Valentine's Day flower orders are flourishing, but florists are short on supply

After months of isolation, people want to send flowers, Niagara florists say.

After months of isolation, people want to send flowers, Niagara florists say

A rose sticks out from a prepared order of Valentine's Day flowers at the Watering Can Flower Market's Vineland location on Feb. 9, 2021. (Jordan Snobelen/Metroland)

At a time when demand for flowers is at an all-time high, but supply is at an all-time low, lovebirds may have a hard time finding flowery valentines as the window narrows on the Feb. 14 deadline.

Lisa Lautenbach, a manager at the Watering Can Flower Market, with two locations in St. Catharines and Vineland, said they're already in discussions about cutting off orders just to keep up.

And the last-minute nature of the day is further complicated by not being able to walk in somewhere and grab whatever is left on a shelf.

As Joelle Smith spun a bouquet at the Watering Can's Vineland location this past Tuesday, fashioning each flower head just so, ringing phones beckoned endlessly with new orders. Across from her at another workstation, Amanda Edwards was punching an order into a computer. To her left, a spread of stems lay waiting to be assembled.

As it happens, Valentine's most valuable player, the rose, is actually in good supply, says Lautenbach. Roses are sourced from Ecuador.

It's the locally grown flower cuts — ranunculus, gerberas, freesias, tulips, mums and orchids — that are slim pickings.

Sue Dodd prepares an order of Valentine's Day flowers at the Watering Can Flower Market's Vineland location on Feb. 9, 2021. (Jordan Snobelen/Metroland)

"They don't have anything extra to give us," she said of their supplier,  predicting the Watering Can will be sold out within the next day or two.

At flower wholesaler Virgil Greenhouses, operations manager Peter Boekestyn said the demand for local cuts has surprised him.

He points out the high cost of importing flowers to explain why florists are turning local.

Flowers for the isolated

"There's more demand this year than there has ever been," he said.

The radical demand for locally-grown flower cuts is welcome news for growers like Virgil Greenhouses, which has to fight in a competitive global market. But for competing florists, it means less to go around.

This Valentine's Day is a first for Be Fresh Flowers of St. Catharines, where Amy Marconi runs a subscription-based business model, delivering fresh cuts across the peninsula.

Marconi's Valentine's Day offerings — Quicksand and Mondel roses along with three types of eucalyptus — sold out twice.

"I see just an outpouring of people wanting to show their loved ones, who've been in isolation, love and support and a hug without being there," she said.

Orders from abroad

Orders for loved ones in Niagara have come from as far away as Hong Kong, Marconi said.

"I can't even begin to keep up with the request for flowers, which is amazing. It's been incredible."

As with many unusual trends over the past year, the passionate desire for flowers can be blamed not on Cupid's arrow, but on the limited options available to those having to celebrate the 18th-century tradition at home.

So, while roses are red, and violets are blue, time is running out, and you best be too.

This story was initially published in Niagara This Week.


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