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Shipping Your Flowers and Keep Freshness on FedEx or UPS

Cut flowers are a large part of the horticulture and agriculture industry, with thousands of tons of flowers moved through major airports and ports across the world. The industry is worth more than $15 billion in the United States alone.

Flowers are highly perishable items and require the utmost care when being transported. The cold chain is especially important because the majority of flowers come from South American countries like Columbia and Ecuador. These flowers are shipped directly to both customers and florists.

The following are best practices to follow when shipping cut flowers to keep them fresh and maximize their lifespan.

Prioritize Speed

UPS’s 27,000 ft² refrigerated warehouse in Miami moves more than 3000 tons of flowers. Planners prioritize speed by working with government inspectors, customs agents, and importers to ensure that deliveries are complete within the appropriate time, sometimes less than 24 hours. FedEx is known for cutting down transportation time from 7-10 days to 1-4 days, connecting global floral markets in record time. This includes popular markets such as those in Columbia, Ecuador, and the Netherlands.

Cold Chain Transportation and Storage

Since 64% of cut flower sales in the U.S. are imports, and 93% of imports come from faraway countries like Columbia and Ecuador, cold chain integrity is essential for maintaining supply. Both FedEx and UPS have perfected their cold chain, adopting the latest technology in temperature-sensitive transportation. From temperature-controlled aircrafts to refrigerated trucks and warehouses, transportation and storage temperatures are among the most important considerations in flower logistics consulting.

Despite the long journey it takes to get cut flowers to their destination, the advancements in cold chain technology ensure that less than 15 minutes of travel time is spent outside a climate-controlled environment.


Appropriate packaging is also an essential factor in delivering cut flowers without compromising on freshness. Cable ties, bands, and lateral cleats are often used to secure inserts and prevent shifting that can disturb arrangements during transportation. Telescoping boxes and corrugated cartons are preferred packaging materials because of their moisture-resistant properties.

Since floral transportation involves the pre-cooling process, temperature and humidity further along the line can damage adhesives. Moisture-resistant adhesives are essential to avoid weakening the packaging and securing floral arrangements.

It should be noted that different flowers have different requirements for the shipping process. FedEx takes this into account and requires special packaging for tropical flowers such as orchids. These flowers are especially fragile and have to be protected from cold temperatures as they are tropical. Extra care is taken to protect the flowers from temperature variations, and packaging plays a major role in this. The orchids’ blooms and leaves are kept separate with space between them to avoid contact and damage. Extra paper packaging is used to cushion the flowers so that they’re kept apart and secured in place at the same time.

Long-stemmed flowers like roses are sometimes cut to fit into boxes, but even so, companies like FedEx and UPS advise measuring boxes precisely so that stems aren’t cut too short. Additionally, when packing florals, a couple of inches are always left between the edge of the boxes and the petals to prevent the cardboard rubbing against and damaging the petals.

Box standardization is also a major factor in helping UPS and FedEx maintain floral freshness. Not only do standardized boxes improve efficiency in distribution, but they also ensure the structural integrity of the pallet and decrease the risk of damage. This is especially important in sea freight since it allows for the circulation of cold air from the bottom of the pallet through the holes in the boxes.

If you’re a retailer or florist concerned about the fragmented supply chain, consider hiring a flower logistics consulting agency. New Bloom Solutions’ flower industry consultants are experts in floral innovation and logistics and can ensure long-term, reliable partnerships with the right suppliers and companies. Take advantage of our results-driven consulting and contact us today.

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