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Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality

Michael S. Reid

Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

Maturity & Quality


Freesia x cvs. Native to South Africa, the single or double flowers range in colors from yellow, orange, red, bronze, to purple. Some cultivars retain the delightful fragrances that are common in garden freesias. The genus was named for Dr. Freese (1785-1876), a native of Kiel, Germany and a student of South African plants.

Quality Indices

Stems are harvested when the first flower colors and opens. Several flowering stems may be harvested from one plant. In that case, the uppermost flower stem should be cut just above the junction of the desired lateral flowering stem. When the lateral stem reaches maturity, it too is harvested. The upper flowering stem will have more flowers per stem and better postharvest life than lateral flowering stems. One or two florets per stem should be just beginning to open at the time of harvest and hence, at the time of purchase. If harvested too tight, many florets may not open unless preservative solutions are used properly. Learn cultivar names and market those that have good postharvest characteristics.

Grading and Bunching

There are no standard grades for freesias, but they may be graded according to maturity, number of flowers per stem and the length of stem. Quality freesias have at least 7 florets per spike, and have long straight stems. Flowers are sold in bunches of 10 stems, usually of the same color.

Ethylene Sensitivity

The open florets on freesia inflorescences are not affected by exposure to ethylene, but the effects of this gas are seen in the young buds, which fail to develop.


Pre-treatment with 1-MCP or STS pulse pre-treatment is effective in preventing abortion of small buds on the inflorescence. Freesias can be pulsed for 18 hours in the dark with a preservative solution containing 25% sucrose. Pulsing should be carried out at about 20°C and 85% R.H. This treatment will increase flower size, percentage of flowers that open, and vase life.

Storage Conditions

Freesia should be stored at 0-1°C.


May 2000

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The information in this fact sheet represents our best understanding of the current state of knowledge at the time of the latest update, and does not represent an exhaustive review of all research results. Links to any of these UC Postharvest Technology Center pages are permitted, but no endorsement of the linking site or products mentioned in the linking page is intended or implied by such a link.

How to Cite

Author(s) names. Initial publication or update date (located at the top). Title. Link to the specific Produce Fact Sheet webpage (Accessed date)

Example: Cantwell, M. and T. Suslow. 2002. Lettuce, Crisphead: Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality. (Accessed January 18, 2014).

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