Posts tagged flowers

Dingee guide to rose culture. West Grove, Pa.: The Dingee & Conard Co.,[1916]” by Biodiversity Heritage Library is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so I recommend planning ahead and ordering that big, beautiful bouquet of a dozen red roses from your local florist soon to ensure it’s delivered to your special someone on time and at a reasonable price. But have you ever wondered where all of those luxurious cut flowers come from?  Over the past few months, I investigated this question to satiate my curiosity, collecting a few key articles that directed me to the answer.

We begin in the mid-1970s, a time when Americans produced almost all cut flowers sold in this country. By the 1990s, California farms still controlled 64% of U.S. market share of cut flowers sales.  But now according to the California Cut Flower Commission, only 30% of all floral goods sold in the United States are currently grown in California. According to Jim Daly, a keynote Texas A & M Floriculture speaker, “In 1990, California supplied 95% of the cut flowers in the United States, but today it is less than 2%.”

California’s flower producers were eventually overtaken by fierce competition from South American growers – specifically Columbia, the current market leader, with annual exports topping over a billion dollars of roses exported into the United States alone.  In 2015, Columbia celebrated its 50th anniversary shipping millions of flowers to the United States.

2015 Columbia – Primary Cut Flower Export in Millions of Dollars
$365,000,000 Roses
$156,000,000 Carnations
$147,000,000 Chrysanthemums

How did the marketplace shift so radically and quickly?  A few shifting factors:

  1. Individual retailer vs. the “chain store”.
  2. Faster, more reliable refrigerated transportation by air or ground, the details wrapped up in politics.
  3. Increased availability and persuasive marketing online.


Photo: Calvin Abe

Photo: Calvin Abe

My father owned a retail nursery when I was a child and I remember his fondness for growing flowers and plants. He would often sell flowers arrangement that he would make in the store. I remember people always loved and admired them. Though I can’t say that I got into the landscape design area because of my father, I do know that I learned to appreciate the beauty and ephemeral qualities of nature being surrounded by its presence at an early age.

Photo: Calvin Abe

Photo: Calvin Abe