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As demand blooms, it’s slim pickings for the US flower industry

On most weekday mornings, the Los Angeles Flower District is a feast for the senses — a six-block showcase, brimming with flowers and plants from hundreds of vendors.

It's the largest wholesale flower market in America, and it typically is the place where florists and flower lovers can find just about any flower they want.

But lately, the pickings have been slim. Many industries are facing widespread shortages, and the flower market is no exception. The shortage has put a strain on vendors like Wholesale Flowers, Incorporated.

Some flowers are almost impossible to get a hold of, says worker Pedro Peiros. “It's been hard with some items. Supposedly they're in season, but it's hard to get it,” he says. Flowers that aren’t in season are sometimes triple the price, he notes.

The demand for flowers was growing substantially before the pandemic. Kate Penn, CEO of the Society of American Florists, says that demand never really tapered off. “People who already were buying some flowers are now buying more. And on top of that, you also have that whole working-at-home situation,” she says. People working remotely are sprucing up their home decor with flowers, she explains.

And as restrictions lift across the country and some people return to meeting in person, the demand for flowers at events — especially weddings, which are happening on overdrive — has bloomed.

There’s also some issues in the supply chain, specifically from South America where a lot of the flowers come from. “That air cargo that used to be filled with flowers is now picking up consumer nonperishable consumer products because online shopping has increased so much,” she says.

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