Debra Prinzing

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Episode 434 Slow Flowers’ 2020 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, plus our final state focus: Wyoming

January 1st, 2020

Desert Collection, designed by Morgan Anderson, Ph.D., of The Flori.Culture (c) Macey Sierka

Happy New Year 2020! Last week’s podcast commemorated the close of 2019 with an extensive Year in Review episode. And while I couldn’t highlight and thank every single person who made last year a special one, I touched on many of the bright spots in our full year of Slow Flowers. Please go back and have a listen if you missed it.

I’m excited to share highlights from the sixth annual Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast — the 2020 edition, but before I do so, we have a special guest to welcome, Teresa Tibbets of Dandelion Floral, based in Lander, Wyoming.

All during 2019, our Fifty States of Slow Flowers series brought you a diverse range of voices and experiences from Slow Flowers members across the U.S. This ambitious series doubled the number of Slow Flowers Podcast guests we brought to you during the course of the year. Thank you to each of our state guests for their willingness to share their personal floral narrative with listeners. Together their stories amplified the thriving message that our Slow Flowers Movement is taking place everywhere and anywhere that people, gardens, soil and sunshine exist.

Click here to find the full list of our Fifty States of Slow Flowers guests, with links to the episode in which each appeared.

Teresa Tibbets with a bouquet of fall flowers (c) Kristy Cardinal Photography

Today, that series comes to a close today. Even though it’s January 1st 2020, due to a few scheduling hiccups, I couldn’t quite fit our final state – Wyoming – into 2019,  so today, please meet Teresa Tibbets of Dandelion Floral.

left: Teresa designing with her Wyoming-grown blooms (c) Kim Branagan Photography; right: this boutonniere is made with lisianthus, amaranth, and aspen (c) Teresa Tibbets

Teresa is a flower farmer and studio-based wedding and event florist who specializes in growing heirloom and ephemeral flowers. She also raises “xeric natives,” such as yarrow, coneflower and rudbeckia; and she forages locally for Aspen, juniper and sage.

left: June Peony Bouquet (c) Blushing Crow Studio; right: a Dandelion Floral bridal bouquet, photographed at Karisa Mountain Lake. The anemone and ranunculus was grown on Teresa’s farm in Lander, Wyoming (c) Apartment10

Teresa says: “My designs are inspired by nature’s form and structure, embracing the whimsical and wild. The aesthetic of the Rocky Mountains is loose and light, balancing the soft with prickly; the fine with bold. We take our cues from the deserts and the mountains. An arrangement full of lush, shiny, deep green foliage looks artificial and contrived here, in my opinion. Instead, we embrace the blue-grays of sage and juniper; the delicate texture of golden grasses and twinkling yellow-green of Aspen.”

A Dandelion Floral bouquet with lilac, tulips, and anemone, which Teresa calls “the harbingers of the beginning of the flower season.”

Find and follow Dandelion Floral at these social places:

Dandelion Floral on Facebook

Dandelion Floral on Instagram

It has been a privilege to feature this important series and I thank you for joining me. As I mentioned last week, we missed a few — namely Hawaii and Delaware — but I’ll do my best to add voices from those states in the coming months.

Next up: I’m excited to share highlights from the annual Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast.

This Forecast began six years ago and I’m more inspired than ever about the focus of this project. Since 2013, I have tracked and documented the shifts and changes in the Slow Flowers Movement, devoting considerable much time and resources during the past several years while also educating about and advocating for locally grown, seasonal and sustainable flowers. As a result, the awareness of our Movement has also increased. More farms are producing more domestic flowers; more designers are selecting domestic flowers as artistic elements of their work; and more consumers are asking for local flowers.

Traction, momentum and change can be measured incrementally, so you will notice that in this year’s 2020 Forecast some of the topics and key insights represent subtle rather than seismic shifts from past year’s themes, or at the very least, an expansion of them. 

I’ve titled the forecast Green Horizons.

To develop this report, I began by surveying Slow Flowers members and social media followers last fall, asking questions about their floral businesses, including emerging themes and topics important to them.

I drew further insights from my 2019 storytelling — first-person interviews for print and digital Slow Flowers Journal stories, interviews with more than one-hundred Slow Flowers Podcast guests, and attitudes gathered from conversations with thought-leaders in floral design, flower farming and related creative professions.

I hope you find these forward-thinking resources important and valuable. I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions about topics missed.

Download a PDF of the 2020 Forecast from Florists’ Review

Download a PDF of the 2020 Forecast from Canadian Florist

A sentence jumped out to me a few months ago as I read a Time magazine profile of Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia. It went like this: “Today’s customers want their dollars to go to companies that will use their money to make the world a better place.”

A fitting statement, given that Patagonia, which recently surpassed $1 billion in annual sales, donates 1% of its sales to environmental groups. To me, that story about Patagonia underscores a theme that resonates with that of our 2020 Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast:

“Belief-driven buyers choose a brand on the basis of its position on social issues.”

Time interview with Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia

If you think this is a fringe topic, you’re wrong. According to market consultancy Edelman, nearly 2 in 3 consumers are belief-driven buyers.

Becky Feasby of Prairie Girl Flowers (left) and Tobey Nelson of Tobey Nelson Weddings + Events (right) at the 2019 Sustainable Flowers Workshop (c) Ian Gregory, &Reverie

We may not all be environmental activists, but according to the Slow Flowers’ survey, most of you are using your brand to “do good,” viewing your company’s values and mission as precious brand assets as well as marketing tools. This sentiment was well expressed by wedding and event florist Tobey Nelson of Tobey Nelson Weddings + Events in Langley, Wash., who spoke about sustainable floristry at last year’s Slow Flowers Summit, defining it in part as “making ‘better than’ choices to improve our environmental and social impact.” Similar sentiments come from wedding and event florist Becky Feasby of Prairie Girl Flowers in Calgary, Alberta, whose recent Sustainable Flowers Workshop highlighted a greener approach to floristry, including local flower sourcing and chemical-free design mechanics.

So let’s jump right in and review the Top 10 Slow Flowers Floral Insights for 2020:

Jessica Broyles of Starry Fields Farm in Rockfield, Ky. (c) Emily Rose Photo

#1 Agriculture-Driven Design

Diversity of choice is a top concern for designers who want to expand their product knowledge and access to the best seasonally-available botanicals. Whether they have growing or gardening experience or simply have a heightened desire to seek more unique choices in the marketplace, savvy florists are lining up more farm-direct options and rewarding wholesalers who are motivated to source from domestic growers on their behalf.

Two pieces inspired by the seasonal bounty of local flower farms, designed by Ashley Fox of Ashley Fox Designs. left image (c) Ashley Fox; right image (c) Marit Williams Photography

Minnesota-based Ashley Fox of Ashley Fox Designs notes that a shift takes place when floral artists  become closer observers of nature, inspired by what might once have been considered nontraditional botanical elements. “My new emphasis is ‘never say never,'” she says. “In that there could be something really common or very mundane that sparks a more complex design when you place it next to another bloom.”

To that end, she finds herself open to floral varieties she’s past shied away from, especially choices grown by favorite local greenhouses and farms: calla lilies, Asiatic and Oriental lilies, double-petal gerbera daisies, for example.”The value I offer my clients is in how I use those flowers, on how I keep my eyes open to a shade within a petal or its form.”

A designer’s floral palette in one of Sarah Nixon’s Toronto cutting garden for My Luscious Backyard

Toronto-based Sarah Nixon, owner of My Luscious Backyard, notes that as a designer and a grower, she needs to plan for a full season of botanical components for her weddings and arrangements. “I pay attention to foliages and smaller, textural flowers, seed pods, grasses and other elements that are integral to my design work,” she explains. This includes growing varieties to create “a range of satisfying color palettes as I stay connected to trends in color and to flower varieties that may be getting good PR.”

The next chapter in this shift is being authored by designers who weave the agricultural narrative through their aesthetic and branding. From creative collaborations between flower farmers and floral designers to new apps and online resources that help florists learn who is growing what and when that’s available, the direct connections between the field and the studio are more important than ever.

Ontario-grown flowers for Toronto florists, from The Local Flower Collective (c) photo by Danijela Weddings

Says Jaimie Reeves, of Leaf & Bloom and The Local Flower Collective, both also based in Toronto, “A farmer-florist has the unique perspective of having both the eye for design and knowledge of the plant material. And for those of us who don’t wear both hats, the relationships between the farmer and designers allows for a more open discussion on how we can continue to learn and grow new product.”

Cultivated by Christin’s cutting garden on B.C.’s Vancouver Island — a source of design inspiration

Floral designer and author Christin Geall of Cultivated, based in Victoria, B.C. , echoes these sentiments: “Having a cutting garden to work from changed my business. Not only did it make my work more sustainable — using zero mile flowers — it also offered more diverse materials to work with, which in turn sparked innovation and fed me creatively.”

#2 Design-Driven Flower Farming

PepperHarrow Farm’s Adam O’Neal plans and selects seed varieties with an eye to wedding palettes for sister business Lark & Harrow Design

The corollary to insight #1 is this: Enlightened flower farmers, aka “agripreneurs” are bringing a designer’s eye to floral crop selection and planning. “I know what colors I grow in spring, what I’m choosing for summertime and what I’m planting for fall,” says Adam O’Neal of PepperHarrow Farm in Winterset, Iowa. “I choose seed and grow color for the entire season.”

The majority of those responding to the Slow Flowers 2020 Member Survey self-identify as “farmer florists” (44%) followed by “flower farmer” (43%) and “floral designer” (36%). Clearly, more florists are open to growing for themselves and more flower farmers are embracing design. The interdependency is increasingly evident for professionals in both worlds, with many floral ventures placing equal weight on both cutting garden (or more) and design studio.

Danielle Schami of Franktown House Flowers (c) Amy Zambonin Photography /

Danielle Schami of Les fleurs Franktown House Flowers in Wakefield, Quebec, says that after a few years as a “farmer-florist” who grew cut flowers on less than an acre to supply wedding arrangement services, she’s refocusing on “Design-Driven Flower Farming.” “This past year, I teamed up with two local floral designers to supply wedding flowers,” she explains. “I am seeing a change in our floral landscape to better suit the needs of designers — who desire more specialty tulip varieties, lisianthus and Chocolate laceflower, for example.”

Dandelion Floral’s CSA bouquets

“More flower farmers breaking into floral design and offering more retail options to customers. Designers are recognizing the quality, charm and uniqueness of local flowers, and customers are asking for more eco-friendly options,” observes Teresa Tibbets, of Dandelion Floral, in Lander, Wyo., who you heard earlier in our Fifty States of Slow Flowers segment today.

The rise of design-driven flower farmers moves flowers from the commodity level to the couture level — and that elevates all of floristry.

A delicate wedding palette, grown and designed by Jessica Broyles of Starry Fields Farm (c) Emily Rose Photo

Jessica Broyles, a farmer-florist who owns Starry Fields Farm in Rockfield, Kentucky, has set a goal to make local flowers accessible to florists. “I want to educate them on how to incorporate local flowers into their designs and promote local flowers as ‘something extra’ that will help set their work apart.”

#3 On-Farm Shopping

The farm stand at Dahlia May Flower Farm has continued to succeed with a recent expansion (c) BKH Photo

I’ve covered innovative farm-to-consumer retail concepts in prior Forecasts, including themes such as “More Farms Selling Direct” (2017) and “Farms Launch Direct-Ship Wholesale” and “Farms Shift into Retail” (2018).

Seasonal retail at Red Twig Farms (c) Bob Stefko Photography

Now upscaled, on-farm retail has taken the traditional honor-system flower cart and re-imagined it as a full-service retail destination. Dahlia May Flower Farm (Trenton, Ontario) and Red Twig Farms (New Albany, Ohio) are examples of floral agriculture ventures with robust on-farm mercantile outlets offering freshly-picked flowers, gathered bouquets and potted plants for eager DIY customers.

Kate Read of Grey Tabby Flower Farm in Lake Mary, Fla.

It’s all about sharing an authentic flower farm with nature-craved customers. “Most of the inquiries I get these days include ‘may we come and see the flowers?’ says farmer-florist Kate Read of Grey Tabby Flower Farm in Lake Mary, Fla. “I think that people are craving some kind of connection with seeing flowers growing.” Consumer desire to experience and connect with the source of their flowers is certainly driving expansion of on-farm retail. Equally appealing are flower farmer partnerships with non-floral focused retailers like apparel, coffee shops and bakeries.

“Hive-to-Table” melds organic honey with organic flowers at Les Fleurs Franktown House Flower Farm in Quebec

“Forging such partnerships has been a part of our business model from the outset,” says Quebec’s Danielle Schami. “A local boutique French pastry shop frequently features our flowers. B&Bs in our riverside village also receive a regular supply of our flowers for their breakfast service and bedside tables. Most recently, we’ve launched a partnership with beekeepers developing a new hive-to-table concept that involves visits to our farm during honey harvest. At the same time, honey-share partners are invited to visit our flower gardens and may purchase bouquets.”

#4 Organic Flower Seeds

In the 2020 survey, 24 percent of respondents cited “Sourcing Organic Flower Seed” as an emerging theme for their business. While organic vegetable seeds are widely available, seed-sellers have not always been able to source a broader selection of organic flower options for their catalogues. That’s changing in small ways, driven by demand from sustainable growers and conscious home gardeners.

Chatham Flower Farm’s late-summer harvest adorns tables during a Meet me at the Table community farm dinner.

“While we already use most organic seed sources, we will continue to diversify our crops by adding more perennials that will self-sow year after year,” explains farmer-florist Kate Meyer of Chatham Flower Farm in Painter, Va.

Blooms, grown and designed organically at Merrily Along Floral

Denisa Anderson of Merrily Along Floral in Everson, Wash., cites saving her own seeds from her organic cutting garden, as well as purchasing from sellers like Johnny’s Selected Seeds and the Floret seed line.

“I’m very interested in organic seed, but there have been so few suppliers for cut flower growers,” says Schami. “I have renewed hope as more people are growing cut flowers organically on a smaller scale, several of whom have started a sideline in seed production. Not to mention the larger seed suppliers who are catering more to organic cut flower growers’ needs.”

Organic flower seeds for 2020, introduced by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. From left: Apricot peach mix strawflower; pincushion mix; and Jim Baggett’s zinnia mix

I asked Hillary Alger, flower and herb product manager at Johnny’s about the demand for organic flower seeds. “More organic flower seed” is a common request we hear,” she says. “Slowly, we’re building a library of organic flower seed options, but as you noted it can be challenging – mostly due to the limited availability of variety and selection.” According to Hillary, for 2020, seven of the 23 new flower seeds and varieties offered by Johnny’s are organic — that’s 30 percent.

There is great potential in this category and I expect demand for organic flower seeds will stimulate more options in the marketplace in the future.

#5 Chemical-Free Sentiments

Floral artist Susan Mcleary is a design influencer who advocates for foam-free practices in her large-scale botanical installations (c) Amanda Dumouchelle

“Eco and nontoxic” floral design was the very first theme in the very first Slow Flowers Floral Insights and Industry Forecast, published in 2015. I noted that many Slow Flowers designers and farmer-florists were actively rejecting floral foam while seeking new methods, techniques, and mechanics for arranging flower stems. Three years later, in the 2018 Forecast, we revisited the topic, highlighting new “chemical-free” mechanics for floral design.

The conversation continues for 2020, with more voices and opinions. Floral foam, Yes or No? In this year’s survey, 66 percent of respondents indicated their floral practices are based on foam-free options; 25 percent said they only use foam as their design mechanic some of the time.

A foam-free arrangement designed by Erin Shackelford of Camas Designs

“We’re using less and less foam each year and loving the creativity it requires – as well as the environmental benefits,” says Erin Shackelford of Camas Designs in Friday Harbor, Wash.

Foam-free design by Becky Feasby of Prairie Girl Flowers

Concern about the use of plastic and chemically-treated products in other aspects of floristry is also being cited. “I am quite intentional in my designs of late to use wire or jute/hemp twine in lieu of plastic zip ties,” says Tobey Nelson. “In 2020, I will be working toward using up all of my synthetic ribbons, with the intention of moving toward only natural fibers.”

Calgary’s Becky Feasby raised a new and important question: “I would love to learn more about how painting and bleaching natural materials affects their ability to be composted,” a comment that highlights a future topic to explore.

Christin Geall of Cultivated by Christin, designing with a no-foam method

Christin Geall, of British Columbia, Canada, echoes these sentiments, saying, “the rise in bleached and plasticized product over the past few years has led me to innovate to find naturally-dried options. Canada’s short growing season means farmers are drying product for year-round use, extending their sales into the off-season.”

Sustainability, chemical-free practices, waste-reduction and conscious sourcing will continue to move toward the mainstream floral marketplace. A growing niche of floral professionals want to “do the right thing” and communicate their mission to customers and clients who will reward those values with their patronage.

#6 Collections as a Marketing Tool

From The Flori.Culture Summer 2019 Collection (c) Macey Sierka photography

From flower farms narrowing their focus to “what sells best,” to florists branding a distinct aesthetic, there are two schools of thought at play this coming year. Do you diversify by growing more floral varieties (46 percent) or narrow the focus by growing only a few key floral types (39 percent). Do you brand or market a specific crop, floral variety or design style? (Other top survey answers). Respondents placed nearly equal balance on doing one thing well and offering more choice as they seek that sweet spot of profitability.

A recent contemporary design project that Morgan created using only American-grown flowers

Morgan Anderson, Ph.D., of The Flori.Culture in Scottsdale, Ariz., has adopted floral collections as a strategic marketing tool for serving her customer base, largely out-of-town corporate event planners whose business brings them to desert destinations near her. She likens the seasonal botanical collections to couture collections of fashion houses. “Forming a seasonal collection, based on a muse of my choosing, is an unbound artistic outlet that has led to becoming one of The Flori.Culture’s strengths,” Anderson says. “Now, they are also a strategic marketing opportunity that evokes my signature style for clients to enjoy. And it is working.”

Seasonal floral collections arranged by palette on Harmony Harvest Farm’s web site

Harmony Harvest Farm in Weyers Cave, Virginia, uses floral collections as a farm-to-florist direct marketing tool, says Stephanie Auville. “Our color-based boxes include full collections of 100 stems or half collections of 50 stems, allowing florists to purchase in their color palette and receive a heavenly mix of fresh, diverse ingredients that are as functional as they are stunning.”

Two of the many collections from Harmony Harvest Farm

Boxes include focal flowers, filler flowers and other unique varieties, with the intention that a single collection contains “all the ingredients to make stunning, well-rounded arrangements,” she says. With palettes such as soft, essential, vibrant, blanc (white), or by season, Harmony Harvest Farm’s collections are intended to augment the “staple” botanicals their floral customer already sources from a local wholesale outlet.

#7 One to Many: A Monobotanic Aesthetic

Sinclair and Moore floral design for a Sun Valley wedding (c) Ryan Flynn Photography

The term “monobotanic” has crept into my consciousness in recent months, cited by a few designers as a fresh version of the tone-on-tone aesthetic. Single-variety bouquets were once synonymous with the “roundy-moundy” style of the ’90s. The new, fresher take features single-variety stems arranged in a voluminous or loose aesthetic, elevating focal flowers or delicate accent flowers alike.

Monobotanic styling places the focus on texture and shape – and can be whimsical, sophisticated or dramatic, “allowing the flowers to stand alone and be noticed,” observes farmer-florist Lynn Windmeyer of Home Place Fields in St. Joseph, Mo. Lori Hines, AIFD, of Abloom Ltd., in Walkersville, Md. notes: “We are having requests for lots of foliage with only one type of flower incorporated into the designs.”

Then there’s the touch of contrast mentioned by Blair Lynn of Sweet Blossoms LLC, in Frederick, Md.: “I am liking monochromatic and monobotanical for its simplicity but I find I gravitate towards a look that also has a pop of contrasting color in it.”

If you have a singular sensation to showcase, work monobotanic-styled bouquets and arrangements into your portfolio and see what new excitement you create with clients.

#8 Polychromatic Palettes

“Rainbow Bouquet,” designed by Steve Moore of Sinclair & Moore (c) Belathee Photography

By the time you read this report, Pantone Color Institute will have announced the color of 2020 — Classic Blue — influencing everything from floral palettes to home furnishings to kitchen appliances.

Primary palette for a beautiful hand-tied bouquet, by Whitney Muncy of Emerald Design

For the Slow Flowers community, I’m hearing predictions for a polychromatic rainbow of hues in the coming season. “I see nature’s colors across the spectrum,” says one respondent. “I have had several wedding inquires and they have all been multicolored, hand-tied bouquets,” says Stacey Schmidt of Narrow Trail Farm. “Fingers crossed — brights are coming back.”

Adds Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore in Damascus, Maryland: “Color blocking in design will become more visible.”

Polychromatic bouquet by Isabella Thorndike Church of Jacklily Floral

The survey reflects a slight nod to the golden hues of yellow, with 23 percent of respondents predicting shades across the yellow continuum — butter yellow, lemon, ochre, mustard, antique gold, coffee, tan, taupe, citron, chartreuse and honey. Other than yellow, there is no major standout, thanks to every color of the rainbow receiving between 10 percent and 15 percent of the forecast vote. 

What does that tell me? I’ve decided that rainbow palettes, more aptly named Polychomratic Florals, will wow the marketplace in 2020. It’s not for everyone, of course.

But even Steven Moore of Seattle-based Sinclair & Moore, the maestro of neutrals, designed an unforgettably prismatic wedding, published by Martha Stewart Weddings in 2015.

This fresh spring compote arrangement by Cultivated by Christin, illustrates the color transition with analagous hues.

“High-contrast market bouquets — built on variations of the primary colors red, yellow, and blue — have made some designers wary of using bold, saturated colors together lest it appear to cheapen their work,” Christin of Cultived by Christin notes. “The trend I see in polychromatic arrangements is color shifting over the arc of the piece, blocking analogous colors together and placing them alongside their complement in an arrangement. For example, moving a design from pink to coral to orange and then using purple to up the visual excitement.”

Inspired by a colorful world of botanicals, I love what I’m seeing from floral designers, farmer-florists and growers whose penchant for petals with pigment is on the rise. Let’s love all hues!

#9 Shifting Forms

Form, line, geometry — illustrated by two of Hitomi Gilliam’s unique, architectural floral pieces (c) Colin Gilliam

While 43 percent of our survey respondents predicting that 2020 will see a sustained “loose, soft and fluid” floral aesthetic, there is also indication that asymmetrical, geometric forms and “deconstructed/reconstructed” silhouettes are emerging (20 percent).

Exaggerated linear shapes may be influenced by Ikebana, or they may be a continuance of transparent/open-form shapes, as we highlighted in the 2019 forecast. “The more airy, deconstructed design work is not what I mainly do, but it is what I see emerging more and more — and would like to explore further,” says Daniele Strawn of JoLee Blooms & Designs in Bloomfield, Calif.

“Creating from locally farm-grown flowers entirely lends itself to the loose or natural aesthetic, enhancing or highlighting the natural curves of each stem is a motivator in my design process,” observes Lynn Windmeyer. Amy Balsters of Amy Nicole Floral in Alexandria, Virginia, cited floral-focused and open-form designs, for example.

left: Contemporary floral design reflects “deconstructed-reconstructed” theme from The Local Flower Collective in Toronto (c) Danijela Gorley Photography; right: Magnolia and chrystanthemum arrangement, designed by Rachel Johnson, Simply Grounded

“I am a Sogetsu Ikebana designer and this formative training has set my aesthetic towards exploring each flower, leaf and branch for its unique sculptural potential,” says Rachel Johnson of San Francisco-based Simply Grounded. “The design concept of ‘dismantle and rearrange’ is one we explore over and over again to expose the unexpected beauty within. Focus on an original aspect gives clarity to the rest of the design and the purpose of each extra element used.”

I predict this aesthetic will increasingly excite and energize floral customers.

#10 Responding to Climate Change:

Dried flowers, grasses and wild-foraged elements are mixed with local Wyoming-grown flowers, designed by Teresa Tibbets of Dandelion Floral

Forty-four percent of our survey respondents say they are adjusting growing practices to adapt to climate change. The variables of changing weather and natural disasters have disrupted growers across North America, with extremes ranging from drought and fires to hurricanes and flooding.

At Narrow Trail Farm in Kansas, a beautiful, 1/2-acre native plant area for the native bees and butterflies — called “The Pollinator Patch.”

“We’re working with the seasons and dry conditions by utilizing as many native varieties and plants adaptive to our region,” notes Stacy Schmidt of Narrow Trail Farm in Baldwin City, Kan. “There is still a lot of work to do to promote non-standard varieties to consumers. All our future improvements are about water control due to climate change impacts.”

Use of natural resources, alternative energy sourcing and the adoption of restorative agriculture practices are factoring into the decisions of many.
Flower growers are not the only ones challenged by unpredictable weather or climate patterns. Indeed, everyone is adapting, as florists who crave date-specific botanical varieties know now, more than ever, there’s potential for a freak summer hailstorm or unseasonably early frost wiping out perfect planning for a client’s wedding.

What are people doing about this reality?

“I’m looking to extend the seasons, with different varieties that can take our heat and humidity,” says Florida-based Kate Read of Grey Tabby Flower Farm.

Adds Teresa Tibbits, “I’m working with the seasons and dry conditions by utilizing as many native varieties and plants best adapted to the Rocky Mountain’s extreme climate and short growing season. There is still a lot of work to do to promote non-standard varieties to consumers, though.”

Lisa Dunton’s recent post talks about her conscious decision to source only locally-grown, regional and Western U.S. and Canadian flowers

In Seattle recently, event florist Lisa Dunton of Lisa Dunton Studio convened “The Floral Biz & Climate Change,” a roundtable discussion for her peers. Rather than feeling helpless about her worries, Dunton says she decided to create a “chance to air our thoughts about our role in the climate emergency and strategize about our next steps.”
Because of her heightened awareness, Lisa Dunton has also taken steps in her business. “I made a decision at the beginning of 2019 to only source West Coast flowers, with a little bit from Hawaii. I’ve let my clients know and I also made a point to talk about it with them. I’ve told them, ‘hey, things might start to look different, but here’s why.’ And all my clients have been really receptive.”

With decades in the floral marketplace, Lisa says she can measure her personal shift from long-distance sourcing to finding design ingredients closer to home – and that also includes foraging. “I’ve also foraged at least 15 to 20 percent of what I put in my arrangements now, so that’s hyper-local,” she says. 

Seasonal arrangement designed and photographed by Christin Geall of Cultivated features blooms from her cutting garden as well as foraged Himalayan blackberry canes, an invasive.

“Designers are increasingly savvy about provenance,” adds Christin. “I believe the turn towards using foraged materials is a response to climate change. Place-based awareness begins with knowing one’s ecosystem — what plants are invasive, say — and harvesting those and disposing of them responsibly.”

I have tracked the rise of foraging for years and noted the comeback of “Modern Everlastings” and dried flowers in the Slow Flowers’ 2016 Forecast. As more designers embrace a new aesthetic, perhaps one silver lining to changing climates is our willingness to work more closely with the seasons rather than try and outsmart Mother Nature.

Well, that’s it — 10 insights for you. It takes a full year to observe, listen, document and evaluate the input for this report and I thank everyone who took time to share their insights with me. You can be sure I’ve already started a folder for 2021, and I could certainly use your help — so please share your thoughts with me! Get in touch at

Before we close, I want to draw your attention to a couple additional pieces of news:

First, Slow Flowers leads off an insightful report that just appeared on December 24th in the international publication Floral Daily, published out of Holland.

The article is headlined: “Slow Flower Growers Stand United across States.” Authored by editor Jan Jacob Mekes, the piece starts out with these opening lines:

A six percent rise in wholesale value, eight percent more producers, and an increase of 12 percent in acreage. The report card for U.S. floriculture is looking pretty good, when comparing 2018 to the situation three years earlier (see the Floriculture Crops 2018 Summary from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service). So things are looking up for growers in the U.S., but will it remain that way? And what are the challenges and opportunities the industry can expect to see in the near future?

More domestic cultivation: Debra Prinzing is the founder of Slow Flowers, a community-based branding and media campaign that advocates for the floral industry and its consumers to embrace local, seasonal, and sustainable flowers. She’s noticing not only an increase in the amount of domestic growers, but also more interest in the Slow Flowers Movement. “We have continued to experience audience and participation growth in all channels. The term ‘slow flowers’ is more widely recognized than ever before. In the four years since we began subscribing to, an independent tracking service, #slowflowers has generated more than 160 million social media impressions (June 2015 to present). Wikipedia published an entry about Slow Flowers in April 2019, reflecting a new level of mainstream popularity for the concept of domestic and sustainable floriculture.”

You’ll want to read the full article, found here. Comments from our sponsor ASCFG is included, as are quote from Slow Flowers members Erin Benzakein of floret, Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony, Jamie Rohda of Harvest Home Flowers and Val Schirmer of Three Toads Farm. In all, a snapshot of optimism for the Slow Flowers Movement in the year to come.

Clockwise from top, left: Susan Mcleary, Kellee Matsushita-Tseng, Molly Culver, Lorene Edwards Forkner, Debra Prinzing, Jennifer Jewell, Pilar Zuniga and Emily Saeger

And here’s an update about the Slow Flowers Summit: First of all, our Early Bird registration promotion for the 4th annual Slow Flowers Summit has closed as of December 31st.

More than 50 of you took advantage of the early bird pricing — and we will sell out the conference at 150 registrations. So don’t have FOMO — you’ll want to make your way to to learn all about the many opportunities to attend and participate.

Slow Flowers members will still enjoy discount pricing up until the day of the Summit. Check out details on the full itinerary, speakers and  2-1/2-day program I can’t wait to see you there!

Thank you to our Sponsors

Next week, we’ll start a new rotation of sponsor spotlights, but today, I want to again say thank-you to these amazing sponsors who supported us in 2019.  Arctic Alaska Peonies, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, Longfield Gardens, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Syndicate Sales, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, Mayesh Wholesale Florist, Northwest Green Panels and Farmers’ Web. 

We have a vital and vibrant community of flower farmers and floral designers who together define the Slow Flowers Movement. As our cause gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious.

I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 562,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. Thank you all!

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast.
Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto iTunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at

Music Credits:

Betty Dear; Entwined Oddity; Gaena; Glass Beads; Vienna Beat
by Blue Dot Sessions

Lovely by Tryad

In The Field
Music from:

One Response to “Episode 434 Slow Flowers’ 2020 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, plus our final state focus: Wyoming”

  1. Episode 487: Slow Flowers Floral Insights & Industry Forecast for 2021 - Debra Prinzing Says:

    […] year, in the 2020 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, I featured Climate Change for the first time with an insight titled “Responding to Climate […]

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