According to the National Retail Federation, Easter ranks fourth in holiday floral sales, following Christmas/Chanukah, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and consumers spent $1.1 billion on Easter flowers in 2015. Flowering and green plants were responsible for 46 percent of those sales, with Easter lilies being the most popular purchase at 52 percent. Women made up 74 percent of the consumers and they bought the plants to give as gifts to relatives and friends, with 80 percent of Americans planning to celebrate Easter each year.
A Society of American Florists’ member survey taken after Easter 2013 reported a 24 percent increase in sales compared to the year before, with plants garnering 85 percent of the purchases and Easter lily sales up eight percent. Single Easter lilies were up by 17 percent, double Easter lilies by 17 percent, and triple Easter lilies by 10 percent.
Despite having a sales window of only one month each year, Easter lilies are the fourth largest potted plant crop in the U.S., trailing behind poinsettias, hydrangeas and azaleas, according to lilyflowerstore.com. The total number of Easter lilies sold in North America yearly is more than 10 million.
Today four family-owned companies with fields in a region straddling the California-Oregon border grow 99 percent of the Easter lily bulbs. Over 10 million bulbs are harvested in August through October and are then sold to nurseries for finishing.
Karen Bachman Thull, Bachman’s director of marketing and corporate communications in Minneapolis, told The Produce News that for 2017 the company would be producing 7,500 six-inch single stem, eight-inch triple stem, and four-inch mini Easter lily plants.
“The Easter lily bulbs are harvested in the fall and shipped to Bachman’s,” said Bachman Thull. “They are planted as soon as we receive them and then cooled for 1,000 hours to promote rooting. At that point, the plants are brought into the greenhouses located in Lakeville, MN, and warmed up. Timing is everything. We need to be able to see small flower buds by Ash Wednesday. At that point, it is managing temperatures to ensure the beautiful trumpet-shaped blooms mature in time for Easter.”
The Easter lily continues to reign supreme at Easter time, decorating houses and churches and boosting sales in floral departments. The lily signifies rebirth and a new beginning in the Christian tradition because it rises and blooms into a beautiful flower from a scaly bulb in the ground.