Skip to main content

- Advertisement -

Words count: Knowing your floral terms makes you more professional

The word is out. Webster?s Dictionary announced its choice for 2004?s word of the year " "adultescent," a noun describing an adult who is still an adolescent at heart.

Ever heard of it? Me neither, but according to Webster?s editor-in-chief, "adultescent? is just one of many vocabulary clues indicating the trends and preoccupations of our society.

The editor reminds us that American English is a vigorous, evolving language. Compound words are especially popular to describe our likes and dislikes.

For instance, Webster?s word choice in 2000 was "senior moment." In 2002, we fell in love with "job spill? (describing how work spills over into personal time). In 2003, "transparency," to describe openness and full disclosure, was the word of the year.

Vocabulary and terminology have evolved significantly in the flower industry, too. In the 1970s and 1980s, flowers grown outside of greenhouses were called "field flowers." By the early 1990s, the Dutch term "summer flowers? crept in as its replacement. About that same time "bi-color? outshined "two-tone? when describing color blends and most customers finally lost their penchant for calling all Asiatic lilies, "Enchantments."

?Flower food? eclipsed the term "preservative? and "hydration? found its own right in flower processing. "Botanicals? breathed new life into the category of dried and silk flowers. The rage of coloring flowers has again resurfaced, but this time, they are marketed as "tinted? instead of dyed blooms.

Vocabulary counts in the theater of sales as well as in communicating problems to get fast results. The more specific you can make your description, the faster the problem gets fixed.

For instance, rather than describing a quality issue as "bad," be more specific: Is the problem disease (Botrytis) related? Or ethylene related? Don?t know the difference? Botrytis infection is recognized by its beige-ish, wet mark on petals, leaves or stems. Ethylene damage causes premature aging recognized by shattering petals (delphinium varieties) or bud abscission (rose buds pop off calyx). Loss of color vibrancy or bluing (roses, carnations, anemones) is another sign of ethylene damage as is transparent petals and shriveled buds (freesia, alstroemeria or Asiatic lilies).

Using correct terminology makes communication energetic and efficient, not to mention professional. Too often, we forget that our industry lingo doesn?t mean a thing to consumers. Does your mother know what poms are? Or leather and gyp? Use creative adjectives to help sell your flowers. A ruffled petal margin sounds more interesting than crinkled edges. Flowers have fragrance, not odor. And don?t let your customers struggle to define colors. Describing a rose color as brown is just not sexy. What about horticultural terms like "cut-point??

During Valentine?s sales, you will have to do a lot of explaining about the open cut-point of your roses. Remember, we spent years teaching consumers that a bullet rose is a "fresh? rose. Now we have to teach them about changes in cut-points and provide information to back it up. These facts may help:

? Rose buds gain significant size in the final four to five days of development. (American rose buyers like big heads.)

? The greater the petal count in a rose, the more open the cut-point must be to ensure continued development.

? The longer the rose stays on the bush, the more time it has to produce the high carbohydrate level needed to insure a long vase life and give the flower that wonderful "springiness? that screams freshness.

Words count. Using correct terminology, varietal names and marketing jargon make sense in this age of information-hungry consumers. Flower sales incorporate theater and perceived value. Words are an important part of this tool box. So get out there with your verbal bling bling and sell, sell, sell.

(Gay Smith draws information from her horticultural background and more than 25 years experience in the floral industry. She currently works as the technical manager for Pokon & Chrysal U.S.A. Questions for Ms. Smith can be submitted to gaysmith@earthlink.net.)

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -