News – Understanding Bloom Stages

Mar 09, 2015 – Farm News – by Kevin Nelson


With such a diverse customer base and equally diverse preferences and expectations, listing the bloom stages of the plants being offered is not an insignificant detail, and can help each customer make an informed decision about their weekly order.

While the staging of Garden Mums utilizes slightly different criteria, most all other blooming plants offered by Cavicchio are categorized into the same 5 stages:

  • Stage 0:  Unless otherwise noted as “small”, Stage 0 plants are full, mature plants with no visible flower buds.
  • Stage 1:  These are plants with visible flower buds, but no open color. Depending upon which genera or species being discussed, Stage 1 could mean days or weeks until open color, so it is important to familiarize yourself with how vigorously certain plants mature from one stage to the next. Certain annuals at Stage 1 may reach Stage 2 within just a few days (eg- Celosia), whereas some perennials may take several days from the time that healthy buds are distinctly visible and when they will have open color (eg- Echinacea) 
  • Stage 2: These are plants that are now showing between 5% and 25% open color. To clarify, this is an estimate of the percentage of open flowers among all flowers the plant will produce at one time. For plants that generally have fewer flowers, just a small number of open flowers may be described as “Stage 2”.  When scanning the fields each week, we make all efforts to forecast what the projected stage will be at the time of delivery, based on weather, bud size, and the flowering tendencies of each particular plant. Please read on to: ‘Multiple Stages’ for more information.
  • Stage 3: These are plants with an estimated 25%-50% open color. Generally, these plants are showing the proper amount of color for an upcoming event or sale where there is a desire for instant color, and an expectation of continued blooming in the days ahead.
  • Stage 4: This is the most advanced bloom stage we offer. Typically, a Stage 4 plant will have 50%-75% open color, but may occasionally be approaching full bloom. This stage should be reserved for immediate impact and heavy color presentation, whether for an event or sale, with an understanding that the plant is nearing full bloom. Stage 4 is not the stage to purchase when there is an expectation of prolonged shelf life, or the event or sale is several days away. Work with a member of our Cavicchio staff to determine the most appropriate stage for your situation.

Multiple Stages:  It is not uncommon to see multiple stages listed for a particular item on our weekly availability list. This can be the case for a few reasons. First, flowering stages in a particular lot may be sporadic. A large portion of the crop is starting to show color, while a fair amount are only budded. We would scan this as a “Stage 1/ Stage 2”. Unless otherwise requested, we make all efforts to pick the most advanced plants within the lot to fill each order, while supplies last.  Secondly, there may be multiple plantings (lots) of a particular item that are all mature enough for sale. The oldest lot may be at Stage 2, while younger lots are at Stage 1 and Stage 0 respectively. Unless otherwise requested, we make all efforts to pick the most advanced lots first to fill each order, picking from the younger lots only after the most advanced lots are sold out. Finally, we may give a stage range to adequately cover all possible stages of a particular lot based on expected weather and the time between scanning and the publishing of the weekly availability list. A lot may be only budded at time of scanning, but knowing that we are anticipating some warm temperatures over the next couple of days, the availability list may not be utilized for a few days, and a particular variety is quick to bloom, we may opt to record the stage at “Stage 1/ Stage 2” in anticipation of some open color being available at the time of shipping.   

Currently, each availability list (annuals and perennials) has a Key in the upper left corner of each page, describing each of the five stages.  Please use this key as a tool to help you make an informed decision about the items you are ordering.  If no stage is noted, be sure to ask a member of our sales team about the estimated stage for that item.

-Kevin M Nelson, Sales Support