Markets Still Strong For Cut Flowers

An increasing demand for the old-fashioned, highly perfumed roses.
April 13, 2016
Written by Brian Minter
It’s hard to find another segment of the horticultural industry that has diversified as much as cut flower growers have. The varieties of cuts now available are truly astounding and each season brings with it more new offerings ranging from forsythia, spring tree blossoms of peaches, nectarines, ornamental flowering cherries and quince, to new summer colours of dahlias, asters and celosias.
Fall introduces ever-increasing numbers of ornamental kales, multi-hued sunflowers and dried grasses and statice, while the Christmas season offers new coniferous greens, new berry stems and the amazing selection of male skimmia buds, adding a fresh look to indoor and outdoor winter arrangements and bouquets.

Without a doubt, the fastest growing area is cut mixed bouquets in the $20, $30 and $40 price range. The diversity of new vibrant colours, new varieties and amazing fillers keeps floral combinations fresh and exciting. The “same old” died a painful death many years ago and today’s fresh, invigorating new looks are even attracting millennials.

Speaking with Doug Smart, currently with Cambridge and formerly for many years with United Flower Growers in Burnaby, B.C., it was interesting to get his perspective on the current retail, box and supermarket trends. Beginning with spring flowers, tulips are seeing growth in all colours. They seem to have increasing appeal in all demographics. Their versatility, reasonable price and long availability have made them the “go-to” winter and spring flower. Daffodils, however, remain relatively static due to limited availability and a shorter season. The same is true of other spring season flowers like anemones and ranunculus. Freesias, too, have remained somewhat stable.

The demand for lilies tends to go up and down with the seasons but overall they have remained relatively stable. Their perfume is both an asset and possibly a little bit of a liability with the ever-increasing sensitivity to fragrance and allergic reactions. Asiatics continue to be a staple in mixed bouquets, and the fact they last so long and have such a wide colour range are huge pluses.

Cymbidium orchid stems too have been stable through their quite lengthy season. Their versatility in so many situations and their incredibly long lasting nature are huge bonuses. Green orchids are, by far, the most popular not only because green is the “in” colour but also because they work so well with many other colours. Smaller mini cymbidiums allow more opportunity for blending into arrangements and mixed bouquets and again, the greens are the most popular.

Among the younger female demographic, gerbera daisies have not only a strong seasonal holiday appeal but they have also become the everyday “go-to” flower. Gerbs make any bouquet special and their growing colour range allows them to shine as the star in any floral situation. The colours in demand are pinks, peaches, oranges, purples and bicolour blends. The primary colours, like red and yellow, have remained stable.

Germinis are experiencing good growth because of their smaller size, making them a little more versatile for floral design and also for satisfying the new trend of selling “by the bunch.”

Carnations are making a steady comeback, mainly in traditional colours of reds, whites and pinks. Bicolours remain reliable, and muted tones, like soft yellows, are strong. They always present as good value and their gentle perfume is an asset.

Roses are quite steady and if there is growth, it’s in the traditional reds. Whites remain strong but there is a drop off in other colours. There is an increasing demand for the old-fashioned, highly perfumed roses, like the David Austin and Renaissance varieties, particularly for wedding flowers and it seems price is no object for these huge antique gems.

Chrysanthemums have remained strong, especially in traditional colours. The growth has been in the greens, especially the variety ‘Green Lizard.’

The cut flower industry has nowhere to go but up. The tremendous diversity, along with new trends in colour and style, are helping them keep on the edge. For millennials in particular, the competitive pricing, ease of care and added value they bring are all positives to build on for the future.


Brian Minter is co-owner of Minter Country Gardens in Chilliwack, B.C.


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