Highlights from Colombia’s international cut flower trade show
By Nita Robertson, AIFD, CFD
Started in 1991, Proflora is a biennial international trade show for the cut flower industry organized by Asocolflores, the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, to promote the beautiful flowers of Colombia and as well as the global flower industry. This year’s spectacular event—held October 4-6 at the Corferias convention center in Bogotá—broke records, hosting more than 300 exhibitors from 18 countries and more than 6,500 flower industry professionals from around the world.
Proflora is more than just a platform to showcase the finest cut flowers, cut foliages and services available in the flower industry; it is a celebration of the industry’s accomplishments and a testament to its blooming future. “By exhibiting the latest trends and innovations in the flower sector, Proflora … allows the elite of the international flower market to establish fruitful relationships that favor their business endeavors,” explains Augusto Solano, president of Asocolflores. “During Proflora, Flowers of Colombia will demonstrate its commitment with the country, with the rural communities, and with the 200,000 direct and indirect formal jobs that it generates every year. Thus, we will demonstrate the pledge of our flower growers to respond assertively to new consumers, to their needs, and to a sustainable trade, in general.”
The day before the show opened, international attendees had the opportunity to tour some of the flower farms on the Bogotá Savanna. The first stop was Riofrio Bouquets, a cut-flower grower and bouquet maker for mass-market florists. The farm employs 800 people year-round and as many as 1,400 people during the holiday seasons of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Riofrio has many social and environmental policies in place that made this farm a beautiful place to work.
Attendees also visited Rosamina, a grower of Protea, Leucadendron, Leucospermum (pincushions) and foliages. This farm started growing roses 30 years ago but switched to growing flowers in Proteacea family 15 years ago. It has since become the country’s largest producer of Proteaceae, defying the odds when people told Eli Perez and his father that it was impossible to these flowers in Colombia. The Perezes saw the importance of being different in order to compete.
Perez shares that these flowers are expensive because they take so long to grow—three years from start to flower. They also face challenges with climate, such as frost, which can wipe out crops; these specialty flowers are field grown (no greenhouses), which creates hilly fields of absolute beauty at Rosamina. This farm also has an impressive commitment to social and environmental advancements, continuously improving its sustainability efforts; e.g., increasing the use of biocontrols and working on solar energy to power the farm. Rosamina has built an efficient rainwater collection system, used for crop irrigation, and is a Rainforest Alliance Certified farm.
Outstanding Variety Competition
This year, Proflora’s “Outstanding Variety Competition,” which showcases the newest flower varieties on the market, had more than 420 entries. In the Producers “Garden Rose” category, Rosa Estándar won first place for its ‘Enchantment’ variety, followed by Alexandra Farms in second and third place, for its ‘Bessie’ (Ausperidot) variety—a David Austin Wedding Roses cultivar—and it ‘Blanche Spr’ spray garden rose, respectively.
In the Producer “Fillers” category, Ball Colombia took top honors for its Limonium and second place for its Achillea (yarrow). Danziger Colombia took third place with its Limonium. These are just a few of the winners announced during the variety competition. To see all of the winning varieties, visit proflora.org.co.
Colombia is a beautiful country full of color, amazing people and beautiful flowers. Make plans now to attend Proflora 2025, taking place Oct. 1-3 in Bogotá.
COLOMBIA: The Land of Flowers
The agriculture industry in Colombia produces many wonderful products for the world including coffee beans; cacao seeds (beans), from which chocolate and cocoa get their start; and, of course, beautiful cut flowers. The flowers grown in Colombia are stunningly beautiful and of the highest quality, due, in part, to the country’s climate and geography, which provides the ideal sunlight, humidity, temperature and fertility conditions for growing cut flowers.
Colombia is the second most biodiverse country on the planet—rainforests to mountain peaks, two coasts and everything in between—and since the beginning of the cut flower industry in the country, around 1965, Colombia has grown to become the second largest exporter of cut flowers in the world, behind only the Netherlands. Roses, carnations, Chrysanthemum, Alstroemeria, lilies, Hydrangea and orchids are the most exported cut flowers from Colombia, but the country’s flower farms also grow myriad other flower types.
The flower industry in Colombia comprises roughly 300 farms and is centered in two areas: on the Bogotá Savanna, a.k.a. Sabana de Bogotá—the plateau surrounding the city of Bogotá—and in the Rionegro Valley, close to Medellín. Farms on the Bogotá Savanna produce approximately 73 percent of the cut flowers grown in Colombia, around 24 percent are grown in the Rionegro Valley, and the remaining 3 percent are grown throughout the central and western regions of the country.
Unlike with Colombia’s coffee industry, cut flowers are grown year-round, and the industry employs more than 200,000 people, with women composing more than half of the workforce. Small towns thrive because of flower farming, and the industry has improved the lives of people within the nearby communities, especially the lives of women.