US (TX): Floral industry struggling because of pandemic

Lana King, a florist in Cypress, Texas, is not optimistic about the 2021 floral season. “We’re in survival mode after a devastating year in 2020 and hoping to make it through this year,” she said. "Until the economy rebounds and customers return, it’s going to be touch and go for many in the floral industry."

Mother’s Day has been a boost for the Cypress florist, but she’ll struggle to make it through to the next big holiday and growers pick up the pace with more flowers in the ground. “It’s not just roses, it’s everything. Plants, flowers, it’s hard to get certain glassware, and even baskets can be hard to find,” she said.

“I know wholesalers are affected and it hurts all our reputations. It’s a trickle-down kind of effect from the growers to transportation, to wholesalers, to floral shops, and lastly the consumer,” she said. King and her husband Samuel had etched out a nice business in the Cypress area until COVID hit. Now they depend on the kindness of their community to support them through the rough times.

It’s a story replicated across the state, says Dianna Nordman, AAF, executive director for the Texas State Floral Association. “There has been difficulty in getting certain products and we’ve asked in many instances that the consumer understand that the product they wanted, maybe a red flower that isn’t available, that we substitute it for another red flower that is available,” she said.

The weather and COVID have affected all flowers and growing patterns around the world, she said. Wholesalers are still struggling to get plants from overseas as other nations deal with the pandemic. “I can’t give you a date (when it will pick up) because I don’t think any of us really know,” she said.

One grower finally threw in the towel and called it quits after 51 years in the industry. Darby Greenhouses and Farms, Inc. in Jacksonville, Texas had been led by Don Darby and following their tremendous loss last Easter, the 68-year-old made the tough decision to sell his grower business and retire. Last year, his wife said with all the cancellations of Easter services, the crop of Easter lilies he had planted in the field in October of 2019 was mostly lost, which cost him more than $135,000. 

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