Is BloomNation Really American Made?

I know I am about to walk a fine line here, but I encourage you to walk it with me.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that BloomNation was nominated to Martha Stewart’s American Made contest. BloomNation is a new, online network of “artisan florists” that supply “handcrafted bouquets” to local and regional markets. Martha Stewart’s American Made contest is an annual competition created by Stewart to “honor and support a growing population of those makers who create beautiful and useful products, pioneer new industries, and improve their local communities.”Bloom1

I do want to acknowledge Stewart for using her immense platform to feature American Made products. She doesn’t have to do this. In fact, the naming of the Certified American Grown flowers program was inspired, in part, by Stewart’s American Made initiative. She was onto something, and the Certified American Grown program is like-minded in its intent to bring focus to locally grown flowers here in the U.S.

That is what makes BloomNation’s nomination for Stewart’s ”American Made” an opportunity. It highlights an important perception and awareness issue that faces American flower farmers every day.

American Made doesn’t mean American Grown, and yet we see this implied communication, messaging and marketing that associates imported flowers with the “Made in the USA” or “American Made” claim appearing at many retailers right now throughout our country.

In fact, author and founder Debra Prinzing shared her frustrations about the prevalence of these “handcrafted” claims by retailers in a recent blog on

I’m not going to point fingers here, but I will simply point out that the origin of the flowers used in a bouquet or design is just as important as where it was designed or where it was “assembled.” Origin matters. The economic activity and jobs generated by our local farms are just as important as those found in retail and wholesale operations. In fact, we should be advocating for more of these jobs and farms growing here in this country.
Enter Certified American Grown.


AGL Certified

This program was created to help consumers and the floral industry identify, understand and more deeply appreciate those floral designs, bouquets and arrangements that are actually created with flowers grown in the United States. Many people assume that a flower bouquet or arrangement from a local shop or studio would include flowers also grown here. However, for many reasons, including the lack of enforcement on origin-based labeling at our ports of entry, 74 percent of Americans have no idea where flowers come from today. The result? Approximately 80 percent of the flowers now sold in the United States are imported, primarily from Colombia and Ecuador.

So, while BloomNation’s “American Made” claim may be technically accurate (in that the flowers are physically assembled by BloomNation member florists), it seems to misrepresent the spirit of the affiliation of what is “American.” If all of the flowers in an arrangement are imported, can it still be considered “American Made?”

Since the launch of the Certified American Grown program in July, we’ve continued to see the interest and opportunity to further the support and cultivate the network of farmers, florists and designers who are committed to not only being a local source, but providing local, American Grown flowers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Please leave your answer to the question above in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Brooke Wetzel

    As a BloomNation florist and a champion of California and American grown flowers, I am so disappointed with this post. BloomNation as a network does not purport to only feature florists who solely use American grown or solely use imported flowers; what they HAVE done is disrupted the stranglehold that the other guys have had on the local floral industry for generations.
    As a studio florist who focuses on seasonal and California grown flowers, I have seen my business quadruple with support of the BloomNation network. Through growth, I’ve had the opportunity to support local farms and growers without sacrificing quality and have surprised and educated my clients about the beauty of California flowers.

    • Kasey Cronquist

      Brooke, your comments and feedback are appreciated.

      I totally agree that what BloomNation has done to “disrupt” and change this industry has been good for its members, like you. In fact, that change to the industry model is inspiring to see. I also think BloomNation’s model provides a great opportunity for designers like yourself who aren’t interested in fulfilling orders with flower varieties and styles that you don’t want to offer.

      Stewart’s American Made annual competition is a great event. It is great to see someone in her position take on such a project in light of the challenges of sourcing materials today.

      Yet, when it comes to something as simple and natural as flowers, does the term ‘American Made’ misrepresent the spirit of the statement? My post is a conversation starter, I’m not taking a hardline here. And like I said in the post, “technically” the claim maybe accurate.

      I do believe there could be a great relationship between BloomNation member designers like yourself and the Certified American Grown flowers campaign. Because maybe unlike yarn, cars and dishwashers, the claim of what is “American” can be made all the way through to the flowers that are used in the arrangements.

      Your support for our local flower farmers is very appreciated.

      • Brooke Wetzel

        Thanks for your reply Kasey!

        I think part of what Martha Stewart’s contest is celebrating is American ingenuity and entrepreneurship and BloomNation is helping to reinvigorate what we’ve all heard is a dying industry.

        What I have found most interesting about my BloomNation experience as a designer has been that flowers have become emotional again. People are reconnecting with florists in a modern way instead of clicking around at stock photos. Flowers are my industry and California grown flowers are my passion. People are getting excited about buying flowers again and that’s win win for all of us.

        • Kasey Cronquist

          I totally agree that BloomNation is an example of ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Certainly, based out of Los Angeles, an American Made company.

          I also think their platform provides the kind of flexibility and thoughtfulness that allows designers like yourself to source and promote American Grown flowers, which isn’t usually the case with the wire service models.

          To me, the “win, win, win” here would be to see a connection being made through to the sourcing of the flowers. Helping folks understand why its just as important that the flowers were grown locally as it is for them to be buying them from their local florists, designer, studio, etc.

          Your studio’s (The Plum Dahlia) commitment to locally grown is not today’s standard in our industry and I believe if it was, we would not have lost so many flower farmers over the past twenty years. Thank you for supporting our local farms and their flowers. It makes a difference.

  • dkprinzing

    I applaud this post for so many reasons. All I’m asking for is that BloomNation florists like Brooke Wetzel honestly disclose the source of their flowers. That’s the only way to be fair to consumers. The issue is not the sourcing, but the labeling. I’m fine if Etsy artists use imported ingredients, but I sure hope they are able to inform me and be 100% forthcoming about imported yarn or whatever. That is true customer service. Letting the consumer make an informed decision. That is American.

    • Brooke Wetzel

      I do label the source of my flowers, Debra, and like Holly Chappell stated in her last Slow Flowers podcast, 100% American is the goal, but not always possible.

      I take the time to educate my clients why, no, I won’t source imported Peonies in November and why Roses from Carpenteria are so much more beautiful and fragrant than those from Columbia. The first step is educating and getting clients excited to buy American and honestly, I don’t know that florists are all out to buy 100% imported. Some are, yes. There’s the perception that imported is more expensive therefore more valuable, but again, this is a matter of education and taste.

      We’re at the beginning of a movement and I see more and more customers excited to use sustainable and locally sourced blooms.

      • dkprinzing

        wow, great to read! I think we are united in our vision for a *new* American floral model! Please consider joining and sharing your business with consumers who are seeking designers like YOU, Brooke!

        • Brooke Wetzel

          It’s been on my To-Do list for TOOOO long!

  • Natasha M

    As yet another Studio floral designer who has experienced first hand substantial growth in my business, I feel it my duty to support Bloom Nation in their efforts to continue to highlight the efforts of local artisans. If you take a moment to view their platform and interface, you will see what our customers see- which is first, our art. From there, our valued customers have the opportunity to choose a local artisan based on a variety of reasons. For EcoChic Floral- the overwhelming feedback indicates that our commitment to sustainably/and yes wherever humanly possible domestically sourced flowers was indeed the motivation to trust us with these special gifts sent as symbols of love, encouragement and appreciation. In instances where we’re simply not able to complete a project using American Grown flowers (this is less than 10% of the time) we are committed to Sustainably Certified foreign flower farms. We believe these farms and their valued team of farm workers should have the opportunity to thrive as well. Programs like Rainforest Alliance and Veriflora ensure that the people/workers who rely on floriculture for economic opportunity, access to healthcare and education are able to thrive as well as American farmers and farm workers. Our company culture emphasizes the importance of supporting domestic farms as a priority- however, for us, hard line rules like “only” American grown “all the time-every time” approach the kind of extreme that don’t support our involvement in the global community and greater good of all. I agree with Debra in that transparency is imperative, our customers trust us to provide the decor for some of the most important events of their lives. This trust offers us the opportunity to explain WHY we’re committed to American grown, the truth is, for most- this information is completely foreign. I appreciate this post and the kind of discourse it elicits- I do not however believe it’s entirely accurate. I agree that the artists who are supported by Bloom Nation create American Made art with a floral medium that may or may not be American- this was not a claim made by the contest (that all mediums be sourced domestically). The nomination, in my opinion, stands as valid.

    • Kasey Cronquist

      Good Morning Natasha! Thank you for your thoughtful response. Your commitment to buying American Grown flowers as part of your company culture is wonderful to hear and I would love to see how we might work with you to promote that commitment. I would certainly recommend registering with Debra Prinzing’s platform sounds perfect for you and a complement to your affiliation with BloomNation.

      While you have made it your commitment to be pro-active and transparent about your sourcing of flowers, it is not the standard. The majority of flowers are bought and sold today without much thought given to promoting and marketing where they were grown, which is why we are where we are now (80% imported). I firmly believe (based on research) that if more Americans were given a choice, they’d buy American Grown flowers.

      Times are changing though, the floral industry is changing and your company is certainly an example of that, as well as many others who have signed the pledget to provide American Grown flowers and be listed on a website like

      Based on Martha’s Stewart’s contest criteria, I’m not suggesting that BloomNation isn’t deserving of their nomination, what I am highlighting is this issue, this challenge that the flower farmers of this country continue to face. Imagine if you were a flower farmer in the United States and you walked into a retailers floral department and you saw a bouquet of imported flowers with a sticker saying, “hand tied in America” or “Assembled in the USA!” or “Locally Hand Tied!” or “American Made.”

      Like I said in my post, technically, it could be argued that those claims are all true, but if all of the flowers in a bouquet are imported, does it make it right? Specifically when we’re talking about flowers.

      If you were a hard working flower farmer and you walked into your local grocery store and saw a department of imported flowers all labeled “American Made,” how would you feel? That’s what I’m asking. This is the challenge our farms face right now, every day.

      Your commitment and support is very much appreciated Natasha! Thank you!

  • Christina Stembel

    100% American grown is ALWAYS possible. Period. No matter where you live there are wholesalers and growers who will ship American grown flowers to you. If you can’t find them check out Slow Flowers or call Torchio in SF and they’ll send you anything you need.

    While sourcing out of season flowers may be required to meet consumer demands, [it’s my opinion] it’s the not what’s needed to be a part of the solution. Consumers do not need the ability to get Peonies in December more than we need to support American agriculture, and lessen our environmental impact. We need to help support the 42% of American flower farmers that are still in business given that the remaining 58% have folded in the last 20 years because they can’t compete with imported prices due to corrupt labor practices and free trade agreements. Other countries pay $6 day labor costs (about 1/2 their
    minimum wage) compared to living wages in the US ($104/day) btw.

    Even though Bloom Nation is giving a platform for florist to sell flowers (which, to be fair, I’m sure helps some who need it), it is extremely misleading to call it American made when 80% of the flowers used (statistically speaking) are imported from other countries. American Made gives the impression of American grown, which Bloom Nation is not, and the majority of the florists who sell on it are not.

    So, while others may be dissappointed by your post Casey, I applaud you for bringing transparency to the discussion. Because, quite frankly, everyone has a right to know the real story.

    • Kasey Cronquist

      Christina, your thoughts and comments are appreciated. Your commitment and support for our flower farmers is greatly appreciated. I know that, statistically speaking, your dedication to #AmericanGrown flowers is not the norm, but I trust your continued success combined with the growing demand by consumers others in our industry will be inspired to join the cause as well.

  • Kristi Arpasi AIFD

    While I am completely sympathetic with the plight of the American flower farmer, and I do buy American whenever I possibly can, and would prefer to do so more often, I stand by my previous post that my local wholesalers do not carry very much American grown flowers. They stock heavily in South American. I have purchased flowers direct, but honestly, as a wise business owner who is married to a CPA who checks my bottom line weekly, I cannot afford an additional $100 for shipping. Let me remind you also that in the last 15 years, we have lost half of our retail flower shops. It isn’t just the American farmers who have suffered. I will continue to do what I can to buy American grown flowers, but the bottom line is I am in this business to make a profit. If you can possibly ship me California-grown flowers for a reasonable price, I am more than willing to listen.

    • Kasey Cronquist

      Hi Kristi! You’re not alone. We know that more people would prefer to buy more American Grown and yet we do face a supply chain challenge.

      However, as consumer desire for American Grown flowers grows, it is my hope that businesses like yours who have been supportive and committed start to wholesalers changing their model to keep up with the demand and the desires of their customers, like you, who are trying to “buy local” and meet that market demand.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Now let’s see what we can do about getting those transportation costs down and getting you some more American Grown flowers!

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  • Lynn Mehl

    Everything you posted Kasey has such merit as always-applause- so you inspired me to take the time out to write and walk the line with you and the comments! Read on 🙂