A bouquet of flowers takes a long journey before arriving at local florists in time for Mother’s Day.
Growers nurture their spring crops for 52 weeks a year until it is ready to be cut and shipped to vendors. Drivers then transport the finished product to flower shops who demand an increased shipment a week ahead of the holiday.
Finally, customers sift through colorful blossoms as they search for the perfect flower to give their mother.
However, with flower shops closed and growers working under social distancing guidelines, this year’s journey took a toll on farmers.
With most face-to-face events on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the $100 million floral industry suffered from social distancing, and members of the industry said they are hopeful that Mother’s Day is enough to avoid bankruptcy.
David Register is the Executive Vice President of FernTrust Inc., a cooperative of growers based in Seville, Florida, who harvest, package and market flowers and other greenery to be sold across the globe.
Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are the holidays with the most flower purchases for the beginning of each year, he said.
Between those holidays, events like weddings and funerals keep the industry afloat until Christmas time. But with large gatherings postponed indefinitely, Register said this year’s Mother’s Day was crucial to their business’ survival.
“When everything really started shutting down, we went from doing pretty well to about 80 to 90 percent of our business just dropping away,” Register said.
UF commercial horticulture extension agent Karen Stauderman works alongside commercial growers like Register to provide educational outreach, grants and help with labor issues.
When COVID-19 safety measures were first implemented, Stauderman said, she was prepared to help growers who could no longer deliver to florists whose businesses were deemed nonessential and closed.
“Initially it was very difficult because [growers] were hurting on sales,” Stauderman said. “So the growers came up with a way to deliver it themselves, and that's how they ended up with the product.”
Growers are now using protective equipment in the field and working with florists to deliver the product directly to clients, Stauderman said.
Register said that with most stay-at-home restrictions still in place, growers prepared for an increased demand for flowers for the holiday.
“A lot of times, you take your mom out to eat or go to a restaurant or something,” Register said. “That kind of stuff can’t be done really now, so I'm hoping that people will send flowers in place of themselves.”
His company worked on promoting flower sales through their Mother’s Day campaign called “Mother’s May.” Rather than celebrating mothers for one day, Register said, he hopes people take the whole month of May to appreciate their moms.
“There’s not many gifts that are as sentimental as flowers are to tell somebody that you love them and you're thinking about them,” Register said. “It's not just for people in their times of either a celebration like weddings or in times of sorrow like a funeral. Just show people that you love and care about them.”