Carnations, or dianthus caryophyllus, have become one of the most purchased commercial fresh-cut flowers. These types of flowers have benefited from specific solutions like STS (silver thiosulfate) that help to increase their vase life two to threefold. Carnations come in a wide range of colors and forms that allow florists and consumers to display and enjoy them in a variety of ways. Its scientific name, “Dianthus,” is Greek for ‘flower of love.’ 

When shipping carnations, the maturity of the flower will depend on the market procedure:

  • Star-stage buds are too immature for anything but long-term storage.
  • Paint-brush stage buds have petals that stand straight up and will open quickly. 
  • Flowers for immediate use should be harvested when the outer petals are vertical and horizontal. 

As a leader in perishable goods logistics, Prime Fresh has perfected the way we ship fresh-cut flowers and live plants, like carnations. Our cold chain management experts wanted to use this knowledge to answer frequently asked questions about shipping carnations with our readers. 


Facts About Carnations

These flowers are ethylene sensitive. Ethylene is a substance that can cause premature petal wilting or ‘sleepiness’ in the flowers. Some variations are less sensitive than the standard carnation. They are known to be pretty fragrant and have a sweet scent of cloves. They also come in a variety of colors that represent different things:

  • Pink – A mother’s underlying love
  • Light Red – Admiration and friendship
  • Crimson – Deep love and affection
  • White – Pure love, faithfulness, and innocence 
  • Yellow – Rejection and disappointment
  • Purple – Capriciousness

Before carnations are shipped, they need to be pretreated with 1-MCP (1-Methylcyclopropene) or STS. After a week at room temperature, these solutions can lose their effectiveness, but when the flowers are stored at lower temperatures, they will retain their purpose. 


What Are the Required Storage Conditions When Shipping Carnations?

After pretreatments and the proper precautions are taken, the harvested buds will need to be stored between 0 and 1 degrees Celsius. Before transportation, all flowers and buds should be checked for any signs of disease or pests to avoid the risk of disease or pests to the rest of the bundles. When shipping carnations, they should be packed in a standard horizontal fireboard box lined with polyethylene and newspaper. If the carnations are open, they can last two to four weeks in this state. However, if they are bud-cut flowers, they can be stored for up to four to five weeks. 


How to Take Care of Carnations

Once the flowers have made it through the cold supply chain and arrive at their final destination, there are a few standard carnation care tips that the receivers should know:

  1. Once they arrive, keep the flowers wrapped and place them in water so they can get hydrated while the vase is being prepped. 
  2. Fill a vase with room temperature water or if a floral foam is being used, make sure it has had time to soak to full saturation and sink to the bottom of the vase.
  3. Add a packet of flower food to help extend bloom life. 
  4. Cut the stems at a slant at the desired length. Be sure to cut just above the nodes on the stem. Cutting the stems helps reopen them and take in freshwater, extending their vase life.
  5. Remove any leaves from the stems that could be submerged in the water. This will help to prevent any rot that they might develop.
  6. Arrange them to your liking, varying in height and position until it looks right. 
  7. Keep an eye on the water. Once it becomes cloudy, rinse the vase and rinse off the stems before placing them into new water. 
  8. You can also recut the stems to ensure the flower takes in the new water. 

Overall, the more you keep an eye on the carnation flowers and give them the little bit of attention needed, the more they will have a beautiful bloom and vase life.


Need help shipping carnations internationally? 

Our flower logistics company can help you transport live plants and flowers easily. Contact us today to learn more about our cold storage optimization, international logistics, and competitive pricing.

Not in the fresh-cut flower industry? Prime Fresh Handling offers freight forwarding solutions for seafood, pharmaceuticals, meat and poultry, and other specialty foods.


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