Flower industry hit hard during busiest time of year as businesses, churches cancel large orders


ORRTANNA, Pa. (WHTM) — It isn’t just retail or food and beverage workers who are hurting during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown: so are flower and greenhouse businesses.

Many are seeing canceled orders and an overstock of plants at the beginning of their peak money-making season.

This spring is proving to be quite different for countless growers, including Musselman Greenhouses in Adams County which estimates its Easter sales are already down about 40%.

“The spring season is usually what makes or breaks most greenhouse and garden center businesses,” said Aimee Rohrbach, Musselman Greenhouse’s sales manager. “These plants were planted in October and November before any of us heard the word COVID-19.”

Ninety-five percent of her Easter crops were sold by March 16, she said, and then overnigh, a blow to business, and that government shutdown.

Now, half of her estimated 7,000 Easter Lilies sit unsold.

“A lot of orders were cancelled due to the fact that businesses were shut down and churches were cancelled,” Rohrbach said. “We count on the influx of cash from Easter, Mother’s Day and the entire spring season to see us through the rest of the year.”

Hurting sales mean no capital projects, equipment upgrades or expansions this year.

Rohrbach knows they aren’t alone, and that other garden centers are hurting too.

The industry’s combined troubles, trickling down and also impacting fundraisers for local Boy Scout troops and social clubs.

“Virtually all of them have had to cancel their Easter orders because many of them set up and sell Easter flowers in various locations throughout the region,” she said. “Unfortunately, there’s not a big market for Easter Lillies the day after Easter.”

As they make room for a surplus of plants, social media posts are bringing in some unexpected sales.

But Rohrbach says it won’t be enough if something doesn’t change soon.

“I see serious long-term implications for many greenhouse and nursery businesses if the current restrictions are still holding true through Mother’s Day,” she said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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