2022’s Best Cities for Local Flowers

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Happy Woman Working at Local Flower Shop - Holding bouquet with pink flowers

Spring is here, so stop and smell the roses. Or tiptoe through the tulips. Or buy fresh-cut flowers for Mom this Mother’s Day. 

Some cities have a bouquet of local flower options while others are slim pickings.

To separate (fleur)ishing local floral scenes from the garden variety, Lawn Love ranked 2022’s Best Cities for Local Flowers.

We compared nearly 200 cities based on flower and delivery access, vendor quality, and local demand.

Find out where to get high-quality local blooms below, followed by some highlights, lowlights, and expert tips on floral shopping.

In this article

  1. City rankings
  2. Bloom or bust: Key insights
  3. Peony for your thoughts: Expert takes
  4. Behind the ranking

City rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Note: Although we ranked 196 cities, the lowest ranking position under some metrics above may not be 196 due to a number of ties among cities. In cases of significant ties, only the first several cities also may be displayed for presentation purposes.

Bloom or bust: Key insights

Santa Rosa: A Cut Above the Rest

What are the odds that our best city for local cut flowers would contain “rose” in its name? We’d love to say we hand-plucked Santa Rosa, California, as our No. 1 city, but this botanical bastion sprouted to the top of our list on its own, thanks to its numerous flower farms supplying highly rated local florists.

Santa Rosa gets the biggest boost in its ranking from its members in the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, an international organization dedicated to promoting local flower cultivation and sales. Our Local Flower Capital tied for first place in this metric with only two other cities, Philadelphia and Lakewood, Colorado.

Santa Rosa also ranked high in Local Demand (No. 6) and Delivery Access (No. 5).

Local tips

California Blooming

The Golden State sure knows how to make a stamen.

California cities hacked their way to our top five, including Santa Rosa in first place, Los Angeles (No. 2) and its suburbs, as well as San Diego (No. 5). San Francisco trails behind at No. 7. Perhaps more impressive, nine of our top 10 cities for Vendor Quality are also planted in California.

The Golden State’s flourishing performance stems from its national status as a floral powerhouse. California is America’s “Cut Flower Capital,” producing 76% of all the cut flowers in the nation and ranking behind only Florida in total floriculture crop sales.

Our ranking reflects this high standing: California’s cities claimed some of the top spots in access to flower shops, garden shops, and flower farms.

Local tips

Quantity Over Quality in Florida

The Sunshine State is America’s leading wholesaler of floriculture crops, confirmed by the proliferation of florists in Orlando and Miami. These two cities landed in first and third places, respectively, in flower shops per square mile. They’re also Florida’s top performers overall.

But Floridians aren’t the happiest with their state’s blooms. Only three of the 13 Sunshine State cities in our ranking landed in the upper half of our Vendor Quality category, starting with Miami at No. 66. Pembroke Pines narrowly escaped last place at No. 195. 

While some of Florida’s local floral scenes have room to grow, you can still find high-quality blooms throughout the state by checking out our local tips below.

Local tips

  • In Orlando, sign up for a flower subscription from Secret Garden Guru to stay well stocked for Mother’s Day, birthdays, or just because. Owner and highly experienced garden coach, Lyndsey Boekenkamp, also teaches private floral design — even urban gardening — classes for all ages.
  • Looking for fine art-inspired, bespoke arrangements in Miami? Visit Rose Coloured, where you also can take your floral design skills to the next level by attending an in-studio workshop and be connected with local artists.

Peony for your thoughts: Expert takes

Many consumers aren’t aware that 80% of the cut flowers purchased in the U.S. are imported from countries like the Netherlands, Colombia, Ecuador, and Kenya. Many also don’t understand the benefits of buying locally grown flowers — or at least buying flowers from local sellers.

To help educate our readers, we asked a panel of industry experts to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the top three reasons consumers should buy local flowers?
  2. How can consumers ensure they’re buying the freshest flowers from their local florist?
  3. What are some places to avoid buying flowers from and why?
  4. When online floral retailers advertise discounts on flowers, are consumers actually getting a good deal compared with buying local? Why or why not?
  5. What are three examples of local flowers that are truly associated with a city or region?
Melinda Knuth
Assistant Professor
Shital Poudyal, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Plants, Soils & Climate
Melinda Knuth
Assistant Professor
NC State University

What are the top three reasons consumers should buy local flowers?

1. Buying local flowers promotes and strengthens the local economy. 

2. Additionally, buying local flowers allows for more specialty selection since some flowers, such as dahlias, do not transport well. They can only be found locally. 

3. Lastly, it could help reduce the carbon footprint of the flowers because they do not have to travel as far.

How can consumers ensure they’re buying the freshest flowers from their local florist?

Ask the florist when the flowers came in. A well-handled flower will last the consumer 10–14 days at home. 

Make sure your florist has tidy coolers, the water in the floral vase is clean, and that you know how to properly use “flower food” that comes with the flowers. This is a food solution that will help them last as long as possible.

What are some places to avoid buying flowers from and why?

I wouldn’t say that there is a place to avoid. Sometimes the freshest flowers are purchased on the side of the road (i.e. next to the field). Each type of location has advantages and disadvantages. 

Care and handling of the flowers is very company-specific. The best tip I have is to make sure you’re purchasing from a location that is clean and where the staff is knowledgeable. If they don’t engage with you on how to care for your flowers, beware!

When online floral retailers advertise discounts on flowers, are consumers actually getting a good deal compared with buying local? Why or why not?

Again, this is company-specific. Usually, the deal is good. The reason for this is that the online company can source the flowers in bulk for a lower price than the local flower farmer can produce the flower. 

Because their input costs are lower, they can sell their flowers for a lower price point and still be profitable. This isn’t pulling the wool over the consumer’s eyes –– this is just pure market engagement.

What are three examples of local flowers that are truly associated with a city or region? 

Dahlias, zinnias, and ranunculuses are almost exclusively grown locally. They do not transport long distances (in boxes) well. Therefore, when you see them they are probably from a location very close to you. 

The easiest way to find the most local, fresh flowers is to frequent farmer’s markets. Your local farmers are there. Additionally, they will be fresh. The farmers usually cut the flowers the night before or the same day as they sell them. 

Some cities, like here in Raleigh, are flower farmer-friendly. Supermarket chains will buy flowers from local farmers and sell them in the stores to consumers. Check with your local stores to see if they do the same.

Shital Poudyal, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Plants, Soils & Climate
Utah State University

What are the top three reasons consumers should buy local flowers?

There are numerous reasons to shop locally, but below are my top three reasons:

1. Support the local economy

Around 70–80% of cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported. Buying local flowers incentivizes local growers to invest and produce flowers locally, thus reducing the import of cut flowers. It will also boost the local economy by creating more local jobs.

2. Longer flower life and larger variations in flower types

Locally grown flowers can be immediately sold to customers, hence can stay fresh longer. In addition, flowers that are delicate to handle and have a short life can still be grown and sold locally; therefore, consumers can enjoy more variation in flower types if shopped locally.

3. Support sustainability — less environmental footprint

Climate change and increasing global warming are challenging issues of this century. Most of the flowers sold to the U.S. are from South America and Europe. These flowers need to be packed, stored in cool chambers, and shipped thousands of miles away. 

If we buy locally, we would minimize the use of fuels and resources and thus contribute to lowering the environmental footprint of our actions. 

How can consumers ensure they’re buying the freshest flowers from their local florist?

Local florists often sell their flowers in local farmer’s markets or local floral shops. Local flowers sold also tend to be seasonal. 

When buying flowers, observe petals (colorful outside part of a flower) for turgidity and firmness. Avoid flowers with petals that are wilted, rustic, and have brown spots. If available, buy flowers that are just beginning to open and still in the bud phase. Those flowers tend to be fresh and last longer. 

When flowers are not shipped or handled appropriately, buds will be soft. A fresh flower will have tight and firm buds that can easily be felt with a gentle touch. Inspect sepals (green part of a flower) and leaves; if the leaves are wilted, saggy, brown, or rustic, the flowers in that bunch might not be fresh. 

Also, avoid stems that are slimy or swollen. After purchasing flowers, cut 1 inch of the lower part of the stem and immediately put the flower in water; alternatively, you can also cut the stem underwater. This action will remove air pockets from the stems and facilitate water and sugar uptake, making flowers last longer.

What are some places to avoid buying flowers from and why?

There aren’t any specified places to avoid buying flowers. However, flowers sold in big chain stores generally are not handled as needed. 

These big stores usually sell thousands of goods, and flowers are just another commodity. Hence, they do not have appropriate flower storage temperatures, employees might neglect watering, and flowers may be stored in higher temperatures and sometimes under direct heat or sunlight. 

Additionally, most of the flowers sold by these big bulk stores are of lower quality and are usually imported from very long distances. However, these issues are location-specific; therefore, do your research before buying flowers from these stores.

When online floral retailers advertise discounts on flowers, are consumers actually getting a good deal compared with buying local? Why or why not?

In my opinion, buying local is always a great deal. Let me explain why: 

When you buy flowers online, there are two primary ways to deliver your purchase. The first and standard process is where the online sales agent, who generally does not have any flower experience, takes your order. The agent then contacts your local flower growers and arranges flower delivery between you and your local grower, for which they charge a hefty commission. 

Because the grower has to pay the online agent (middleman) a share of their profit, the price of flowers on an online store is usually higher, even with discounts. However, online stores sometimes have lower prices, and that is usually when local growers are selling unsold inventory, which is about to go bad, for a lower price. Therefore, buying local will, in most cases, save you money. In addition, you get to see and feel fresh flowers before you buy.

The second way to deliver your purchase is by online store themselves. Online stores sometimes buy a huge inventory of flowers and do the shipping, handling, and delivery. In this case, although the price of the flower may be lower, they charge additional fees for shipping, handling, and accessories, spiking final costs at the end. 

In addition, you do not know if the flower will be on time and what the flower’s condition will be. Therefore, you might get a good deal on flowers but get a flower that will only stay fresh for the next two days. Also, think about the hidden cost of online delivery, such as packaging and carbon emissions. Buying locally is more climate-friendly.

What are examples of local flowers that are truly associated with a city or region?

Growers always aim toward growing flowers that are high in demand, and Utah growers are no different. Local growers in Utah commonly grow peonies, snapdragons, dahlias, zinnias, sage, yarrow, cosmos, tulips, daffodils, lilies, and many more. These flowers are either grown in high tunnels or on the field.

Behind the ranking

We ranked 196 of the biggest U.S. cities from best to worst (1–196) based on their overall scores (out of 100 possible points), averaged across all the weighted metrics listed below.

Sources: Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, Find A Florist, Google Ads, Slow Flowers, and Yelp

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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