Covid 19 – Flowers feed the soul. But the soul of our flower industry is being ripped apart

Ornamentals Advisory Blog

There is no doubt we are in challenging times now; this blog has been written by one of our colleagues in the UK. They entered formal lockdown on Monday 23rd March, the day after Mother’s Day where they had already been advised to practice “social distancing”, which meant not seeing family and friends.

The flower industry in Kenya is entering some very difficult times, but it offers a little comfort to know that thousands of miles away, people think of where their flowers come from and the people that get them there.


Covid-19. #FlowersFeedTheSoul

Never has one phrase conjured up so much conversation and emotion as “Covid-19”. A quick Google of Covid-19 brings up 10.9 billion search results, while Corona Virus brings up over 17 billion results, all in 0.36 seconds.  

The global flower industry is having its soul ripped out by Covid-19. There are many growers unsure of their future, if there is a future at all for their businesses. And it’s not just the businesses, it’s the workers and their families as well. What will happen to them?

A global crisis

First a thought to our Dutch growers. For the past week they have only been allowed to deliver 30% of their usual daily volume. What’s happening to the rest of their cut flower crop? Entire crops are being mulched in greenhouses across The Netherlands in desperate attempts to save costs. There is only so much PGR you can apply to slow the growth of pot plant crops until they go a similar way. What makes it to the auctions and isn’t sold is thrown away, because the demand just is not there. People are just too busy buying toilet roll and pasta.

But the UK horticulture industry is facing a new challenge, workers. No flights arriving means flowers (and a lot of fruit and veg crops) just aren’t going to get picked or planted.  What’s going to happen to them? A huge amount of challenges no doubt, just around the corner.

While in Kenya is another horrifying version of the story. The flowers that did make it to the airport last week, most likely didn’t get on a plane, there weren’t enough to get them out. And then, the auctions closed. What becomes of the roses still out in the field? Some growers are taking crops out, some are nipping the buds, attempting to keep the crop going to ride out the storm. But that means thousands of workers have been sent home with no income. And, if each flower farm worker supports 10 people with their employment, that’s a worrying thought.


This got us thinking, we as a company employ thousands of people around the world, all affected by Covid-19 in one way or another. While we’re not a frontline company in the sense that we are not a hospital, our customers are suffering. We have seen the videos of flowers being destroyed in Kenya and The Netherlands, let alone other countries.

We wanted to demonstrate that we appreciate the effort and what flowers do for people. They bring happiness, in times of isolation though how are we supposed to share that? Through the power of social media. The next time you can, buy some flowers, perhaps for yourself or perhaps for a friend or a vulnerable neighbour who is unable to leave their home. Spread some joy because flowers feed the soul, and the soul of our industry is being ripped out by something we can’t see.

As Syngenta Ornamentals, we want to reiterate that we are still here for our customers if you need us. Drop us an email, find us on social media, send us a Whatsapp. We're still here to answer your questions on your crops. 

Stay safe,