the calyx tissues. Today’s pop and hip-hop hits inspire some creative dance moves, and blooms pop off the calyx rather easily! Cold glue is like rubber cement. You need to apply it to the armature and/or ribbon base as well as the base of flowers before securing the two sections together. Can’t get cold glue off your fingers or the work table? Spray a bit of Chrysal Leaf Shine to loosen the acetone compounds.

Once designs are completed, lightly spritz blooms with Chrysal Glory finishing spray to slow moisture loss (avoid spraying the ribbons). Keep corsages out of the cooler for about 30 minutes so leaves and petals are completely dry. Moisture triggers petal spotting if blooms are wet going into the cooler. Finally, place completed designs in bags or boxes and store in a cooler so the products are cool prior to pick up.

Education is Essential

Never assume consumers, especially teenagers, have knowledge of flower handling. Always send your pieces out with instructions. Specify which is the right shoulder, wrist, ankle or lapel to wear a corsage or boutonnière and give details about which direction is right side up. Remind customers to store the blooms in a cool, dark location rather than leaving the box in the car. The kitchen refrigerator is not the best choice since the blooms would likely share space with ethylene-producing fruits and veggies. Plus, that beautiful art piece can take a beating as the milk carton moves in and out. Also make sure teens know the freezer is absolutely unacceptable! (You’d be surprised what they might think…)

Encourage teens to take lots of photos early in the evening so the blooms are as beautiful as the people wearing them. Consider offering a discount on a next purchase or a free gift if they include your shop’s hashtag on the Instagram messages bound to be lighting up cyberspace as party-goers celebrate the evening.

Gay Smith
Gay Smith is the technical consulting manager for Chrysal USA.
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