The worldwide flower trade has been especially hard-hit by the consequences of coronavirus lockdowns. Attention has focused on the Dutch tulip industry, which has experienced a shocking contraction. A lack of demand and capacity to distribute has forced growers in the Netherlands to destroy some 400 million flowers over the past month. The small Western European nation produces 77% of all tulips in the world.
However, like most businesses in the world, flower farmers and retailers have devised innovative ways to deal with the current circumstances. While they won’t be able to undo the vast economic damage, these businesses are preserving at least some revenue flow and, in the process, spreading joy.
The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn has been forced to cancel its popular tulip festival, leaving it with 40 acres of unsold and unappreciated multi-colored bulbs. Inspired by a similar initiative at Gritt’s Midway Greenhouse in West Virginia, Wooden Shoe decided to deliver thousands of tulip pots and bouquets to senior citizens in assisted living facilities. Via this program (which ends today), flower enthusiasts can sponsor a senior delivery for as little as $8.
The world-famous Keukenhof flower garden cannot host its annual flower exhibit this year. Between March and May, 800 varieties of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, orchids and other flowers bloom in the garden. The event attracted 1.5 million people from 100 countries last year. This year, employees of “the most beautiful garden in the world” have produced a series of video tours featuring the site’s 7 million flowers and the gardeners who tend to them.
In the state of Karnataka in southern India, scientists are teaming with flower farmers to preserve and monetize produce that seemed destined for the landfill. If farmers dry and store their harvested flowers, they can then extract perfumes and dyes to make colorful paper. One startup called Help Us Green is collecting flowers to make incense sticks.
A large flower nursery with operations in Newcastle, Utah and Oxnard, California has been gifting flowers to nursing homes, veteran’s homes, assisted living centers, hospitals, schools, and businesses. And it has even been leaving bouquets on random residential doorsteps. Milagro Nursery has partnered with UPS to distributed tens of thousands of flowers to date. Each delivery comes with a message about spreading kindness and #growingtogether.
Where to purchase flowers during the pandemic
Timeout has compiled a list of New York City florists who are currently delivering fresh flowers throughout the city. This includes PopUp Florist, which will donate some of the proceeds to Foodbank NY. Urbanstems is giving away bouquets of flowers to people who have gone beyond the call of duty during these hard times. To nominate someone for the now-nationwide “Stay Connected With Stems” program, go here.
And it’s never too early to start flower shopping for Mother’s Day. The popular tech website CNet has compiled a list of their favorite nationwide flower delivery services. It includes Bouqs, which is currently offering a two-for-one deal.