Flowers have the ability to deliver message like “I love you,” “get well,” “congratulations,” and more. Those occasions plus weddings, parties or other special occasions put on hold during the pandemic are back. At the same time, a flower shortage is complicating those plans.
Local flower shops and wholesalers are trying to adjust to the busy schedule of events and the demand for flowers amid the shortage, which stems from drought, unrest and after effects of the pandemic.
Many flowers that are sold in Indiana’s flower shops come from places like South America, Mexico, and California. South American countries, in particular, are known to have a climate prime for growing a variety of fresh flowers. As a result, they are exported all over the world. For example, Ecuador is known for roses. Right now, local flower shops are seeing a shortage of that flower, which is popular for many occasions.
The current shortage stems from a national strike in Ecuador demanding a decrease in the price of fuel and increases in the health and education budget as well as price controls on certain goods among other demands. The unrest has led to shortages of food and fuel and millions in losses for farmers and business leaders. The government agreed to start negotiations a few weeks ago, which ended 18 days of strikes.
Throughout the pandemic, flower growers have been challenged. First, they had and abundance of extra flowers for cancelled events, now there isn’t enough flowers to go around.
Flower wholesalers like Marvin’s Wholesale Florist in Indianapolis, have had to get creative to meet the demand, said Kevin O’Malley, who works in business development for Marvin’s. The recent events in Ecuador led the company met the demand for roses with a alternate suppliers in Columbia.
“We have a farm that will deliver 130 boxes and we would only get at least 30 in a shipment, we would be missing 100 boxes,” O’Malley said.
Audrey Lafiter, owner of Coffman’s Flower Studio in Franklin said she is “taking it one day at a time.” With no shortage of shortages, it has been tough to keep up during the pandemic, she said.
“It’s been an ongoing problem in the last couple years, with the trucker shortage, pilot shortage, and all the delays … its been really difficult to get the exact flower and exact colors of what you need,” Lafiter said.
Even flower-growing florists like JP Parker Flowers in Franklin are taxed by shortages, said Pamela (Parker) Tucker, owner and third-generation farmer. Though the majority of her orders are fulfilled from Tucker’s own garden, certain flowers like roses don’t grow well in Johnson County. To make sure she was able to get enough roses, she avoided making a mistake she made years ago.
“What you do is you don’t put all your eggs in one basket, you know when Ecuador was having its strike, there was Mexico. Everyone turned to Mexico and got roses from there,” Tucker said.
Tucker is meeting the challenge by using wholesalers and other farmers to help fulfill her client’s needs. Especially during the shortage, she feels lucky to have her own farm and employees to help her maintain the flowers, Tucker said.
The floral industry is blooming with orders and there is a balance florists need to keep to stay on track. Florists also have to keep stock of everything else needed to make a beautiful bouquet, Tucker said.
“A lot of people wouldn’t even think about the difference between buying paint and ribbon and what floral foam and containers are compared to the flowers — here’s this fresh flower and that has its own story.” Tucker said.
Through all of the challenges the floral industry has faced, that’s only proven to make florists more determined to be there for their customers, they said. After the pandemic lockdown, flower shops found other ways to make and sell flowers. They’ll get past this shortage, too.
“The floral industry is geared towards serving people and we did very well during the beginning of 2021 with doing home delivery and we did curbside and contact less delivery,” Lafiter said. “The last two years have been taking off.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.