Wedding planners and florists say there's a massive flower shortage as weddings boom: "We've never had demand like this"
- Florists say demand for
flowersis skyrocketing while they become harder to source.
- A lack of workers earlier in the pandemic led to shortages of plants to harvest now.
Climate changeis also impacting growing seasons around the world.
"It's not just that there's a shortage in product, it's that everybody has events at the same time," Kelly Shore, owner of Petals by the Shore floral
Teresa Eoff, the owner of Figure Eight Events in Fontana, California, is seeing the same thing.
"Everyone's fighting over flowers right now," she said.
An explosion in weddings is happening across the US. The Wedding Report is forecasting 1.93 million US
"The wedding boom is absolutely real," Daulton Van Kuren, owner of The Refined Host event planning in Georgia, told Insider. As soon as events were allowed again, "my phone line and email inbox went nuts," he said.
Demand is so great that buyers can't ask for specific flowers or even colors, just a general color palette, said Val Foote, a
White flowers, in particular, are nearly impossible to get.
"You used to be able to find a white rose no matter what," Marisa Guerrero, vice president of Debbie's Bloomers in El Paso, Texas, said. "Now they're in super high demand because everybody decided to get married."
Fewer plantings disrupted supply
When COVID-19 first hit the US in spring 2020, the floral industry was hit hard.
As a result, flower farms destroyed hundreds of tons of flowers, according to Jackie Trejo, the owner of Jackie Trejo Floral Design in Houston, Texas.
Some flower farms laid off workers and others closed down altogether. In December 2020, US floral industry employment was at 5.64 million, its lowest level in seven years according to the National Association of Wholesale Distributors, down 247,717 jobs from the same period in 2019.
As a result, fewer flowers were planted and properly harvested for upcoming seasons, some florists and flower farmers said.
"We have four times the demand for flowers, but half the stock," Foote said. "It's a disaster."
When demand started to pick up again, some flower farms had trouble finding workers. Shore said some commercial farms she visited recently didn't have enough workers to bundle flowers and load them into trucks for storage in coolers. The harvested flowers were left to die in the heat, she said.
"We had issues finding workers this year," Gretel Adams, owner of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus, Ohio told Insider. When she couldn't find enough local workers, she hired temporary workers through a visa program with Mexico, she said.
Poor weather has hurt supply, florists say
"The weather has been terrible, with horrible growing conditions," for flower farms in South America, where most US flowers are sourced from, Foote said. Colder nights and heavier annual rainfall impacts the health of the plants and when they're ready to harvest, according to Florists Supply.
US farms are also facing weather-related problems. California, which is responsible for three-quarters of US cut flower sales, has contended with historic droughts, unpredictable rain patterns, and fires.
"We had wildfire come right up to the border of the farm. We were working in smoke for approximately four weeks," Dru Rivers of Fully Belly Farm in Guinda, California told Slow Flowers Society. Rivers says her farm has also shifted to focus on sunflowers, zinnias, and other flowers that can thrive in hot weather.
For Adams in Ohio, she's feeling the impacts of warm weather coming earlier in the spring recently.
"In May it gets really hot and everything starts to sprout," but then there's a late frost or freeze that kills the budding flowers. "We've lost our peonies the last two years," she said.
"Local farms [in New York] had a terrible spring and planted a month late," Foote said. Dahlias and roses, popular wedding flowers, are both growing behind their normal schedule, with some traditional summer blooms not ready until fall- an issue she attributed to changing weather. US flower farms are already spread thin as people increasingly rely on them with imported flowers failing to arrive, Foote said.
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