The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
NOV 1 7 1987 GULF OAST RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER
IFAS, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
5007 60th Street East
University of Florida Bradenton, FL 34203
Bradenton GCREC Research Report BRA1987-24 October 1987
THE FLORIDA FLOWER INDUSTRY:
Description and Changes, Future Potential, and
Research and Educational Needs
W. E. Waters, G. J. Wilfret and B. K. Harbaugh1
Industry Description: Florida ranks second among the 50 states in the
value of floricultural commodities with an estimated value of $136 million
in 1986 produced on 7637 acres of field crops and 36.8 million sq. ft. of
greenhouse and semi-structures (1,4,5). A wide variety of floral products
under cultivation include cut flowers, potted flowers, bulbs, tubers,
bedding plants, cuttings, transplants, seeds and tissue culture explants.
Florida's flower industry can generally be classified by one of three
distinct production systems: (1) semi-structures such as saran and
sawtooth houses, (2) permanent greenhouses with environmental controls,
and (3) open field production (1,2,3). Many plant species may be grown
under one, two or even all three production systems, depending upon the
season and geographical location.
The open field crops are located primarily in the southern half of the
state in the warmer coastal areas whereas semi- and permanent greenhouse
production is sprinkled throughout the state and concentrated around
metropolitan and coastal areas. Cut flower production in semi-structures
or in open fields is primarily from October through fay; however, limited
year-around production of some crops occurs in all geographic regions. In
central Florida, over 100 cultivars of caladiums, a colorful Tropical
American tuber, are grown for tuber production during summer months on
muck soils, primarily around Sebring and Lake Placid. Florida produces
all the U.S. production and over 90% of the world supply of caladium
Predominant crops grown under semi-structures include cut and potted
chrysanthemums, azaleas, hydrangeas, gerberas, carnations, poinsettias,
bedding plants, floral cuttings and other miscellaneous cut and potted
flowers. Greenhouse crops include chrysanthemums, geraniums, poinsettias,
violets, gloxinias, Easter lilies, enchantment lilies, orchids, bedding
plants, hydrangeas, exacum, floral cuttings and other miscellaneous
florist crops (Table 2). Predominant field crops include gladiolus
flowers and corms, gypsophila, statice, caladiums and miscellaneous cut
flowers and bulb crops (Table 1).
1Center Director, Geneticist, and Ornamental Horticulturist, respectively.
The leading cut flower crops are gladiolus, pompon chrysanthemums,
gypsophila and statice, whereas caladiums and gladiolus constitute the
major tuber or bulb crops.
Crop Changes: In general, during the past few years, the production of
pot-flower crops, bulb and tuberous crops, floral cutting and bedding
plants have increased significantly while cut flowers have declined.
These shifts in production have been attributed primarily to foreign
competition and increased domestic production costs. Additionally, the
diversification of foliage plant producers into colorful potted flower
crops had contributed to production increases. Potted poinsettia
production, for example, has increased dramatically with 107 producers now
growing this crop (2,4,5,6).
Immediate Outlook: The floricultural industry is one of the most highly
technical and intensified industries in Florida agriculture today and its
survival and continuous development in the 1990's depends upon its ability
to deal effectively with: (1) foreign competition, (2) federal, state,
county, and city regulatory agencies, (3) improved marketing strategies,
(4) pest control, (5) capital availability with acceptable interest rates,
(6) development of mass marketing techniques, (7) water management, (8)
environmental pressures, (9) automation and operation efficiency, (10) use
of inexpensive structures, and (11) continued personnel training and
Areas of potential opportunity include production of new and different
crops, potted flowering crops, potted annuals, tropical bulb production,
utilization of mass markets as well as local and foreign markets, use of
"high tech" propagation methods including unique seeding systems and use
of innovative structural and production systems and product
Areas of industry strengths include moderate to mild climates, adequate
water and land, close proximity to eastern markets and large metropolitan
areas, availability of technology, availability of production supplies,
and presently more favorable financial rates.
Some areas of industry weaknesses include lack of strong statewide trade
association, vast geographic and crop differences, inability to deal with
regulatory agencies, disorganized marketing and advertising methods, lack
of product control during transportation and marketing, and continuously
increasing labor and production costs.
Some areas of potential opportunities for research, extension and teaching
contributions by IFAS to the floral industry are identified below and they
should assist the industry to survive and prosper into the mid 1990's:
Crop Improvement: Plant breeding, genetic development and
evaluation of both new cultivars and new crops with desirable
horticultural characteristics, disease and insect resistance
and adaption to Florida's subtropical climate are absolutely
Plant Propagation: The development and use of starter plants,
explants, modern propagation techniques and clean seed are
required for the production of disease-free propagation units
that will produce uniformly with consistent yield and quality.
Pest Control: The continued development and application of
integrated pest management systems utilizing biological,
chemical and cultural techniques in the best combination to
control insects, diseases, nematodes and weeds are required.
Special attention must be paid to both new crops and new pests
that move into this subtropical area.
Water Management: Determination of crop water requirements and
development of conservative water management practices are
required to insure sufficient water allocations for flower
producers by the water management districts.
Crop Management: Development and utilization of more efficient
cultural and production practices are essential for the
successful future of this industry. Some areas include use of
field mulches, weed control, cover crops, crop rotations,
refinement, light and temperature controls, clean media,
chemical growth regulators and continuous production systems.
Structural Designs: It is essential to develop improved
greenhouse and structural designs which are energy efficient
for both heating and cooling in the subtropics and which will
permit year-round production.
Labor and Engineering: Since floral crops are very labor
intensive, development and utilization of labor-saving concepts
in production equipment, packaging and marketing systems will
Computer Application: The utilization of computer technology
in all phases of production, greenhouse operations, production
schedules and marketing will be necessary.
Postharvest: Development of post production and postharvest
handling and marketing techniques for floral commodities will
Personnel and Educational Support: The availability of well-
trained students with some firsthand greenhouse and farm
experience and a well-trained, innovative local extension staff
will be vital to the industry's success.
1. Carpenter, W. J., C. A. Conover, T. E. Freeman, D. L. Ingram, T. A.
Nell, and W. E. Waters. 1986. Florida Agriculture in the 80's
Update. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of
Florida, Gainesville, FL. pp. 158-168.
2. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 1975. Agricultural
Growth in an Urban Age. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. pp.
3. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. 1983. Florida
Agriculture in the 80's Ornamental Horticulture Committee Reports.
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. 93 pp.
4. United States Department of Agriculture. 1987, Floriculture Crops
1986 Summary. Agricultural Statistics Board Publications,
Washington, D.C. 78 pp.
5. United States Department of Agriculture. 1987. Florida Agriculture
Foliage, Floriculture, and Cut Greens, April 1987. Florida
Agricultural Statistics Service, Orlando, FL. 4 pp.
6. Waters, W. E. 1975. Production of Flowers and Foliage Plants in
Florida and the Tropics. Bradenton Agri. and Educ. Center Res. Rept.
- The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.
- A statewide organization dedicated to teaching, research and extension.
- Faculty located in Gainesville and at 23 Research and Education Centers
and 67 County Extension offices throughout the state.
- A partnership in food and agriculture, and natural and renewable re-
source research and education, funded by state, federal and local
government, and by gifts and grants from individuals, foundations,
government and industry.
- An organization whose mission is:
Educating students in the food, agricultural, and related sciences.
Strengthening Florida's diverse food and agricultural industry and
its environments through research.
Enhancing for all Floridians, the application of research and
knowledge to improve the quality of life statewide through IFAS
Table 1. Estimated square feet of commercial production and wholesale value of floricultura
in 1986 semi-permanent and permanent structures.
1 crops for Florida
No. 1,000 area 1987 % Units sold Unit
Crop producers sq. ft. intended 1987 of 1986 x 1,000 Price $1,000's
iliniature carnation 4 432 432 100 536 1.40 750
African violet 21 535 68 1,541 .97 1,495
Cut flowers (Pompon) 9 7,405 5,547 75 2,518 1.43 3,601
Potted mums 29 3,419 3,420 100 3,850 2.31 8,894
Cuttings 3 3,800 3,800 100 300,000 18,000
Florist azalea 9 2,635 2,635 100 1,416 3.77 5,338
Hydrangea 17 508 502 99 319 2.60 829
Potted lilies 31 329 350 106 278 3.83 1,163
Orchids 40 5,228 5,228 100 3,000
Poinsettias 107 5,338 5,400 102 3,116 2.85 8,881
Geraniums (cuttings) 68 1,283 1,257 98 2,525 1.05 2,651
Geraniums (seed) 41 592 598 101 2,193 .70 1,535
Mums 37 260 275 106 429 .85 365
Other flowering (flats) 58 3,610 3,700 105 3,002 4.90 14,710
Other potted 131 9.699 11,154 115 39,013 .53 20,677
Vegetables (flats) 26 315 320 100 217 4.71 1,022
Vegetables (potted) 15 228 242 106 574 .49 281
aEstimate does not include approximately 3,000
small orchid growers and hobbyists who sell some blooms and
Ref. Source: (3,4,5).
NOTE: All estimates do not include several hundred small producers that market less than $10,000 of products
or the over 8,000 registered nurserymen that produce small quantities of floral crops and list as
Table 2. Estimated acreage of commercial production and wholesale value of field grown floricultural crops for
Florida in 1986.
Production Production 1986
No. area 1986 area 1986 % Units sold Unit
Crop producers acres intended 1987 of 1987 x 1,000 Price $1,000's
Amaryllis 2 10 10 100 150
Caladiums 43 1,200 1,250 105 64,000 8,400
Gladiolus flowers 8 3,886 3,878 100 106,705 15.3 16,326
Gladiolus corms 3 120 120 100 720
Gypsophila 12 350 350 117 6,300
Statice 10 300 300 100 4,500
Misc. cut flowers 35 150 150 100 3,000
Misc. bulb crops 40 106 100 100 2,429 2,000
Ref. Source: (3,4,5).
NOTE: Estimates do not include several hundred small growers with less than $10,000 annual flower sales or the
over 8,000 registered nurserymen that grow limited quantities of selected floral crops and report as