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At the end of January, things looked good for Valentine’s Day, one of the biggest floral sales holidays of the year. California was recovering from a cold and wet winter with plenty of flowers. There had been no big floods or freezes in Colombia and Ecuador. Shippers had laid on extra routes. Supermarkets and wholesalers had placed their orders.

Winner-COVER-SHOT-213-PRETTSun Parasol Pretty Deep Pink, a climbing vine with pink flowers and glossy green foliage from Suntory/Sun-Fire Nurseries, has a high flower count. It won the Favorite New Flowering Plant award by vote of attendees at the recent Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition.All was in readiness. As Nicole Hall, a buyer for Kroger in Vero Beach, FL, told me at the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition, “We have orders in place and promotions planned.” (She’s planning a special on gardenias.) “Now we have to hold our breath and hope there are no shipping problems, that the weather is good and sales materialize.” Amen to that.

New products from TPIE: Succulents that glow in the dark from Desert Gems; a one-cubic-foot bag of compact potting and garden soil from Greenworld that expands to two cubic feet when you open it; and a Stick It box from Silver Vase with two-inch bromeliads, a home décor item that adheres to windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors.

Alan Cone working the Optimara booth was at the first TPIE show 40 years ago, while Ben Van Wingerden of Color Orchids noted that he has 120 cousins in the flower business. All told, exhibitors were happy with the number of buyers, and a good time was had by all.

In this issue, we offer news and photo coverage of the TPIE show, and report on $900,000 in grants for floral promotion. Have a good Valentine’s Day. See you next month.

John Niblock is the floral editor and floral sales manager of The Produce News. He can be contacted at 843/724-9888 or jniblock@earthlink.net.