The economic importance of ornamentals has been increasing in many countries, and international demand has rapidly expanded.
Cut flowers represent the largest segment of the industry followed by flowering pot plants, tree and nursery crops, flower bulbs, and other propagation material.
The ornamental cut flower market in Western Europe exceeds $12 billion in sales.
Next are the United States with 6.9 billion and Japan with 7.8 billion dollars in sales.
The Netherlands contributes nearly 60 percent of world flower exports followed by Colombia, Italy, and Israel as major exporters.
In 1990, the Netherlands also exported nearly one-half of the world's pot plants, followed by Denmark, Belgium, and Germany (Malter, 1995).
In the 1960's and 1970's flower production expanded in Colombia.
Exports of pompom chrysanthemums to the United States increased about 50-fold; and in 1992 nearly 90 percent of this product sold in the United States was imported from Colombia.
Colombia also supplies over 95 percent of the carnations and 70 percent of the roses sold in the United States.
In spite of the pressure from cut flower imports in the United States, floriculture and environmental horticulture is the fastest growing agricultural sector with an annual growth rate of 9 percent since 1982. In 1994, grower receipts totaled $8.7 billion for all products.
Worldwide trends in floriculture are rapidly changing.
Excess greenhouse capacity has developed in the Netherlands following reduced demand for Dutch cut flowers.
The trend away from cut flower production has resulted in a shift to flowering pot plants.
In the United States, this trend developed in the 1980's as cut flower imports expanded and flowering pot plant production also increased.
World production centers of floriculture crops are continuing to change.
New production facilities are expanding in Ecuador.
Ecuador is beginning to replace Colombia as the new center of cut flower production in South America.
Other emerging centers of cut flower production are India and Africa.
Research on developing new floral and nursery crops is expanding with greater demand for crop assortment.
A predictable trend in the international flower market is the increased emphasis on quality.
Quality factors related to post-harvest keeping quality include environmental influences on flower longevity, as well as the influence of pathogenic microorganisms, including virus diseases.
As competition in the world market increases, quality becomes a more important factor.
Increasing vase life or flower life on a pot plant is an important goal.
Another trend in the international transport of flowers is the requirement to certify some crops free of certain pests and diseases.
Import restrictions are based primarily on