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Back in Bogota for the big Proflora trade show

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The last time we joined Geoff Royer in South America, it was in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. Geoff, area manager, and his uncle Tom Royer, senior vice president and chief operating officer, were checking on the quality of roses being grown just for Royer’s customers for the holiday.

Early October found Geoff and Tom back in South America, half of their time spent at farms and the rest at the big Proflora floral trade show in Bogota, Colombia.

Unlike most florists, Royer’s acts as its own wholesaler, distributing fresh flowers to its 16 stores in seven counties. Dealing directly with growers gives Royer’s more control over costs and quality but warrants a continual presence in South America.

“It’s important to us to look at the farms because that is where we can see if problems are starting to develop,” Geoff said. “It’s also the last place our flowers are before they are boxed up and sent to the U.S.”

Meanwhile, that same desire to stay ahead of events is why Geoff and Tom attended Proflora. As a preview of what’s coming, the show allows Royer’s to be on the forefront of procuring the best products for its customers.

It is held every two years so that floral buyers and growers alike can see what’s new and what’s coming in the floral industry. The show exhibitors range from flower food makers and logistics companies to, of course, breeders and growers.

“It is start to finish what a wholesaler needs to complete their job,” Geoff said.

Specific goals

It’s typical for Royer’s to approach the show with specific goals in mind. This year, the focus was on finding additional growers to meet Royer’s needs for poms and limonium.

Specifically, Geoff said, poms (as is true for other types of flowers) used in arrangements should have long laterals, which is the distance from a flower to its main stem. The longer, the better, in terms of appearance in an arrangement.

“We have a pom grower now that does very well with this, but we are continually looking for who else is growing what we are looking for,” Geoff said.

“With the limonium (also known as caspia), we use a specific variety and are searching for another grower of it. It helps us at holidays to ensure we can get the supply that we need.”

Among the other Proflora highlights:

  • In the show’s variety competition, one of Royer’s carnation growers, Geoflora, and its breeder, S.B. Talee, won two awards for carnations and one for ranunculus.
  • Geoff and Tom saw new spray rose varieties. Spray roses typically used to be smaller, Geoff said, with a lower petal count. They didn’t last as long and tended to open very quickly. The new varieties not only have higher petal counts but are much larger. Royer’s potentially can use them in corsage and wedding work or even in vases.
  • Geoff and Tom also saw several new varieties of red roses. Currently, Royer’s most-used variety is called Freedom. It has a high petal count, and when it opens is just beautiful. Everyone is looking for the next Freedom, Geoff said.
  • Garden roses also are becoming more popular, mostly for weddings and event work. Alexandra Farms, a group Royer’s is just starting to work with, grows multiple varieties of garden roses. These include David Austin varieties, named for the renowned English breeder whose roses are regaled for their beauty and scent.

“The most exciting things about the garden roses is the smell,” Geoff said. “In many cases the scent of flowers has been bred out of them. Scent and vase life are typically linked. Garden roses still have the scents and they are typically larger bloom sizes.”

Geoff and Tom will head back to South America early in the new year, ahead of Valentine’s Day, as the cycle repeats itself.

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