Sunday, May 17, 2009

That Well-Travelled Bloom

Not that long ago, if someone gave you a bouquet of flowers, the selection would have been limited by the season and where in the country you were located. All that has changed, thanks to improved production and faster delivery options. Just a generation ago, most flowers you received would have been from the western and southern United States or from Holland.

But consumers' taste in flowers has changed dramatically, and with it, producers have made it possible for you to have peonies for your December wedding!

California still leads as the US's top flower producer, with Florida a close second. Oregon ranks high as well, especially in calla lilies, peonies, and Hydrangea. However, foreign imports now dominate the flower market, and in some categories can account for up to 90% of US sales.

While this is a challenge for U.S. producers, it means a fantastic selection for the consumer, year round. And U.S. producers are countering this challenge by coming up with more fragrant varieties, and bolder colors.

Columbia is now the dominant producer of U.S. cut flowers, leading with roses, carnations, and Alstoemeria. Ecuador is a close second. Their exceptional climates mean that these countries can carve out niches for themselves in markets such as roses, Delphiniums, and Gypsophila (which is nearly unrecognizable from the old "baby's breath" you may remember.

Greenery too, travels a long way. There is Ruscus from Italy, and Ruscus from Israel.

Orchids from Thailand are a very big part of US flower imports, from one producer in particular.

Flowers today are more economical than they were for our parents or grandparents, and a better value as they are bred to be longer-lasting. So, next time you give a beautiful bouquet of flowers, consider the trip they have made to reach you: planted, grown, harvested, packed, shipped and delivered to your florist from around the world!

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