Canada, the world’s second largest country, has 36 million inhabitants. Most of them live no more than 200 kilometres north of the US border. Off course this influences horticulture. Urban areas (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver) have vivid floral markets, but finding a good flower shop near the Polar Circle is a challenge.

 The market

Canadians more and more use flowers in everyday life (but less than Europeans do). Many grocery stores sell cut flowers and potted plants at affordable prices. Florists have a market in special occasions like weddings and funerals but they have to be inventive and creative to keep it. Retailers strengthen their market position in flower sales. Forty years ago many flower sales in the Toronto area were done by small convenience or grocery shops. But the shop owners children became teachers or lawyers and so the small shops were closed.

The market of garden centres shows an upscaling. Many small garden centres disappeared. They couldn’t compete with larger retailers and garden centres and/or sold their property for urban expansion. In the larger garden centres of today the percentage of green products falls and the percentage of non-green products rises. Still sales of green products rise too, not only sold by garden centres but also for landscaping.

The competition

In cut flowers Canadian growers have a growing competition from Latin America and Africa. Energy and labour cost, but also stricter environmental regulations weaken the Canadians position and led to a shrink in local production of Chrysanthemums and Carnations. But Canada do have an outlet in exporting to the USA (as long as a Canadian dollar is worth less than 85 US cents). Therefore Canadian growers are continuously searching for good new varieties.

The heritage

Many Canadian growers have a Dutch background. Their father, grandfather of great-grandfather moved to Canada and continued what he had done at home by starting a nursery. Many of their ancestors still have connections with the old motherland. It is no coincidence that the Vancouver flower auction was based upon Dutch examples. Growers who force bulbs still buy their stock from Dutch companies. But it is virtually impossible to get good European Chrysanthemum varieties across the Atlantic Ocean. Older people (who can still read Dutch) still read Dutch trade magazines and find new ideas and developments in them.

But cuttings for the plant production mainly are bought in Central or South America. This shows how the market is maturing. Canada has its own market of ornamental products, which by the way has certain similarities with the US ornamental market. This means breeders, growers, wholesalers, retailers and florist try to adapt to the specific need of this market. But relations with Europe (and the Netherlands) remain, especially in trying to find new, promising varieties.

Thanks to Rita Weerdenburg (Canadian Nursery Landscape Association) and Peter Kralt (Kralt Greenhouses)

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