WASHINGTON — At The Modest Florist, in Baltimore, there isn’t a red rose in sight — not even on the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. It’s a business decision that owner Libby Francis-Baxter says is intentional.
The shop, which opened in 2013, sells only locally grown flowers, and as it turns out, rose-growers in the D.C. area are scarce.
“Up until about the ’80s, it was very typical to have greenhouses that specialized in roses all throughout the country,” Francis-Baxter says. But, she says, that is no longer the case.
In 1971, the U.S. produced 1.2 billion blooms of roses, carnations and chrysanthemums, and imported 200 million. Thirty years later, those statistics reversed,Smithsonian reports.
“Little by little, over the decades, we now have about 90 percent of the roses that are sold in the United States actually coming from Colombia and Ecuador, with very few still produced in California,” Francis-Baxter says.
Seventy percent of all flowers sold in the U.S. come from Colombia, a countrythat exports around $1 billion worth of flowers annually.
For florists, Valentine’s Day is the single busiest day of the year — a day, Francis-Baxter says, that significantly impacts annual sales. With roses totaling75 percent of the flowers purchased on Valentine’s Day, one might find it crazy to intentionally not sell them. But Francis-Baxter isn’t easily intimidated, nor is she dissuaded from her mission.
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