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Association of Colombian Flower Exporters President Augusto Solano Promotion Manager Jairo Cadavid Editorial Committee Alberto Bermúdez Carlos Manuel Uribe Francisco Bazzani Luis Martín De Germán-Ribón Ernesto Vélez, In Memoriam


Diseño Editorial Libros y Revistas Executive & Managing Editor - Research Andrés Caycedo General Manager - Copy Editor Ricardo Franco General Editor - Arte Direction/Design Enrique Franco Prepress & Color Correction Gabriel Daza All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publishers and Asocolflores.



Fifth Edition, September 2015 Colombian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development ISBN: 978-958-57724-1-0




007 Well Being for a Million Colombians

09 Better Flowers for a Better World Augusto Solano President of Asocolflores

013 A Privileged Land 021 A Story of Serendipity 033 The Social Impact of Floriculture 041 Environmental Leadership 053 Bringing Beauty to Life 091 Colombia, Land of Flowers 161 A Wealth of Flowers 191 International Markets 203 The Power of Flowers



Well Being for a Million Colombians

Colombia, a rich and diverse land blessed with fertile soil and tenacious people. From this rich land, Colombian flowers are grown and nurtured by the hands of our people. The flower industry has become a pillar of economic and social strength for the country. With the commitment of our growers and our field workers, Colombia has grown an industry to rival any other. An industry borne out of innovation and hard work. Today, as we glance to the future of the Colombian flower industry, we look at our most valuable resource: our workforce. Workers like Maira Baron, one of nearly 200,000 dedicated employees in our flower industry, is an example of this new face of Colombia. Maira is a devoted mother, lovingly raising two children in Madrid, Cundinamarca, a warm and naturally beautiful area of Colombia where millions of stems of roses, carnations, alstroemerias and gerberas are grown every day. Maira, like over 65,000 Colombian mothers, has participated in one of many social programs aimed at improving the lives of the flower workers. Through the hands of Maira, we are able to see that our flowers are as strong and cared for as our workers. The logistical magic of the Colombian flower industry is one of its greatest assets. The skilled teams of growers and processers, shippers and pilots, are able to take our flowers from a field in our Bogotá plateau or the Rionegro area to a supermarket in New York in a matter of hours. The complex structure is a well oiled and highly developed system that insures we can deliver the warmth of our country’s flowers to every corner of the globe. The face of Colombia, Land of Flowers, is part of our continued success as we show the world our passion and our commitment to quality. We deliver passion and romance, and we are an integral part of many of the world’s most sacred moments, from I love you to I am sorry, from births and weddings to the most tender remembrances. Our country, vast and rich, takes pride in each flower we export. Colombian floriculture is, without doubt, one of the most successful examples of entrepreneurial leadership and social responsibility in our country. Four decades is all it has taken to build an industry that generates not just wealth, but also jobs and well being for nearly one million Colombians. This is why Colombian floriculture is an important asset, because in addition to playing a major role in our country’s socio-economic life, every flower exported sends a message of hope from the Colombian people to the world, and helps build a better and stronger Colombia, Land of Flowers.



Better Flowers for a Better World AU GU STO SO LA NO  P R ESIDENT O F A SO CO LFLO R ES

In the just over fifty years since the inception of the flower industry in Colombia, it has grown rapidly in both prestige and size. Colombia is now the largest supplier of fresh flowers to the United States and the second largest exporter of fresh cut flowers in the world. Colombia has more than 18,000 acres (some 7,284 hectares) of greenhouses, mostly located along the Bogotá plateau, in Rionegro (Antioquia), and in the coffee growing belt and Valle del Cauca regions. Floriculture currently is the country’s most important non-traditional agricultural export, with sales exceeding one billion US dollars per year. These important achievements are the result of the vision, persistence and tenacity of a group of entrepreneurs who took up the challenge of developing a new agricultural activity, a concept unheard of in Colombia in the 1960s. By virtue of its ideal geographic location offering high altitude, rich soils, abundant water resources and year round sunlight, Colombia is naturally positioned to produce world class flowers. And these are precisely the features which allow Colombia to produce more than fifty different flower species and 1,500 varieties of flowers. The commitment and passion which Colombian workers have demontrated has been one of the strongest pillars in building the floriculture sector. Floriculture represents 25% of rural employment for women and generates an average of 6.25 jobs per acre (15 jobs per hectare). This constitutes the highest employment rate among agricultural activities in Colombia. The floriculture industry is proud of it’s commitment to and progress of its comprehensive socio-environmental approach to flower growing. In terms of workers’ welfare, beyond meeting Colombian legislation and regulations, the floriculture industry has built one of the most solid models of social responsibility in the nation. The key initiatives include programs in the areas of housing, education, health, conflict management, comprehensive assistance to children in childcare centers, and assistance to those who have been displaced by violence in the countryside or who are vulnerable to it. These programs benefit nearly one million Colombians, either directly or indirectly.



Colombian Flowers at the IFEX exhibition, Tokyo, Japan. Right: Japanese Flower Association members visit to Colombian farms.

The floriculture industry has also taken the lead position in international floriculture by implementing a wide range of social and environmental initiatives. Colombian producers have carried out a tremendous transformation effort to guarantee the most environmentally friendly and sustainable production processes, with due regard to workers safety and welfare, in order to produce what we consider to be the best flowers in the world. Through Florverde®, Colombian floriculture’s socio-environmental standard and certification label, more than 700 million stems of “responsibly grown flowers” are exported each year. The activities of the floriculture industry trade association go far beyond the initiatives of workers’ welfare and environmental protection. Since its creation in 1973, the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, Asocolflores, has worked with its affiliated companies on a number of fronts, including: productivity and innovation, lobbying, research and development, and gaining access to markets in countries such as the UK, Japan, Russia, and many others. This book compiles the evolution of floriculture, a sampling of its successes and some insights on its future challenges. It also pays tribute to the nearly 130,000 Colombian men and women who work in this field. Thanks to their commitment and dedication, consumers in every corner of the world have a better, kinder image of Colombia, and are offered the opportunity to improve their surroundings, emotions and spirits with the beautiful flowers produced in Colombia. In addition, this book acknowledges the nearly 350 companies that have supported the vision of the association, and of course it is an open invitation for many more to join in the effort to build a stronger floriculture industry. We hope you enjoy this editorial effort and that as you dip into its pages, you are able to appreciate as we do, the importance and impact of the fresh cut flower industry that, beyond foreign exchange, generates employment, welfare and security for Colombia.



A Privileged Land

Colombia is one of the few countries with optimum natural year-round conditions for producing the best quality flowers in the world. Thanks to its geographical location in the equatorial Tropic Zone, and its three mountain ranges that offer a wide array of topography featuring mountain plateaus, low-lying plains, and inter-Andean valleys located at between 1,500 and 3,000 meters above sea level, the country lays claim to a variety of micro-climates. These offer the ideal sunlight, humidity, temperature and fertility conditions for sustaining a robust flower-growing sector that has positioned this South American nation as the top supplier of flowers to the North American market and as the second largest flower exporter in the world. 15


Having no change of seasons in Colombia means we enjoy even hours of daylight year round; ideal for growing flowers.


The Bogotรก plateau sits 2,600 meters (8.500 feet) above sea level at 4 degrees North latitude and has an average temperature of 13 degrees centigrade; optimum climactic conditions for growing flowers.




Colombia is the third richest country in the world in water resources; its abundant rainfall coupled with its high relative humidity give a low evaporation rate which favors rainwater collection and guarantees flowers are responsibly watered.



A Story of Serendipity

Every day Colombian flowers can be found in thousands of public and private spaces around the globe, adding joy, elegance and color. They can be seen displayed in the lobbies of the most glamorous luxury hotels, in the most stylish of high-level executive and government offices, and in millions of homes throughout the world. These fresh and natural ambassadors of our country and our industry are grown in Colombia, Land of Flowers. The quality, beauty and variety of Colombian flowers have placed them in a privileged position on the global market. Indeed, Colombia is now the largest supplier of fresh cut flowers to the United States and the second largest exporter of flowers in the world, in addition to being the world’s top carnation exporter. It is astonishing to think that this vibrant and sophisticated agricultural industry was non-existent before the mid 1960´s.

How did the Colombian flower industry come to be what it is today? It is a case of serendipity… a series of unconnected events coming together accidentally and causing a sudden and unexpected outcome. Simply stated, the possibility of growing flowers in Colombia and exporting them to the United States was discovered by chance almost a the same time in different parts of the United States and in Colombia. It happened in the minds, studies and adventures of a handful of professionals with diverse backgrounds, together with visionary entrepreneurs from both countries. So who were these people , and how did they contribute to the beginning of such a formidable industry? During the Carlos Lleras presidency, serious attention was given to diversifying Colombian exports, then dominated by coffee, and PROEXPO was founded in 1966 with this goal in mind. This was the same time period that U.S. President Kennedy initiated the ‘Alliance for Progress’ program to foster economic development in Latin American countries. The U.S. government had assigned Walter Tatum, a marketing adviser, to work with the Colombian government and entrepreneurs to identify and promote new export product and businesses opportunities. Among the many studies and correspondence filling his briefcase was a research paper written




in 1964 by David Cheever, a graduate student at Colorado State University, which pointed to the Bogotá plateau, located at 2,600 meters above sea level and 4 degrees latitude, as having ideal conditions for growing high quality carnations all year round. Some of these conditions are average annual temperatures of 13 degrees centigrade, even day light throughout the year, abundant land, water and labor, good roads and close proximity of the production areas to an international airport that allowed for rapid transportation of the flowers to Miami, Florida, the primary port of entry into the United States from Latin America. David Cheever was contacted by Colombian farmers interested in his findings and he was invited to come to Bogotá to advise them on the basics of greenhouse design and construction, on how to import and propagate carnation planting material, how to produce, harvest, grade, cool, and pack flowers for the export market. These techniques were quickly learned and put in place after repeated trial and error in several pioneer farms. The first experiences in exporting flowers from Colombia were in 1965 when a group of entrepreneurs, Gabriel and Guillermo Restrepo, Alfonso Jaramillo, Antonio Angel, Anthony Canspeyer and Rafael Núñez established a flower farm, Flores Colombianas Ltd. Miguel de German-Ribon had been growing garden and cut roses for the local market on his ‘La Conchita’ farm. After hearing Cheever’s recommendations, he started growing carnations for the export market and made his first shipment in 1967. About that same time Edgar Wells, an American based in New York who had business connections in Colombia was also thinking about the possibility of growing fresh cut export flowers. He found that Peter Hannaford, a Colombian-British young graduate educated in England, was trying without much success to do the same thing Edgar Wells was thinking of with roses. The two came into contact and ended coming to Colombia and, in association with Bernardo and Camilo Herrera, started growing pompoms with the technical advice of Paul


3 1. The high Andean tropical climate of the Bogotá plateau has encouraged the design of greenhouse structures that measure up to the exacting wind, rain and hail resistance specifications necessary at this altitude. 2. Precarious in the beginning, greenhouse structures and their design became more innovative and technologically advanced to give rise to a new farming practice in Colombia. 3. From its beginnings, the Colombian flower industry set its sights on international markets. Colombian exhibitors preparing their flower samples for a show in Quebec, Canada, in 1980.

4 4. George H. W. Bush and José María (Pepe) de la Torre building the relationship between Colombian Floriculture and the U.S. government. 5. Carnations on their way to post-harvest rooms. 6. Flowers: a delicate product that calls for highly specialized transportation and distribution logistics which were non-existent in the 60’s and 70’s.



Daum, a representative of the Fred Gloeckner Company, a supplier of planting materials, including vegetative mother stock for plant propagation as well as other flower production inputs. This pioneering venture was initiated around 1967 in “Potrero-Grande” on the Herrera´s dairy farm located in the west of Bogotá relatively near the Bogotá airport. Colombian floriculture thereafter developed rapidly. Another group of visionary entrepreneurs and farmers who had started independent farms, ultimately joined together to form Colflores, a marketing alliance, with Charles Weston as its first chairman. The promoters of this effort were Miguel de Germán-Ribón with Flores La Conchita; Bernardo and Camilo Herrera with Jardines de los Andes; John, Richard, Harry and Jim Vaughan with Flores de los Andes; Juan McCallister with Jardines Bacatá, Ricardo Valenzuela and Pablo Ortega with Flores de la Sabana; Ernesto Guaqueta with Jardines del Muña; Thomas Keeler with Floramerica; Antonio Umaña with Superflores; Emilio Pizano and Pedro and Mauricio Narvaez with Royal Carnations. A few years later floriculture was introduced to Antioquia by Rodrigo Uribe, a major textile industry leader, who became interested in the Bogotá floral experience and who engaged David Cheever´s technical advisory services in 1972 to start a flower farm in the Ceja municipality called Somerca, initially owned by Coltejer the textiler, and later by Hernando Caicedo operating as Inversiones Bochica. In 1973 two other farms were established, Flores Esmeralda by the Bedout family later acquired by Peter Ulrich, and Floral by Miguel Fernando Calle, later becoming part of Inversiones Bochica. As happened in the Bogotá area, other farms soon flourished in the Rionegro valley area where the climatic conditions were very favorable for cultivating Chrysanthemums and pompons. Floriculture continued to expand. The model of Colflores, led to establishing Colcarga, an air cargo agency that consolidated and negotiated airfreight shipments with the airlines on behalf of growers. This experience


led the way to the creation in 1973 of the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, ASOCOLFLORES, with Francisco Bazzani as its first president. At that time several other Colombian entrepreneurs and young farmers became involved in the start up of large flower production and exporting companies, such as Thomas Keeler and Peter Hannaford with Floramerica, Genaro Payan with Flores del Rio; Hernado Caicedo with Inversiones Targa. and Jose Maria (Pepe) de la Torre with Florex. By the late 60’s, Colombia had created its own ‘Flower Revolution’ with an export market worth about ten million US dollars. By 2009, over 7,500 hectares of greenhouses have sprung up throughout Colombia with exports exceeding one billion US dollars. From the very beginning, flower production was focused on export sales rather than the local market. This shaped the competitive nature of the industry by forcing it to meet the highest quality, social, environmental and service standards required by international buyers. Bogotá’s neighboring rural municipalities supply abundant labor for farm work in a technological and industrial-paced setting. Indeed, the Bogotá plateau had all the ingredients to make it the ideal location for growing exportable flowers. The continued growth and success of the Colombian flower industry was made possible to a large extent by Asocolflores’ international and local advocacy involvement, as well as by the development of the Association’s market promotion, technical, environmental and social development programs, discussed later. Many participants in the floriculture production and marketing chain have played crucial roles, starting with the plant breeders and continuing with many other service and input suppliers as allied industries. They too have developed and benefited by the Colombia, land of flowers success story. In the beginning there were numerous notable breeders and propagators who introduced planting material with hundreds of varieties. The most notable among those international breeders were Yoder, Peterson,


William Sim, SB Talee, Barberet et Blanc in carnations; Meilland, Delbard and Tantau in roses; Yoder, Fides and CBA in chrysanthemums: and Royal van Zanten van Staaveren and Konst in alstroemeria. Other important allied industries are the airline carriers, cargo agencies, polyethylene plastic manufacturers ( for greenhouse covers and packing materials), corrugated box, machinery and irrigation equipment manufacturers, and agrochemical and biological inputs producers. In addition, many smaller service providers and businesses sprang up to support the industry, including local truckers, buses to provide worker transportation, work clothes providers, and catering companies to provide lunches for the employees. And professional services such as financial, technical, administrative, computer and marketing consultancies also benefitted from the floriculture sector growth.

The adventures of flying flowers overseas

Ernesto Vélez, President of the Board of Directors of Asocolflores, 2003-2010, will be remembered for his commitment and steadfast support of Colombian floriculture in both the national and international arenas. His vision to helping Colombian growers increase the sale of cut flowers and, more importantly, developing and implementing initiatives to increase the consumption of cut flowers by U.S consumers will continue to pay dividends for many years to come. Ernesto was the ultimate ambassador for the Colombian floriculture community, resulting in stronger partnerships with it’s major markets, especially the United States, their leading trading partner.

However, the flower business also had a few challenges to deal with, perhaps the largest being the need to develop an air transportation system to export such a fragile and perishable product. Colombia had experience in exporting coffee beans, sending them from the growing areas on the backs of mules, then by train and over waterways to maritime ports for shipping abroad. However, not only can the sacks of green coffee beans be transported at a leisurely pace along Colombia’s winding paths, but they can also be stored in port warehouses while waiting to be loaded on ships. Coffee can withstand the weeks of travel inside the cargo holds of ships without special refrigeration or careful handling. In contrast, if the fragile, perishable flowers are to arrive fresh and beautiful and ready for sale, they must be handled with great care and speed, whether shipped by air or by sea. In the 60’s, airplane cargo typically consisted of some passenger luggage, mail, printed publications, a few express mail packages, or small fragile consignments, and flower cargo that was flown on a space available basis. The growing volume of flower exports required more cargo space. This led to a transition from slow piston-powered planes of limited range being replaced by adapted passenger jets and later by specialized air cargo carriers with adequate facilities and configurations to load and accommodate tons of flower boxes. At times, flowers were exposed to high temperatures in Bogotá as well as in Miami that diminished their quality. It was therefore necessary to establish a ‘cold chain’ of controlled temperatures, starting with on-farm cold storage rooms, through the warehouses at the airports for product redistribution, and through every step of the air and land transportation process until reaching the retailer at the end of the market chain. One of the key and early contributors to the development of flower exports was Tampa Airlines which eventually became the leading Colombian airfreight carrier. As the market expanded, other national and international airlines also came in to transport flowers. Within a few years, flowers transformed the Eldorado airport in Bogotá into the largest air cargo port in Latin America. Flowers also came to represent the major freight category in the Miami airport. To accommodate this growth, Miami has evolved into a sophisticated hub with over one hundred importers and many services


Colombian roses are among the best in the world offering an extraordinary array of colors, shapes and sizes.


In response to the high demand for bouquets, some flower growers in Colombia have set up large bouquet-making facilities close to the farming areas in Colombia, and some importers and wholesalers in the United States have strategically located bouquet making operations close to their major customer distribution centers. In these facilities, high volumes of diverse species of flowers, fillers, and foliage are flown in from Colombia to be made up into bouquets and shipped out to retailers.

and handling facilities with cold storage warehousing, customs clearing, plant health inspection and refrigerated trucking of flowers for distribution over land throughout the U.S. The growth of the industry has led to production and distribution consolidation to three major clusters around Bogotá with 79% of Colombian production, around Medellín that comprises 17% of production, and in Miami, which has become the clearinghouse for over 88% of all flowers shipped into the U.S. market.

Diversifying production to meet multiple challenges The diversification of floriculture by growing other flower types in addition to carnations began with expansion into chrysanthemums and pompons. In addition, production expanded beyond Bogotá into another region, the valley of Rionegro in eastern Antioquia near Medellin. And the establishment of a representative trade association –ASOCOLFLORES– Association of Colombian Flower Exporters was also an important step in the progress of the floriculture industry in Colombia. All of these events were part of the solution to a series of challenges that arose in the early 70’s. Carnations, pompons and chrysanthemums (the main flowers grown at that time) were followed by a wide range of roses and later by alstroemerias, lilies, gerberas, hydrangeas, callas and many other species, each with many different varieties. Complementary “filler” flowers such as limoniums and asters, and, more recently, a wide variety of foliage and exotic tropical flowers such as bromeliads, anthuriums, heliconias and birds of paradise, were also introduced into the range of products available from Colombia. The result of this effort to diversify during the 1970’s and 80’s can now be better appreciated as Colombia currently has over fifty exportable species, many of them subdivided into hundreds of varieties and a few others into the thousands, as in the case of roses.


Colombia, Land of Flowers booth at the IPM Exhibition, Essen, Germany.

Gradually, through diversification, flower production spread from the Bogotå plateau and the Medellín area into other regions of the country, such as the Cauca Valley and the coffee region. The ever increasing new products have improved Colombia’s competitivenes in a new global market. The broad variety and high quality produced by Colombian flower growers, together with the specialization of airfreight carriers and their expertise in perishable product distribution, opened the way to exporting to Europe. The concept of diversification was also applied to the presentation and packaging of products; in addition to the traditional single flower type bunches, (commonly known as solid bunches), attractive farm-made bouquets, designed and assembled to meet the specific needs of individual retailers and their end consumers, are now available and have become one of the key offerings to the large supermarket chains. Two additional challenges faced the flower industry. First was the appearance and rapid spread of a soil borne disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. dianthi, which attacks carnations specifically. The second challenge was dealing with accusations and the imposition of an anti-dumping order by the United States Department of Commerce against Colombian growers of carnations, chrysanthemums and pompons on the grounds that the farms were selling at prices below actual production costs. These proceedings were based on an argument and methodology which, years later, were proven to be unsound and were therefore eliminated. This anti-dumping ruling and the carnation disease problem induced many growers to start growing flower types that were not affected by the legal challenges and the fungal disease, such as roses initially, and subsequently many other flower types. Founded in 1973, ASOCOLFLORES played an important role in the legal controversy surrounding compensatory measures and anti-dumping orders. The legal inquiries into dumping spanned 12 years, from 1987 to 1999, and as a result of this legal battle with the United States, ASOCOLFLORES emerged as a stronger


Colombian Flower pavilion, at the International Flower Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan.

trade association better able to defend and protect the interests of Colombian flower growers in the United States, as well as in other international markets. A positive outcome of the anti-dumping situation was the establishment of the Flower Promotion Organization, a alliance between the United States and Colombian flower growers to increase consumption of their product. In the search for new marketing outlets, Colombian flower growers continue their efforts to diversify and improve the quality of their flowers by looking for characteristics such as larger flower-head size, longer stem length, more sturdiness and extended vase life. Local efforts have started research and application in the exciting field of plant genetics, with joint Colombian and international ventures developing new carnation and alstroemeria varieties that take advantage of the specific growing conditions in Colombia. The efforts to expand into new markets is coming to fruition. With increasing quality, flowers from Colombia have earned greater acceptance in the U.K., Russian and Japanese markets. Over the years, Colombian flowers have received significant recognition, such as the Ozone Protection Awards from the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), at the Russian Flower Show, as well as at many other international trade exhibitions. In May 2007, two Colombian flower growing companies, located in the Bogotá plateau, were recognized in the category of Organizations, Association and Work Teams for outstanding development of integrated pest management (IPM) systems and their high level of environmental sustainability practices on the flower farms. Both companies are members of Asocolflores and participants in Florverde®, the independent, third party certification program that ensures not only the quality of our flowers, but adherence to strict social and environmental standards by Colombian flower growers. Variuos Growers as well, have repeatedly been awarded prices at the XV Russian Federation Flower Show held yearly in Moscow for the outstanding quality of their flowers exhibited at the “Colombia, Land of Flowers”® pavilion. 31

Tabio, located some 45 kilometers from Bogotรก, makes up part of about twenty municipalities scattered around the Bogotรก plateau. Its inhabitants shape the work force that drives the flower-growing sector. These municipalities have come to look upon their flower farms as an opportunity for stable, well-paid employment that allows its people to acquire housing and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the flower farms play an active part in the growth of their surrounding region and together serve to check the migration of rural populations into the big cities.




The Social Impact of Floriculture

The positive socio-economic impact of the industry is significant as demonstrated by the foreign exchange currency it generates and its contribution of more than one billion US dollars to the balance of trade. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly for the country, it provides a large number of direct and indirect jobs that require technically trained personnel and farm labor, paid in salaries substantially above the legal minimum wage. Among other benefits, farm workers enjoy comprehensive social security benefits, housing, education, child daycare facilities, dental care and school supplies provided for workers’ children, as well as other social and community development programs that are described in more detail later. Overall, some 130,000 stable, full time jobs are created by the flower industry, contributing directly and indirectly to the livelihood of almost one million Colombians with immediate and extensive economic and social benefits.

Social and environmental responsibility The well-being of workers and their families has been a continuing focus of the Colombian floriculture industry under the leadership of Asocolflores. The Association has developed and implemented a set of social and environmental programs with the growers that respond to their employees needs and expectations as well as those of wholesale/retail buyers and consumers in countries wherever Colombian flowers are sold. In addition to cultivating flowers, Colombian growers are also sowing the seeds to harvest future peace. In 2000, Asocolflores began a program known as Cultivating Peace in the Family that teaches workers, their families and communities to handle conflicts at home and in the workplace in a rational, non-violent way. This educational program is implemented on individual farm sites under the guidance of their own staff members trained by Asocolflores. Cultivating


Jardín de la Aurora, Suesca, Cundinamarca: one of many Colombian Flower Industry neighborhood initiatives.

Peace in the Family is an innovative way to help solve the country’s foremost and dreadful problem of internal strife and violence by tackling the problem at its roots, in many cases originating at the family level. Colombian floriculture has demonstrated that the private sector should and can contribute to the country’s quest for peace, both within and outside their companies. Cultivating Peace in the Family has motivated and taught user-friendly methods of conflict resolution to 50,000 workers, including their families and communities. This program was submitted for the National Peace Prize by the Friedrich Ebert Colombia Foundation in 2001. Again in 2008, it was one of the five community development programs nominated by Portafolio (the main Colombian business journal) for the portafolio prize from among nearly one hundred other institutional contestants. USAID and GTZ, the American and German aid agencies, have contributed to the strengthening and expansion of this program during the last four years. Another program, the School of Floriculture, was established in 2003 to train people displaced by violence with the objective of helping the transition of this vulnerable population into a new way of life and to find jobs in the flower industry or to establish their own family business. Over the course of eight months of coursework and four months of on-the-job training on Asocolflores’ member farms, they learn flower cultivating, harvesting, selecting and packing


In addition to abiding by all labor requirements and complying with all legal benefits, the flower-growing industry demonstrates its high degree of social conscience by supporting housing, education and health programs that foster a better standard of living among families with ties to the flower-growing industry. Villas del Sauce, Ganchancipa, Cundinamarca.

techniques that leads to full time employment. This program has also received USAID support and has benefited over 1,600 Colombian families. The Flowers are Home initiative guides and advises flower-farm workers in obtaining loans or in applying for government subsidies to acquire or improve their own housing. This program has stimulated the construction of thousands of new houses. To date, over 50% of the flower-growing sector workers have become homeowners and nearly 30,000 families have benefited from this program. In other programs, child daycare centers supported by the flower farms give parents, especially mothers, peace of mind while they work. Over 20,000 children between the ages of 3 months and five years of age receive day care, educational services, and any needed medical attention. Over 35,000 children benefit from oral hygiene campaigns, and 19,000 young children receive donations of basic school supplies from Asocoflores member farms. Sports, entertainment, and cultural events for the workers’ families are also organized and promoted in a joint effort with municipal governments to complement continuing education in schools and communities and generally improve their quality of life.



Daycare centers supported by flower-growing companies offer parents peace of mind as they work on the flower farms. Over 20,000 children receive education and medical attention, in addition to participating in other types childhood development programs.


Flower-growing companies recognize that a happy and congenial atmosphere makes for more creative and productive employees. Most companies provide spaces dedicated to recreation, sports and cafeterias, where men and women can relax and enjoy their breaks, building fun-loving friendships and creating camaraderie.




Environmental Leadership

The current greenhouse designs incorporate rainwater collection that supplies some of the farms’ water needs.

It is not enough to grow the best flowers in the world or to enjoy the privilege of being the largest supplier of flowers to the American market and the second largest exporter worldwide; this leadership position must be continuously maintained and improved. In a globalized world and a highly competitive business atmosphere with demanding customers and consumers, this is a constant challenge. Client requirements are made not only in terms of quality, variety and price, but also on the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of the product they are purchasing. Since it exports 97% of its production, Colombian floriculture is particularly sensitive to these types of international requirements and recognizes the need to establish programs, processes and protocols to ensure not only the quality of the product itself, but its compliance with international socio-economic and sustainability standards throughout the entire production process. To maintain a high level of competitiveness through the adherence to best agricultural practices for sustainable crops with dignified and fair human resource management, ASOCOLFLORES created Florverde® Sustainable Flowers in 1996. The Florverde® independent, third-party certification system is supported by stringent social and environmental criteria. Flower-growers who wish to implement Florverde® Sustainable Flowers agricultural practices, and thereby obtain internationally certifiable levels of quality, voluntarily adopt the program. Florverde® Sustainable Flowers standards ensure that the social programs mentioned above are applied to personnel administration and occupational health and well-being through educational activities and adherence to procedural guidelines. In labor management, the Florverde® Sustainable Flowers standard allows employment of only adult workers (no child labor), and mandates fair wages, and strict compliance with health and social security obligations established by Colombian law. With continuously improving targets, benchmarking, and training, this program fosters professional development and personal growth of all employees. Florverde® Sustainable Flowers helps farms to apply techniques that reduce the use of agro-chemicals through Integrated Pest Management (IPM), conserve water by storing and recycling rain and drainage flows and by installing drip-irrigation systems that minimize run-off and evaporation.



Left, Rainwater reservoirs enhance the landscape around growing areas and help to maintain stable groundwater levels on the Bogotá plateau by reducing the need for deep well drilling. Right, Florverde® Sustainable Flowers is a voluntary standard created by Asocolflores in 1996 to ensure continuos improvement on flower farms, through a dynamic system that measures social and environment performance. As a socio-environment label, Florverde® Sustainable Flowers responds to a set of high standards for flower production and is certified by international auditing firm SGS, and is also a GLOBALG.A.P. equivalent standard.

Landscaping of trees and shrubs around farm premises reduces the visual impact of greenhouses and other structures and buildings. It also creates windbreaks to protect the greenhouses, and when the species are properly selected, they can provide homes for beneficial insects for use in biological pest control by acting as natural barriers. Florverde® Sustainable Flowers has designed and recommends suitable procedures for disposal and proper use of organic matter through composting, as well disposal practices as for non-biodegradable waste. The certification system monitors compliance with flower quality standards, human resource management, and internationally accepted environmental responsibility practices. It also trains the flower growers to pass through stringent certification audit procedures through independent third party verification. Florverde® Sustainable Flowers currently enjoys significant recognition among flower importers, distributors, retailers, and, increasingly, among end consumers by assuring compliance with good practices in social sustainability and environmental responsibility. In July of 2008, Florverde® Sustainable Flowers became a GLOBALG.A.P. (the Global Alliance for Good Agricultural Practices) equivalent standard which recognizes certified flower and produce growers selling to supermarkets in over 80 countries. Florverde® Sustainable Flowers and GLOBALG.A.P. standards are now equivalent and mutually accepted by all trading partners. The GLOBALG.A.P. seal and standard is one of the most important and recognizable certifications in the world that promotes sustainable agricultural practices.

Ceniflores, a leader in research In order to maintain the high level of competitiveness required in such a rapidly changing and competitive business as flower growing, research and innovation are factors of utmost importance. In 2004, Asocolflores formalized the research that it had been supporting by creating the Colombian Centre for Innovation in Floriculture, CENIFLORES. Based on the priorities defined by the growers, the Center has organized research and extension programs in such areas as integrated pest management emphasizing biological and botanical control methods, optimizing the use of natural resources through recycling of water and nutrients, increasing process efficiency by measuring the appropriate variables and providing information for decision-making, and developing protocols for shipping flowers by sea. 45

Landscaping on flower farms is an integral part the flower growers’ commitment to the environment, so it is customary to plant actual gardens and live, natural barrier fences around greenhouses. In the picture on the right, a row of hydrangeas dresses up a greenhouse while providing flowers for export. At the end of the harvesting process, organic waste material is recycled in a careful composting process that enriches the soil’s fertility and reduces the application of chemical fertilizers.



Breeders and growers have become conscious of the responsibility they have toward the environment and have taken an interest in creating environmentally friendly varieties. Such is the case of this gypsophila on the left that is disease-resistant.



Following procedures recommended by Florverde Sustainable Flowers速, flower growers benefit from the application of plant-health control techniques, such as the vacuum removal of insects on plants, and natural aeration of crops to keep up optimal humidity levels.



Flower farming area to the north of the Bogotรก plateau. Approximately 6,000 (14,825 acres) of the 200,000 hectares (494,210 acres) on the plateau have been groomed to grow flowers.



Bringing Beauty to Life

On a rose-breeders trial farm, flower growers select which varieties they should plant to meet customer demand and to respond to changing market trends.

When a person’s face lights up with emotion and pleasure in the presence of a rose, a carnation or a beautiful flower arrangement in the intimacy of their home, office, or at an event, it is the last step in a long, complex production process begun many months before. In the highly controlled setting of bio-technological laboratories in diverse parts of the world, certified breeders produce varieties from genetic material subject to international intellectual property rights that are acquired and imported by growers to be propagated locally. Pushing ahead with cutting-edge trends in bio-technology, in vitro meristemic micropropagation has made in-roads into the industry, allowing breeders to develop new varieties such as green or even black roses and blue carnations. The small starter plant is carefully transplanted into greenhouses where it grows under cover with controlled temperature and humidity, undergoes soil and leaf nutritional analyses, and is tended by expert hands to ensure vigorous and healthy plant and flower development. Drip irrigation systems provide each plant with an exact dose of water and nutrients, optimizing the use of water and soil resources. Flowers are harvested daily according to strict quality parameters. After harvesting, the flowers are sent to the postharvest area where they are graded based on the lengths and weight required by the client, and then tied into bunches or bouquets for packing and cooling where the product enters into the ‘cold chain’. In order to guarantee the flowers’ freshness, all parts of the distribution chain, such as land and air transportation, customs clearance, and ground transport to the distributors and retailers must also preserve the cool temperatures at which they left the farms. At port of entry, the flowers go through their own process of “immigration”, undergoing plant health and customs inspections, and then quality inspections are conducted by the importers before shipping them to their buyers, including wholesalers, florists, and supermarket chains. 53

Flower-growing, more than any other crop, is subject

Initially, flower cuttings are planted in sterile beds in a

to the cycles of demand that come and go with the

climate-controlled atmosphere under constant humidity.

seasons and fashions. The demand for roses, for

Once they root, the seedlings are transplanted to

example, peaks during special occasions such as

greenhouses where their entire growth cycle is individually

Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Therefore, flower

controlled, receiving special attention to their quality and

growers employ strict production charts that establish

uniformity. Soil and plant samples are periodically taken to

which varieties to plant, when to plant, when to

evaluate the nutritional status of each and every plant

harvest, and when to ship.

to be able to ensure optimal development.




Direct planting or hydroponic crops fit the growing needs of every plant variety. The climate inside the greenhouse offers ideal conditions, as much for the development of the plants as for providing a good working environment.



Agronomists work with trained and qualified workers to keep a constant eye on the basic growth process and formation of each one of the plants, paying close attention to quality and plant health.


Based on scheduling with production charts, roses are cut at different stages according to individual market preferences. This cutting process takes place in the early morning hours to keep the roses from dehydrating or condensation from collecting on the petals. Each type of flower demands a special cutting technique.




Hand harvesting is the first step in the quality control and selection process and is determined by size, color, and degree of bud-opening. 63


An intricate cross grid of strings helps hundreds of thousands of plants to grow straight.


No matter how many millions of plants are grown, each one gets special care from people who not only value their jobs, but have a passion and pride for maintaining high quality standards.



Eastern Antioquia near Medellín has Colombia’s second cluster of fresh cut flower farms. The municipalities of La Ceja, Rionegro, and the Llanogrande region offer ideal climactic conditions and sunlight for growing gerbera daisies, chrysanthemums and pompons, and a diversity of novelty flowers. ‘Los Paisas’, as the inhabitants of Antioquia are called, have enjoyed a long history of flower culture, as can be appreciated in the colorful gardens that typify even the humblest of rural homes, as well as in the “silletero” parade that has been celebrated in the city of Medellín since 1958. (Left), Colombian flower worker, on a Rionegro farm.


Gerberas are yet another high-quality flower grown in the Colombian Andes. Their long stems, full size and consistency, combined with the wide variety of bright colors they come in, have helped to boost their demand in international markets.


Gerberas are one of the most desired flowers for floral arrangements because of their broad range of colors and large flower heads. Gerberas resemble enormous daisies and can be used together to make lovely bouquets.


Alstroemerias are extremely versatile flowers. The wide variety of colors and shapes available make them ideal for creating seasonal flower arrangements, as well as for designing modern and contemporary floral designs. The alstroemeria, also called the ‘Lily of the Incas’, is a genus that originated in South America.


Flower farms develop their own suitable growing methods. During harvest and transporting, a farm in Antioquia uses covered tow carts, while on the Bogotรก plateau another farm makes use of a strong plow horse.


Towed along by a tractor or moved along a cable, flowers make their way to the grading rooms.

Harvesting is generally performed by women who select, cut, weigh and bundle up bunches that are then sent on to post-harvest rooms. Each bunch must comply with the demands of each international market. In some cases, sorting is done by the length of the stem, and in others according to the size of the flower head.


Sorted, packed and stored at the proper temperature before being shipped abroad, flowers can retain their quality and stay fresh until they are placed in the hands of the customer. 82


Flowers make their first step into the “cold chain� in the post-harvest rooms, a process that is maintained at every step until the flowers are purchased by the consumer. The manufacture of flower-specific packaging materials is another industry that adds jobs to the production chain.


Twenty flights or more a day depart from the Eldorado airport in Bogotรก, destined for international ports such as Miami, London, Amsterdam and Tokyo. A 747-400F plane, such as the one on the left, can hold up to 5,200 boxes, which is 115 tons of flowers.



Sorted to fit the needs of different markets, these roses are ready to fill the long cardboard boxes known as “tabacos”. “Proconas” are a type of packaging that allows fresh flowers to be transported in water, destined for more demanding customers.



Colombia, Land of Flowers

The fertility of the land, the purity of the Andean water, and the bright tropical sun infuse each flower, and carefully cultivated by expert hands, results in a multitude of vibrant colors and high quality for the indulgence of the world. The Colombian flower-growing industry took its first steps as a worldwide exporter, breaking into the U.S. market over four decades ago with carnations, joined a few years later by roses. Today, the product portfolio of this flourishing sector embraces over 50 species of flowers and innumerable varieties that undergo constant rebirth to meet new and evolving trends, consumer taste and worldwide horticultural developments. Spurred on by the dynamics of markets in countries spread across several continents, breeders develop novel varieties and go on to perfect classics that have enjoyed timely acceptance among specific niche clients. 91

Roses From snowy white, to blue, purple and nearly black, roses represent a noble tradition of beauty that dates back from before biblical times; it is entirely probable that roses were part of the floral repertoire in the ancient Hanging Gardens in Babylonia. The on-going development of the species and its varieties, time and again rekindles the natural allure of this flower, without a doubt preferred over all others. In 1978, Colombia began to expand its rose crops and for over three decades this product has grown considerably in export value, now ranking with carnations as the leading export crop. 93

Iguana, a bicolor orange rose seen on the left, is another Colombian rose variety awarded at the Moscow Flower Show for its quality and size.

From top to bottom, a variety of large-headed roses such as Fiesta, Sweet Dolimiti, Sweet Berry and Wild Topaz.


Colombian hands see to every detail during the high-quality rose production process, a process more than apparent in this stunning bunch of Blush roses.

Colombian flower growers keep up with worldwide market trends by introducing rose varieties such as this bicolor hot pink Purple Cezanne (left), or the largeheaded, Moody Blues (right) or the outstanding Palm Peach (below right).


Known in the market as a Consumer Bunch, this presentation of roses are made up for the American market featuring type-2 cut roses, which come in a tighter cut, in comparison to the open-cut ones destined for the Russian market, where bigger blooms are preferred. Coral, fuchsia and orange colors in three particularly lovely rose varieties for the Russian market. (Right)



Colombian flower growers have managed to consistently produce outstanding roses with up to meter-long stems, (40 inches) as seen in this variety called Freedom which has become a true classic of the red-rose market for over five years.


The preferences of each individual destination market dictates the size and bud-opening selection specifications for roses at harvest time. For example, these large-headed open-cut flowers are preferred by the Russian market.

This white - green rose variety, Mondial, is available in 40 to 100 centimeter stems.

With products like this 50 cm (20 inches) rose bouquet made for the US market, Colombian growers have the chance to include other complementary fillers such as silver eucalyptus. In addition, value is added to the bouquet with the decorative wrap and the design skills of the workers to create a truly beautiful art form.



Flower breeders create new varieties of roses to satisfy the ever-changing needs and demands of consumers. Such is the case of this new beautiful rose "Novia", and the one on the left as well, "Deep Purple".

Spray Roses have clusters of blooms 2.5 to 5 cms (1 to 2 inches) in diameter. There is a great variety of spray roses available in almost every color of the rainbow, such as this hot pink variety. Garden Roses, on the left, are also grown in the fertile soils of the savannah of BogotĂĄ. These sweet “Julietâ€? fragranced roses inspire some quite different feeling than standard roses. These are nostalgic, unplanned, old fashioned beautiful and vintage. Colombian Garden Roses are gaining in popularity at a good pace.

Bicolor carnations and other novelty colors, such as these three-color carnations produced by Colombian flower growers, have contributed to reinforcing Colombia’s position as the premier supplier of carnations to the world. From left to right Dolce Nero, Nobbio and Antille.

Carnations Colombia is the world’s leading producer of carnations. The carnation was the first flower that Colombian flower growers propagated and exported to the United States in 1965. Today, carnations continue to be one of the most important flowers on the international flower market because of its incredible variety of colors that enable it to take on many different roles in flower arrangements.The standard carnation is an important component in any bouquet. It can also be sold individually at the retail level, usually together with some foliage or a little baby’s breath. Bicolor carnations and other novelty colors grown in Colombia, as well as the large variety of mini carnations available, have contributed to reinforcing Colombia’s position as the premier supplier of carnations to the world. 111

Antigua is one more Colombian-grown flower variety among several others awarded medals at the International Flower Exhibition, Moscow, Russia.

This burgundy-colored variety Novio速 Black Heart, recently won an award at the Moscow Flower Show in Russia. Next to it, a contrasting green carnation named Green Chic.

International breeders have found Colombia to have an ideal blend of soil, climate and light where their most recent creations perform exceptionally. Colombians keep ahead of the latest varieties and color trends on the flower market. From left to right Chelo, Cumbia and Notre Dame



Spray carnations make up 33% of the carnation export market thanks to its demand, not only for bouquets, but also for consumer bunches in solid colors for the American market. These beautiful spray carnations, Spitfire and Cuba, also are in high demand for special occasions in Spain and in the growing Japanese market as well.



Chrysanthemums Originating in Europe, Asia and South Africa, chrysanthemums come in hundreds of different species with scores of colors and shapes that range from the simple daisies to pompons, and culminate in exotic spider varieties. The addition and expansion of chrysanthemums are part of the effort Colombian flower growers have made to diversify and broaden their assortments in an industry where, for years, roses and carnations predominated. 119


Chrysanthemums, known simply as Mums, have a single bloom per stem. These are available in a wide array of astonishing colors and shapes.


Chrysanthemums come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes to use as the focal point of floral arrangements.


Pompons or spray chrysanthemums have multiple laterals with one or more flowers per lateral. Colombian farms have become truly great allies for chrysanthemum breeders as it is here they find ideal harvesting conditions for their varieties to grow larger and brighter in color.


Brilliant colors and a huge diversity of shapes make pompoms ideal flowers for the modern florist.

The prickly shapes of chrysanthemums and their colors make these flowers perfect for experimenting with creative new arrangements. Demand for pompons is without a doubt a growing potential as chrysanthemums are no longer being used as mere complementary flowers. Designers and consumers have learned to display them in diverse and innovative ways.


Alstroemerias Alstroemerias are extremely versatile flowers. The wide variety of colors and shapes they come in make them perfect for creating seasonal flower arrangements, as well as for fashioning modern and contemporary floral designs. Colombian growers are world leaders in the production of alstroemerias. It is estimated that there are between 200 and 250 hectares in Colombia dedicated to growing this flower, which is becoming more popular every day around the world. The majority of Colombian alstroemerias are exported to the United States and Canada, although lately many growers have begun to export them to Europe, especially to the United Kingdom, where it is gaining a stronger foothold in that fresh cut flower market.


The Alstroemeria features multiple dangling trumpet-shaped flowers. Countless hybrids and varieties of this flower are available year-round. Long-lasting, vibrant colors make Alstroemerias a top choice for flower arrangements. On the left, Avalange.


On a flower farm on the Bogotå plateau, one can appreciate the wealth of colors the alstroemeria has to offer, with shades ranging from classic yelloworange to whites and violets that stand out from the plant’s bright green foliage. Bellow the alstroemeria variety Rembrandt can be appreciated at full bloom.




Gerbera species have a large center with striking two-lipped ray florets in yellow, orange, white, pink or red. The center, which has the appearance of a single flower, is actually hundreds of individual flowers.

Gerberas The gerbera is a flower that is gaining increasing status on international flower markets. Its vibrant, exceptionally stylish and versatile colors for arranging flowers for any occasion set a happy, fresh note, and bouquets made with this flower send the just the right message of happiness. 139

The Spider gerbera series add variety to the core gerbera offering and attracts attention at retail

The gerbera has a large head with eye-catching flowers in infinite shades of yellow, orange, white, pink and red: the eye of the flower can be dark, as well as yellow, light green and even white. Frequently, on the same flower you can see petals in different colors. This is the fifth most used cut flower in the world after the rose, carnation, chrysanthemum and the tulip.

With firm orderly petals or irregular ones, of uniform or contrasting colors, gerbera daisies have the ability to surprise with their flash of causal festive personality.


A mixed bouquet displaying an assortment of yellow and green pompons, red lilies, red and orange gerbera daisies, red roses, and bicolor pink and fuchsia carnations along with green fillers, and even a little hypericum.

Bouquets Historically, cut flowers sold as solid-color bunches dominated the Colombian export scene. But the markets have evolved and new possibilities for satisfying the demand for floral products have arisen that offer the consumer increased variety as well as practicality. Bouquets are flower arrangements especially designed to take advantage of seasonal trends, capture the mood of a celebration, a frame of mind of the consumer, or even the color range of a decorated setting. Bouquets provide an opportunity for flower growers to make the most of their production capacity to grow distinctive and complementary flowers to be marketed as an creative and imaginative product of the highest handcrafted quality. 147

The development and growth of the bouquet market not only adds value to the Colombian flowergrowing production processes, but more importantly, contributes to mass consumption of flowers as its main trade channels are grocery and large retail outlet stores. Consequently, the per capita consumption of flowers in the United States is expected to increase in the long term, signaling important sector growth with immediate benefits in terms of jobs not only for Colombia, but also for the United States.



While fashioning their bouquets, bouquetmakers follow fundamental design rules, showcasing a focal flower and surrounding it with secondary flowers called fillers, then adding foliage in different textures generically called “greens�. Arrangements and floral designs harmoniously intermingle colors, shapes and textures to produce an engaging effect of color and emotion.


A large and colorful bouquet with an ample variety of classic flowers and greens. On the right, three ingredients that add a touch of brightness and color: a green spray chrysanthemum, a lilic stock and a hot pink spray rose.

Flowers as diverse as pompons, greens, Aegean wallflowers, lavender, and spray roses team up to create novelty bouquets.

The secret to arranging a bouquet is in the use of color; multi-colored arrangements, others inspired by a particular hue, and even starkly monochromatic designs are often seen. Flower arranging can bring out anyone’s sense of aesthetics and artistic expression.



These are a good example of a one-color scheme or monochromatic bouquets, paticularly aimed at Fall and Christmas events, weddings and celebrations. Bouquets like these are often being manufactured directly by Colombian Farms in their post-harvest rooms. On the left, a contemporary composition with Amsterdam速 roses, Hypericum and asters.


A contemporary and european flower arrangement with a blend of garden roses (Carpediem), craspedia and hydrangeas


Fuchsias and roses dominate the color palette in this attractive arrangement of gerbera and alstroemerias, bearing a unique touch of green “Poco Loco�, developed from a gerbera.

This arrangement designed for a big, colorful bouquet and specifically intended to add warmth to large open spaces, shows classic flowers, such as salmon-colored carnations, yellow freesias and white pompons. On the right, classic flowers such as roses, carnations and alstroemerias stand out even more with complements like the leather fern and goldenrod from flower farms in Antioquia.

Exotic or novelty cut flowers have seen an increasing demand in the market. They look natural and romantic, and often look as if blooms were gathered from the garden. This giant asters on the left, as many other available novelty flowers, add a distinctive spirit to bouquets, as a great assortment of new and unique flowers begin to take the place of the traditional rose and gypsophila bouquets or plain chrysanthemum bunches.

A Wealth of Flowers The boom in the bouquet market has opened up the opportunity of growing summer flowers and a greater variety of novelty flowers. Delphiniums, ranunculus, fresias, snapdragons, limoniums, spray stock, dianthus, campanulas, sunflowers and many other ornamental cut-flowers are now regular crops, at many Colombian farms. Mixed with more well-known and popular flowers, these complementary species and varieties now boost the repertoire of designs and aesthetic possibilities of the so called farm-direct bouquets crafted directly on the farms in Colombia. 161

Although difficult to breed, there are now Colombian growers raising spectacular specimens of this flower. Freesias are one of the few really fragrant flowers and carry with them a promising future for Colombian growers.


Snapdragon blossoms, on the left, appear atop tall, hardy and brightly colored. These are excellent large mass flowers with a bold airy quality. Aster Sorel, on the right, is another example of novelty flowers that are now used in contemporary floral arrangements


Lily blossoms are often fragrant and come in an assortment of colors ranging from whites to bright hues. Some come in elegant bronze and even nearly black. Their large open flowers display spots and brush strokes on their long lasting blooms. A good number of farms in Colombia are now growing Oriental and Hybrid Lilies.

The calla, is a great flower to use in solid-color consumer bunches or bouquets. It’s also available as a mini calla.


Hydrangea crops have existed in Colombia for many years, although, cultivation areas have increased significantly lately as demand for this type of flower grows with the bouquet market boom.



Colombian farms have ideal weather conditions for hydrangeas crops. These large blooms for export have gained a vast market around the United States and Europe as well.


Triton Delphinium is one of several varieties of delphinium available in the market. This particular type has been in high demand, not only for its strong, tall stems, but for the evenly arranged single florets. Delphinium provides a vertical element to flower arrangments as well as for solid color arrangements.

Two varieties of Delphinium show the versatility and beauty of these flowers that breathe life and volume into the most exquisite floral creations.


Sinensis Cherry, a new Japanese breed, is suitable for bouquets and solid bunches, adding a touch of light and texture to flower designs. This particular filler has no fragance, making it attractive for a range of applications.


Freshly cut Amaryllis is a large, trumpet-shaped bloom that makes dramatic bouquets. Amaryllis as a cut flower is a great option for sending cut flowers rather than bulbs. These blooms take about a week or so to open, and are now used in arrangements throughout the year, besides their traditional use during the Christmas holidays.


Tropical flowers that grow amidst the rain and fog of the Andean forest milieu between 600 and 1,500 meters (4,920 feet) above sea level, are richly exotic species that delight with their exuberance of shape and color.


Heliconias These large tropical flowers are natives to Central and South America and some islands of the South Pacific. Colombian farms at warmer climates have expanded their areas to grow this fairly easy cultivation crop. The spectacular presence of heliconias have made them favorite garden subjects throughout the world. They have become increasingly popular as decorative flowers, especially in those regions where they cannot be grown in the garden. 177


With the same dedication and care that Colombians produce the finest of coffees in the world, the people of the Coffee Zone cultivate and select novel varieties of heliconias that never cease to amaze the most demanding flower lovers around the world.



Heliconia species have shown their great potential to be used as cut flowers due to their beauty, rusticity and good postharvest longevity.



Greens Greens become complementary elements of great aesthetic value in arrangements and bouquets that hold promise for decorating possibilities. Many of the species are field grown under the open sky and evoke the diversity of plant life in the Colombian Andes where some of nature’s most beautiful flowers grow. 183


Located in the intertropical zone, Colombia is a green country, where generous plantain and ginger leaves are used to wrap white cheeses, tamales and guava sweets… palm leaves shade peasant huts… sugar cane rushes are woven to make striking two-toned straw hats… it’s a country where green is infused into the lives of the people in endless ways, just as these dracena (left) and cordyline leaves go together with Colombian flowers in their most attractive combinations.



Under open skies foliage crops are at home in their natural habitat.


Hypericum, also known as St. John’s-wort or coffee bean berry, is available year-round, mostly in red and green. Hypericum is a great complement for seasonal bouquets and works wonderfully for some winter arrangements because of its sturdiness.


Beauty is in the details and greens like bluperum give a touch of grace that lend excellence to the art of floral expression.



International Markets

Gunnar Kaj, a Swedish designer well known for his floral designs for the Nobel Award Ceremony, during a demonstration with Colombian flowers at a Flowers Exhibition & Commercial Agenda. Stockholm, Sweden.

Depending on seasonal demand, between twenty and thirty airplanes take off daily from Colombia loaded with between 20,000 and 25,000 boxes of carefully packed flowers of various flower species, colors, all of a quality level that for almost four decades has set Colombian flowers apart from other flower producing areas. About 80% of the Colombian flower production goes to the American and Canadian markets through Miami. The remaining 20% is flown to Europe to supply select markets in England, France, Italy, Germany, Russia and Japan, among others. Cheerful blossoms of roses, carnations, gerberas, alstroemerias, pompons, chrysanthemums and many other species grown in “Colombia, Land of Flowers” dominate retail florist shop´s windows, floral designer´s shops and supermarket displays on all continents.

Mutually beneficial relationship Colombia is the largest and most important supplier of flowers to the United States; six out of every ten flowers sold have been cultivated in Colombia In the U.S. over 100 Miami-based importers, more than 30 trucking companies, 600 floral wholesalers, 15,000 retail florists, and 24,000 supermarkets are all dependent on flowers grown in Colombia. The “Colombian-American Connection” is a win-win partnership that benefits thousands of people working in the floral industry in both countries. ASOCOLFLORES represents the interests of the Colombian flower growers abroad. To this end it has assumed a proactive role within the international floral industry by maintaining a close relationship with numerous organizations, many of which it also actively participates in. Asocolflores has established strong relationships with the trade associations and organizations that represent the various segments that make up the floral industry. Both Asocolflores and its member farms have actively served on committees and boards of directors of many of these groups to further the goals of the floral industry and to represent the needs and viewpoints of the Colombian flower industry. These organizations include: SAF- Society of American Florists WF&FSA – Wholesale Florist and Florist Supplier Association PMA – Produce Marketing Association FPO – Flower Promotion Organization 191

Since 1991, Proflora, the Colombian flower show has consolidated itself as the most important cut flower international fair in the Americas.


AFIF – Association of Floral Importers of Florida AFE – American Floral Endowment ICFG – International Cut Flower Growers’ Association AIPH – International Association of Horticulture Producers UF – Union Fleur, the European Flower Importers’ Association Close ties and joint programs have been established with other international organizations related to the international floral industry, including: APHIS – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US government ASHS – American Society of Horticultural Science BGI – German Flower Importers’ Association CCFC - California Cut Flower Commission ESA – Entomological Society of America FITA – Flower Import Trade Association of the United Kingdom JFTA – Japan Flower Trade Association Through its activities in Colombia and around the world, ASOCOLFLORES participates with its members in promoting improvement and consumption consistent with demanding international markets by financially contributing to interinstitutional marketing and promotion programs abroad. These efforts have opened doors across five continents allowing Colombia to show its friendliest face through its flowers. In addition, identifying and responding to current market trends, understanding the symbolic and emotional elements each society identifies with flowers and communicating this to its members are important activities of Asocolflores. Colombian flower growers attend the most important flower shows in the United States, England, Europe, Russia and Japan to present their most important flower varieties. Since 1991 Proflora, the Colombian Flower trade show has earned the position as the most important international cut flower fair-trade event in the Americas. This is the foremost exhibition of the floriculture industry attracting more than 1,500 international buyers from 60 countries. Proflora is the ideal venue for networking, bringing buyers and sellers together, and establishing new business opportunities.


Memorial Day 2015. Arlington National Cemetery adorned with over 120,000 flowers from California, Ecuador and Colombia. A Memorial Day Flowers Initiative.


Robert Black at Ford Talent Agency with a stunning arrangement in celebration of Women’s Day. Scottsdale, Arizona. An sponsored event by Asocolflores, CalFlowers, 1-800 Flowers, Bloomnet and FTD Flowers.

United States The United States was the first destination for Colombian flower exports and its market preferences, in great part, determine production. ASOCOLFLORES works with the various trade groups representing the American floral industry and attends its flower shows and events. This allows Colombian flower growers to develop products and programs that meet the needs and expectations of one of the most dynamic markets in the world, and the most important for Colombian flower exports. 195


Colombia, Land of Flowers pavilion at the


International Flower Show, Moscow, Russia.

Russia is one of the emerging markets with tremendous potential and some Colombian flower growers are focusing their production to meet the demands of consumers in this country, which appreciates large headed, long-stemmed roses, strong colors and bicolor novelties. 197

International Flower Trade. Vijhuizen, Holland.

Europe In the European market, Colombian flower growers have many advantages over the competition with its wide range of species and year-round available varieties. 199

Anaya Tsubaki at the Colombia Land of Flowers brand name launch, Tokio

Asia Colombian growers continue developing new markets as far away as Japan where large-headed flowers are appreciated. Top quality carnations and roses are being shipped to wholesalers in major cities in Asian countries. Colombian flower growers expect to expand their export horizons, and to this end are actively participating in international flower shows with the support of ProColombia and Asocolflores. 200

The first Lady of Japan, Akie Abe, lent her gracious presence during Asocolflores’ campaign to pay tribute to Japanese women in their roles as wives, mothers and family mainstays with the gift of a Colombian flower. Asocolflores chose to kick start its floral meme just before Good Married Couples’ Day by handing out over 30,000 Colombian flowers at Tokyo’s Yurakucho Station in November 2014. Below, Colombian Pavillion, Goyang International Horticulture Show, Korea.


Flowers communicate positive emotions. Flowers bring comfort and peace in times of sorrow and need. Flowers contribute to positive emotional, psychological and physiological well-being and behavior. Flowers breed creativity and ideas. Flowers are not only important for the beauty they hold, but for their power over the heart, body and soul. This is the true power of flowers. Harvard University The Journal of Evolutionary Psychology Rutgers University Texas A&M University 202

The Power of Flowers

Intuitively, we’ve always known the powerful emotional, psychological and physiological benefits flowers convey and provide, but recent university research and studies have now clinically proven our suppositions as correct. Dr. Nancy Etcoff, a clinical psychologist at Harvard University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, conducted behavioral research which demonstrated that flowers in the home for even a few days evoked strong results such as a lessening of frustration, depression, stress and anxiety, increased compassion, and evoked greater enthusiasm and energy. An article in The Journal of Evolutionary Psychology titled “Flowers: an environmental approach to positive emotion” reviewed three studies coordinated by Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones, director of the laboratory on human development at Rutgers University. It was discovered that flowers generate happy emotions and induce positive social behavior. It was also found that the presence of flowers stimulates contact among families and friends. Another Haviland-Jones study demonstrated that women, as well as men, who received flowers held longer eye contact during conversation and drew nearer, and smiled with greater sincerity during their interviews with the researchers, as compared to those who did not receive flowers. One of Dr. Haviland-Jones’ findings in regards to the effects of flowers on older adults signaled a favorable influence on their mood and an improvement in memory. Further, Dr. Roger Ulrich, researcher at Texas A&M University, conducted an eight month study on the effect of flowers in commercial and business settings and concluded that the presence of flowers in the work place stimulated creativity, which implies an important advantage given that, according to Ulrich, “virtually all work in our modern-day economy is strongly based on good ideas”.




We are very grateful with all the people who helped us put this book together and offered support, in particular: Alberto Bermúdez Alejandra Bejarano Alvaro Camacho Alvaro Ferro Ana María Restrepo Andrés Toro Andrea Gutiérrez Antonio Nariño Ann Kauffman Astrid Duque Aydeé de Toulemonde Camilo Herrera Carlos Arturo Nariño Carlos Mc Allister Carlos Manuel Uribe Carolina Botero Carolina Estrada Catalina Arango Catalina Jiménez. Celiar Noreña Claudia Navas Christian Luchau Cristian Serna Charles Weston Daniel Vélez David Abuchar David Cheever Diego Tobón Ernesto Mendoza Eliseo Restrepo Federico Cock Correa

Federico Sierra Fernando Fonseca Fernando Ruiz Frank Jordan George Ackler Germán Lacouture Germán Samper Giselle Torres Gonzálo Aristizabal Jaime Jaramillo Jaime Rodríguez Jan Willem van Gulik Joaquín de la Torre John Vaughan Jorge Eduardo Umaña Jorge Cháves José Alfredo Hernández José Antonio Restrepo José Ignacio Villegas José Fernando Echeverri José Luis Suárez Juan Alejandro Guáqueta Juan Camilo Herrera Juan Camilo Hoyos Juan Carlos Hannaford Juan Fernando Bedoya Juan Fernando Gómez Juan Fernando Salazar Juanita Jaramillo Juanita McAllister Julio Enrique Amador

Leyla Pinzón Lourdes Reyes Luis Mariano Botero María Eugenia Anzola María Isabel Gutiérrez Mario Soto Marta Morales Miguel Pinedo Mónica Pieschacón Nohora Iregui Pablo Restrepo Pamela Duperly Patricia Cárdenas Peter Beyfus Peter Hannaford Rafael de Ureña Rafael Umaña Rebecca A. Lee Richard Franklin Richard Vaughan Rocio Naranjo Rodrigo Rolón Roxana Londoño Sandra Preciado Santiago Madriñán Sofía Ortíz Sonia de la Espriella Stan Pohmer Thomas Toulemonde Tulio Angel Verónica Herrera



COVER PHOTOS Andrés Caycedo Diego Velásquez: 8, 37, 66, 74, 92, 94, 100, 103, 107, 110, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 116, 117, 118, 122, 124, 125, 131, 132, 134, 138, 140, 142, 146, 149, 151, 152, 153 bottom, 157, 158, 159, 162, 166, 188, 189 Augusto Cartagena: 3, 4, 45, 46 top , 49, 56, 57 top 64, 67, 68, 75,77, 78, 80, 81, 82 center, 82 right, 85 top, 109, 129, 141, 144, 170,171, 178, 179, 181, 185 bottom left Andrés Caycedo: 17, 42, 63, 85 bottom, 90, 95, 97, 104, 125,127, 128, 140, 153, 160, 161,165, 173, 174, 182, 185 top Jairo Cadavid: 11, 22, 23, center, 27 right, 28, 29, 40,47,48 right, 54, 57 bottom, 69, 76,79, 83,84, 120, 121, 126, 165,176, right,185,192, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202. Giovanny Rodríguez: (Courtesy of Vistaflor) 25 left, 88, 98,150, 155, 167,175, 185 top and bottom right, 186, 195 left, 196 bottom. Julian Lineros: 6, 39, 44, 52, 54, 60, 61, 62, 70, 72, 73, 96, 133 Ramón Giovanni: 59, 88 top, 105, 145, 164, 204, 206. Sergio Serrano: 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37 bottom, 38. Jorge Gamboa:10, 37 top, 54 left, 55, 82 left Germán Montes: 176 left and center, 180, 184, 187. Camilo Morales: 25 right, 27 Federico Henao: 202. Carlos Sastoque 18, 50. Olga Lucía Jordan:14. John Beetar: 20. Yanan Li: 28, 190. Winston HR: 195 Daniel Vélez, 136 Alexandra Farms, 108 Mario Germán Losada, 106, 125, 164, 168,169, 184. Courtesy of Cargolux: 25 center, 86, 87, Courtesy of Ball SB: 172 Courtesy of Excellence Roses: 46 bottom, 58, 102 Courtesy of La Conchita:137 Courtesy of Heliconian Flowers, Carlos Alberto Gómez:177 Shutter Stock, 89 Dummen Orange, 154, 156,198 Multiflora, 148.


Ministr y of Agriculture an d Rural D e v elopm ent Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, Asocolf lores Car rer a 9A No 90-53 (57-1)257 9311 Bogotรก, Colombia www.asocolflores.or g




Colombian Flowers  

The 2015 edition of Colombian Grown, the hard cover al-around book on Colombian Flowers, its players, leaders and impact on the local indust...

Colombian Flowers  

The 2015 edition of Colombian Grown, the hard cover al-around book on Colombian Flowers, its players, leaders and impact on the local indust...