WHAT IS FLORICULTURE?
Floriculture is the growing of cut flowers, potted flowering and
foliage plants, and bedding plants in greenhouses and/or in fields.
There are several thousand different species of flowers and plants
that are grown as commercial crops. Cut flowers include such crops
as roses, freesia, alstromeria and snapdragons. Some of the
favourite flowering potted plants that are available year-round are
African violets, orchids, cyclamen and potmums (potted
Chrysanthemums). Some seasonal flowering plants are an important
part of our traditions, for example, poinsettias for Christmas and
Easter lilies for Easter. Tropical plants are generally available
year-round and include such genera as dieffenbachia, ficus and
philodendron. Bedding plants include geraniums, impatiens, lobelias,
marigolds and pansies. Freshness and diversity are hallmarks of BC
WHERE ARE FLORICULTURE PRODUCTS PRODUCED IN BC?
are located throughout the Province, but production is concentrated
in the lower Fraser Valley region in the south-western portion of
the Province. Approximately 90% of the floriculture operations are
located within two hours drive of Vancouver. Other important
production areas are Vancouver island and some of the southern
HOW MUCH DO WE PRODUCE?
There are about 350 to 400 growers in the province and most are
family operated. In 1995, there were about 93 hectares in greenhouse
crops and 100 hectares in field-grown crops. Greenhouses range in
size from several hundred square metres to over 100,000 square
metres. The average size is 8,000 to 10,000 square metres.
Statistics Canada estimates that in 1995, farm-gate sales were $151 million.
HOW ARE FLORICULTURE PRODUCTS PRODUCED?
Growers who produce crops year-round rely on greenhouses to
protect their crops from our northern environment. Production is
based on a high degree of technology and capital investment. The
average sized greenhouse is close to a hectare in size and could
cost up to $200 per square metre to build or about $2 million in
capital expenditure. Central to greenhouses of this size is systems
optimizations which includes such features as computer systems to
monitor and regulate the growing environment to ensure high quality
product, rolling tables to increase useable production area,
supplemental lighting to offset our low winter light levels and
mechanization to reduce labour costs. Re-using irrigation water is
becoming a common practice in many greenhouses. Even with
state-of-the-art production systems, new operations can be obsolete
within five years.
also involves a considerable amount of production that is not
greenhouse based, such as field-grown specialty cut flowers. It
includes such products as daffodils, tulips, gladiolus, snapdragons,
asters and holly. Most of the production occurs during the
frost-free months of the year. Without greenhouses to protect them,
field-grown cut flowers are at the mercy of the weather. A late
spring or summer delays planting, while a hot summer increases
production levels that in turn, causes prices to fall. Growers
manipulate or extend the natural growing season by staggered
plantings, using temporary cover structures, and other cultural
strategies. Some of the more innovative growers chill plant crowns
in coolers to extend the "normal" flowering season.
WHAT DO FLORICULTURE PRODUCTS LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE THEM?
Flowers play an essential role in people's celebrations and every
day lives. Weddings, graduations, funerals, Mother's Day, St.
Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas are all peak periods of demand
for flowers and plants. Cut flowers are combined into elaborate
arrangements and bouquets, or several stems are packaged together
for impulse cash-and-carry purchases. Flowering and foliage plants
are combined together in baskets or planters, or sold individually
with pot covers and sleeves to accent their beauty.
flowers, potted plants and bedding plants are available at florists,
supermarkets, corner grocery stores, mass-market outlets and garden
centers. More people are buying flowers at their supermarket as part
of their weekly grocery shopping. Another shift in marketing is the
move towards more direct farm marketing. Several growers have retail
outlets on the farm where you can buy products such as longstem
roses, potted orchids and bedding plants.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER IT LEAVES THE FARM?
There are two main marketing options available to BC growers. The
first is the more traditional North American method of selling
product direct to outlets such as wholesalers, florists and garden
centres. The second is to sell the product through the United Flower
Growers (UFG). The UFG handles approximately thirty or forty percent
of the farm gate sales. It is a unique method of selling
floriculture products. Sales are done via two reverse style Dutch
clocks. Prices start above the expected selling price and fall until
the first buyer stops the swing of the clock arm and buys the
product. It is a fast, efficient selling method, with over fifteen
hundred sales transactions per hour. Prices vary daily depending
upon supply and demand, so selling the product becomes a daily
gamble. The Burnaby based auction continues to be the biggest floral
auction in North America. The UFG has benefited both BC growers and
their customers. It has allowed growers to specialize, leading to
improved quality and decreased costs of production. For the
customers, it provides one-stop shopping that features a diverse
range of fresh product.
product is sold to consumers within the Lower Mainland area of the
Province. Approximately 25% is exported out of the Province to other
areas across North America. Other Pacific rim countries represent an
important growth area for export sales. High quality and consistent
standards are important components in market penetration and export
WHAT CHALLENGES DO FLORICULTURE PRODUCERS FACE?
Growers face many challenges including:
Declining margins - While prices have
remained steady over the past several years, most input costs have
risen steadily. To remain profitable, growers have had to become
more efficient in production and management.
Environment - Environmental issues are
a major concern for growers. Growers have responded by re-using
irrigation water, reducing pesticide and fertilizer use and reducing
Pest control - Concerns over pesticide
use by the public and producers alike, along with pesticide
resistance and the loss of approved pesticides, have prompted
growers to adopt alternative pest control methods. Integrated pest
management (IPM) is playing a larger role in greenhouse pest
control. Many growers are now using biological or bio-rational
control methods to supplement or replace existing pesticides.
Employment - Labour is an important
element in production. Bedding plant and cut flower growers face
labour costs of up to one third of gross sales. Although increased
mechanization is a necessary element of global competition, the
industry continues to be a major agricultural employer.
Urban-rural conflicts - Urban-rural
conflicts are a fact of life for most agriculture in the Province.
some municipalities look upon floriculture as more of a factory
production industry rather than agriculture. Most municipalities
have zoning regulations concerning the maximum site coverage for
Capital costs - Modern,
state-of-the-art greenhouse operations can cost up to $200 per
square metre. This represents a barrier to entry for many potential
growers. Field-grown cut flowers and bedding plant production have
much lower capital costs, so they are often entry level crops.
Seasonal demand - The demand for fresh
floriculture products is seasonal and the product is very
perishable. Large numbers of people want to buy flowers for special
occasions or holidays like St. Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day
and Christmas. Growers must time their production to meet these
periods of high demand. Some growers have 30% of their annual sales
in a three week period in spring.
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING FLORICULTURE PRODUCTS?
- Greenhouse and field employees
- Garden centres
- Corner stores
- Mass-market outlets
- Retail clerks
Interesting Fact About Floriculture:
Some of our important floriculture crops originate as weeds in
other parts of the world. For example, gerberas (Transvaal
Daisies) in South Africa and eustoma (Prairie Gentian) in Texas.
Some countries grow dandelions commercially as a salad crop.
Floriculture is a world-wide industry: the flowers you buy today
could have been picked in South America, Europe or Israel two days
ago. To compete with imports, local growers must be able to
provide a fresh, high quality product for less money.
- Contacts and other resources:
BCMAFF - Ornamental Information
- Flowers Canada
- InfoBasket: Your Portal to Agri-Food Information on the Internet
- United Flower Growers Co-op