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Canada emerging as key U.S. supplier of cut flowers and potted plants

With spring upon us, many consumers are once again exploring the wonderful world of ornamental plants and flowers as they prepare their gardens for summer and plan to lavish their moms on Mother’s Day. As consumers shop for ways to beautify their homes — both inside and out — they often find themselves asking, “Where was this product grown?” For many potted plants, bedding plants and cut flowers, the answer to that question is Canada.

Canada has emerged as a key supplier of cut flowers and ornamental plants to the United States markets. Nearly 30 percent of cut flowers and potted plants produced in Canada are exported to the United States, and Canadian flowers reach all 50 U.S. states. In fact, Canada is a major producer of cut tulips and gerberas — two Mother’s Day favorites.  

The Canadian industry has continued to grow in two production centers — one in Ontario’s Niagara region and one in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. Both regions have become hotbeds for flower production due to their climate, proximity to domestic and U.S. markets, and the presence of extensive greenhouse infrastructure and supporting companies in the regions.

It has never been easier to find Canadian-grown flowers. Flowers Canada Growers — the trade association representing Canadian flower growers — publishes an annual greenhouse grower’s directory and buyer’s guide that lists contact and product information for active flower farms across the country. This document has become a critical resource for flower buyers looking to source products from Canadian farms, and is available free from Flowers Canada Growers.

Further, a brand new web resource is now available to help flower buyers find Canadian flower growers and exporters: www.theflowerdirectory.com. This new web resource has been designed to be a one-stop-shop for flower buyers, allowing purchasers to search for any flower, in any region across Canada.

Today’s flower buyers are more conscientious about their environmental footprint and want to support brands that are considered environmentally friendly. Canadian research institutions have continued to seek out new and innovative ways to improve flower production and protect the environment.

Through both considerable research and farmer innovation, Canadian flower farms have become world leaders in biological pest management through the use of naturally occurring organisms — like insects and fungi that control or out-compete pests and diseases — allowing for the reduction or elimination of pesticide applications.

Canadian farms have also continued to explore new technologies to reduce their energy consumption by testing dehumidification systems to improve plant health while reducing energy usage, and customizing LED lighting technology for certain crops to reduce electricity consumption.

Attracting millennial buyers to ornamental plants continues to present challenges for retailers. Canadian research on buying habits has shown that potential younger buyers are not consuming flowers to the same degree as their parents — millennials want experiences more than they want products.

Canadian farms have attempted to harness this opportunity by running events targeted at promoting the flower “experience,” with flower crown bars, and large gala style dinners under the name Petals and Plates being examples of this.

Flower crown bars have been held in association with festivals and concerts to let millennials show their love of flowers by wearing them as a pronounced accessory.

Petals and Plates events have provided an opportunity for farmers to interact with consumers directly, and help the public learn about what goes into the production of beautiful floral products, while enjoying an elaborate social and attractive setting. Both event series are planned to continue into 2018.

Be sure to visit the www.theflowerdirectory.com or request your hard copy of the Canadian Greenhouse Growers’ Directory and Buyers’ Guide today by emailing flowers@fco.ca.

Andrew Morse is the executive director at Flowers Canada (Ontario) Inc. and Flowers Canada Growers Inc. in Guelph, Ontario. He can be contacted at Andrew@fco.ca.