Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Through Miami’s Airport Yours Probably Flew

The roses that you buy this week from a florist, supermarket or website for Valentine’s Day in all likelihood arrived in the United States through one place: Miami International Airport, the port of entry for about 90 percent of the nation’s imported cut flowers.

All year, farmworkers snip flowers by hand, mostly in Colombia and Ecuador, to be sent on cargo planes to Miami, where they are inspected and then loaded on trucks to reach every mainland state. Sometimes, flowers cut in the morning can be in South Florida, a three- or four-hour flight away, by the afternoon.

It is a logistical feat, especially in the weeks leading up to Feb. 14 — one of the flower industry’s two peak holidays, along with Mother’s Day. Yet few consider that when they pick up bouquets for $20 at Target.

“If you ask general consumers, ‘Where do flowers come from?’ they think they’re from somebody’s back yard,” said Christine Boldt, executive vice president of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida, a trade group.

Agricultural specialists with the Customs and Border Protection office inspect flowers that have arrived through Miami International Airport.
Preparations for the holiday begin months in advance. The numbers of flower flights, inspectors and workers expand starting in mid-January.

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