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Behind the Scenes in a Flower Shop


Throughout my career as a florist, customers have been interested in what goes on “behind the scenes” in a flower shop.  They often say “it must be fun to work here”.

They are right…it is fun!  Now, many florists recognize that it’s a plus to “share the fun”.  They create shop layouts that encourage customers to catch glimpses of floral designers working with beautiful flowers as they work with other floral designers who share the same passion for floral design.

So what is going on “behind the scenes”?  Well, as you might expect, the florist business is driven by holidays and seasons, but people still have birthdays, weddings, proms, anniversaries, and parties.  Sometimes there are sad occasions too…and the list goes on.  But one obvious thing remains a constant behind the scenes.  A florist must consistently have great flowers and great service and be ready for all those occasions…preferably with flowers that are fresh and properly cared for.  Customers have high expectations for flowers from a florist.


Most retail florists get their flowers from floral wholesalers; sometimes daily, sometimes less frequently.  In smaller shops, floral designers help process and condition arriving shipments of flowers.  Larger shops may have an employee dedicated solely to processing.

It is now common practice to cut the ends of the stems under water.  This can be done fairly easily at a design desk by using a bucket filled with plain water and a clipper. Roses come in bunches of 25.  An entire bunch can often be cut without dividing the bunch, but it is also OK to divide the bunch for easier cutting. Lower foliage should be removed before cutting the roses under water.  Place the roses that have been cut into a bucket of “preservative” water. It is important to have the right proportions of preservative to water. Remove any additional foliage that might be below the water level. Not removing the foliage is an open invitation for all bacteria to have a picnic!  It is common practice behind the scenes, to drop the removed foliage on the floor.

Did you know that it is also common practice for floral designers to drop stems and foliage on the design room floor? (Don’t try this at home.) This allows the designers to work faster instead of trying to hit a trash can with the stems. Flowers such as roses and hydrangeas benefit from being re-cut under water before being placed in a vase or a container with a block of floral foam.  Although design speed is important, in my opinion, creating a beautiful flower arrangement is more important in the long run…that’s what will please customers.


I have been privileged to work in many flower shops over the years in various areas of the country. Some were small shops and some were larger multiple-shop operations.  The floral designers that I have met and worked with all loved their work and were very talented.  The availability of flower varieties has grown exponentially which makes the job more interesting to floral designers and the flower arrangements more special to customers.  It’s not unusual to see calla lilies in orange or yellow and several varieties of orchids in fabulous shapes and colors. The hours can be long and holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day often bring late nights.

But you know you are in the right place when you’re tired, it’s 2:00 a.m. and there’s still work to do, but another designer just has to show you an exciting new orchid that is the most beautiful flower she has ever seen!  And that’s what goes on “behind the scenes” in a flower shop.

by Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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