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Valentine’s Day boosts demand for plants

Issue Date: February 5, 2020
By Kevin Hecteman
Kayli Sessions, a houseplant buyer for Green Acres Nursery and Supply in Elk Grove, looks over orchids in her store’s greenhouse. Sessions’ Valentine’s Day efforts this year focus on orchids, Anthuriums, Kalanchoe and other colorful plants for those seeking something different.
Photo/Kevin Hecteman
Orchids, many of which came from a nursery in San Bernardino County, dominate a Valentine’s Day plant display at Green Acres Nursery and Supply in Elk Grove. Live plants are making inroads on Valentine’s Day.
Photo/Kevin Hecteman

A Valentine's Day rose by any other name would be … an orchid? Anthurium? Blooming succulent?

Nursery growers and retailers report seeing more movement of living plants for the holiday dedicated to romance and the legacy of St. Valentine.

"Probably the top seller is the orchid, the Phalaenopsis orchid," said Kayli Sessions, houseplant buyer at Green Acres Nursery and Supply in Elk Grove, as she looked over her Valentine's Day display. "This orchid here comes in so many different colors and sizes, and it will keep reblooming for you for years to come."

Lauren McCrary of Fisher Nurseries in Ripon said she's noticed people moving toward live plants for the holiday and other occasions, influenced in part by social media sites such as Instagram.

"I'm part of that millennial generation. We are huge when it comes to social media and how plants are trending back up," McCrary said. "I'm seeing a lot of Freesias, bold flowers like the Freesia that's very fragrant. A lot of bold flowers are being given away for Valentine's Day."

Bromeliads and tropical foliage also are trending well among buyers, she added. Bromeliads have colorful bracts that bloom for three to five months.

"I'm even seeing people just buying regular foliage," McCrary said. "Not even a flower bloom, but just something with a different pattern or foliage. A different variegation in the foliage seems to be trending a lot more."

Denise Godfrey of Olive Hill Greenhouses in Fallbrook said she has plenty of customers selling "quite a bit of foliage and mixed baskets for Valentine's Day."

"We sell lots of Anthuriums this time of year with their nice, heart-shaped red, pink, purple or white flowers," Godfrey said, noting she also sold plenty of Anthuriums for the Lunar New Year holiday in late January, as well as "anything with pink foliage, pink flowers or heart-shaped leaves."

McCrary agreed on the Anthuriums, "just because it has those colors—they normally are typically red or pink or white, so it kind of stays in that Valentine's Day theme."

Sessions carries small plants called Hoya kerrii, more commonly known as sweetheart Hoya, with the two main leaves forming a heart. Variegated varieties are taking off in popularity, she added.

Kalanchoe also plays a large role in Sessions' Valentine's Day display.

"That's that succulent that has that bright bloom," McCrary said. "It's either red, yellow, pink—sometimes it's white or orange.

"That's a really good, easy plant to take care of, too," she added. "It can be grown indoors or outdoors."

African violets also sell well for the holiday, McCrary and Sessions said.

"They're also a flowering houseplant that's extremely popular and has been since the '70s," Sessions said.

"It doesn't like wet foliage and it doesn't like to dry out, which makes it a little easier for some people who like to overlove their plants," she added, meaning "overwater." "They come in so many different colors as well, and a lot of people actually collect them."

Looking ahead to spring, McCrary said she expects Calatheas to sell well.

"There's lots of patterns on the leaves, and at nighttime the leaves will fold up, and during the daytime they will kind of droop down to absorb sunlight on the foliage," she said. "This plant kind of moves a little bit. It lets you know what's going on. This one seems to be trending a little bit more this year."

Back at Green Acres, Sessions said she aims to keep her greenhouse alive with color.

"Color and flowers are still kind of my go-to for this holiday," Sessions said. "I want to encourage people to keep their flowers around longer and make their plant flower again for them, time after time."

McCrary said she thinks live plants for Valentine's Day have a bright future.

"We're pulling in a lot more color than we have in the past," she said. "I do see a trend. Normally, you would think Mother's Day would be more of a plant time, but it really is Valentine's Day."

(Kevin Hecteman is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. He may be contacted at

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

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