The quality of flower bulbs and herbaceous perennials in consumer packages declines rapidly due to sprouting and drying out. The present study was undertaken to develop Modified Atmosphere Packages (MAP) with suitable filling materials for a prolonged shelf life of different species of flower bulbs (e.g., Lilium, Anemone, Erythronium) and herbaceous perennials (e.g., Hemerocallis, Hosta, Phlox). As filling materials peat moss and Toresa (wood fiber) were tested. So-called continuous MA films were used, i.e., without laser holes, which means that they are virtually impermeable to water. The shelf life of plants and bulbs was tested in packages produced from these films after addition of filling materials with different moisture contents. The shelf life was determined in a climate chamber at 23°C with a high ventilation rate. The same products were packed in traditional packages with microperforation for comparison. The shelf life of bulbs and perennials was extended dramatically from 3 to 4 weeks in the traditional package with microperforation to 2 to 3 months by the use of MA packaging. It was however not the low oxygen level inside the packages that caused this effect but the reduction of water loss by using MA films. In microperforation packages the products dried out completely in 3 to 4 weeks, whereas in the MA packages the products remained turgescent and vital for 2 to 3 months. Sprouting was inhibited by using dry filling materials. The term Modified Humidity Packaging therefore seems to be more appropriate for this type of packaging. To prevent too low oxygen levels inside MA packages it is recommended to use an MA film with a high permeability for oxygen. This also enables the use of one film for a wide range of products.
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