Every wedding presents challenges for a florist, but the questions Shannon Whelan was asking herself while getting ready for a couple’s big day last month were completely normal.
“Can I go and cut through the woods? Can I get out of town and swamp white clematis?” wondered Whelan, owner of Toronto-based Euclid Farms.
She says that her wholesale rep had already told her about the greenery grown in British Columbia that she typically uses for wreaths and that other creations would be “very, very limited due to wildfires”. She was
Meanwhile, the available stock of flowers imported from all over the world and popular at weddings, especially white roses, are nowhere close to meeting the demand.
“We are in a global flower shortage,” Whelan says.
In the spring of 2020, when the pandemic first gripped the world, growers around the world were forced to destroy hundreds of millions of flowers as consumers went into lockdown. In the Netherlands, growers destroyed an estimated 400 million flowers. Since then, growers from the Netherlands to Colombia, who typically plan their crops a year in advance and plant six months before they are ready for sale, have been able to keep track of how many flowers they are planting and bringing to market. Be more cautious about Now that restrictions are lifted and weddings and other events are taking place, florists are scrambling to meet the demand.
“In terms of imported flowers, there’s a big, big drawback,” says Jamie Reeves, owner of Leaf & Bloom, a floral design company in Toronto. “We place orders with our suppliers with our sales reps and they’re basically like, fingers crossed, you’ll get it. And then a week before you pick up the flowers, you’ll get an e-mail saying, Which would have written, No, none of them were shipped.”
Roses, hydrangeas, orchids and tropical flowers — the most popular flowers for weddings — are nearly impossible to find, says Reeves.
Producers producing less this year are a factor. But the shortage is exacerbated by wildfires in western Canada, where many varieties of the flower are usually grown before being shipped to the rest of the country. The floods in Belgium and other climate events around the world haven’t helped either.
One bright spot of the shortage is that it has driven up demand for locally grown flowers, Reeves says. But the local market is also grappling with supply uncertainty and the pandemic. In this case, the organizers of the Toronto Flower Market, which was due to take place over the Thanksgiving weekend, decided to cancel the event due to the last-minute planning required as a result of the pandemic.
As far as imported flowers are concerned, prices of most types of flowers have seen an increase of at least double as compared to before the pandemic. Prices for some varieties of roses, especially quicksand, toffee and cappuccino, which are currently most sought after at weddings, have soared to $52 per stem, compared to $5 per stem before the pandemic, says Blush & Bloom says Becky DeLivera, a flower studio in Toronto.
The uncertainty of the flower market means that the florist can’t make promises to customers, no matter how much they want white roses for their big day. “I don’t guarantee anything when I talk to my clients,” says Reeves. “I just tell them they have to be flexible.”
Whelan ordered seven different types of roses to be imported from Ecuador and Colombia for the first marriage, which he rented after learning of the shortage. “There were zero a week before the wedding. None of them came,” she says. This left her scrambling for replacements that would at least match the couple’s desired color palette.
“I’m lucky enough to have worked with so many chill brides, but they’re still special about what they want. If they want a white and red wedding you can’t show up with yellow and hot pink, “She says.
DeOliveira expects prices to be at least 10 percent higher next year as a result of the reduction.
Even as the pandemic eventually subsides, climate change will continue to affect floriculture, prompting Whelan to make even more dire predictions. “We’re probably looking at our new normal,” she says.