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American-grown tulips and Oriental lilies on trend for Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day 2015, the buzz is already about U.S.-grown flowers. Consumers are excited to learn where their food and flowers come from; they want to know the farmer who grew their veggies, the vintner who made their wine and the flower farmer who grew the romantic blooms that will be the centerpiece of their Valentine’s Day ritual.

People are looking for domestic Valentine’s Day flowers, and of course they want reds, whites and pinks. The traditional roses and carnations are being joined by tulips and lilies as the trend-centric floral world rides the wave of the farmers market and locally grown aesthetics.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are currently 8,268 farmers markets in the United States, up from 3,706 in 2004. People are demanding access to fresh, seasonal and local foods — and retailers, farmers and all sorts of individuals are responding. The same trend affecting fruits and vegetables is finally coming to flowers.

For centuries the red tulip has represented love. According to the book, The Meaning of Flowers, by Gretchen Scoble and Ann Field, in ancient Persia to give a red tulip was to declare your love. The black center of the red tulip was said to represent the lover’s heart, burned to a coal by love’s passion. This speaks of the true essence of Valentine’s Day, and year-round domestic tulip production means these blooms will be available for the big day.

As Valentine’s Day shoppers look to impress, nothing in the flower world can touch the wow factor of an Oriental lily. The bold pinks and reds of Starfighters and Stargazers balanced with the purity of a White Cup or Gizmo white Oriental is a dramatic way to capture your customers’ attention. Did you know the Stargazer was bred in the small town of Arcata, CA, about 40 years ago?

The other lily making waves for Valentine’s Day is the Roselily series. These decadent double and triple-petaled lilies are stunning. They have been bred to have a softer fragrance than a traditional Oriental, and they are also pollen-free. These lilies are still relatively new to the market, so as Valentine’s Day approaches, demand for them will be growing. These are a premium item, but Valentine’s Day is a time when consumers focus more on the bloom and less on the price.

This local flower trend goes by many names, such as slow flowers, field-to-vase and field-to-table flowers, but all these monikers reflect the consumers’ interest in knowing by whom and where their flowers were grown. It’s our job to tell them.

Bill Prescott is the marketing and communications associate for Sun Valley Floral Farms in Arcata, CA. He can be reached at