Jose Ortiz Sr. often talks to his flowers.
The Santa Paula-based flower grower tells them they’re beautiful and about the joy they will bring to people and homes when they reach their destination.
“That’s the secret,” he said. “You have to tell them how beautiful they are.”
In the days and weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, the family-owned Joseph & Sons flower farm has been busy sending flowers across the country and into Canada so sons and daughters can give their moms a fresh bouquet on Sunday.
Mother’s Day is the family’s busiest time of the year. They sent out about 1.2 million stems ahead of the holiday, said Julie Ortiz, the business’ sales and production manager. She’s also Jose Ortiz Sr.’s daughter.
Across their locations in Santa Paula, Lompoc and Imperial Valley, Joseph & Sons grows 13 types of flowers on over 400 acres, Julie Ortiz said.
They are known for their stock, a fragrant flower that comes in a variety of colors that they grow year-round, but Joseph & Sons also grow snapdragons, sunflowers, amaranthus and lisianthus.
In recent years, business hasn't always been in bloom.
Joseph & Sons struggled during the pandemic. When people stopped gathering in large crowds to attend weddings, birthdays and other events, the demand for flowers dropped, Julie Ortiz said.
Jose Ortiz Sr., who founded the business in 2004 and has over 50 years of experience in the industry, said they had to throw away fields of unwanted flowers.
According to the Ventura County crop report, there were 561 acres of cut flowers in the county valued at $34 million in 2020. In 2019, the county’s cut flower industry was valued at about $46 million.
Ed Williams, the county’s agricultural commissioner, said 2020 was the first time since 1983 cut flowers dropped out of the county's top 10 leading crops.
Thanks to the local climate, flowers can be grown year-round in Ventura County. Other parts of the country could be covered in snow or suffering under a hot summer sun, but Joseph & Sons will be planting another crop of stocks.
In fact, most of the country’s flowers are grown in California.
Steve Dionne, executive director of CalFlowers, said 80% of the flowers sold in the United States come from outside the country. Most of the remaining 20% come from California, he said.
The floral trade association began to notice a shift in the flower market several months into the pandemic. People were buying flowers for themselves or having them delivered to loved ones.
Dionne said flowers can have a positive effect on a person's mood and well being just by being in the room. They can also have the same effect when someone gifts them.
“Everybody realizes how nice it is to receive flowers, but I don’t think people realize the joy in giving flowers and seeing the expression on their faces,” Dionne said.
Fresh cut flowers are sure to brighten the day of mothers across the country on Sunday but giving flowers can also be a way for children to show their moms that they love them.
Williams suspects the tradition developed over a long period of time.
When the winter snow melted away, children would once again venture outside to play.
“The kids would go out when the flowers are up and take a handful and take them back to mom,” Williams said.
Dionne had a simpler reason to explain why children give their mothers flowers.
“Moms love flowers,” he said.
Here are some tips from Joseph & Sons to keep fresh cut flowers full and fresh longer.
Refill and change out the water often
Trim the stems by half an inch every three to four days
Keep them in a cool space
Don't put them in direct sunlight
If they come with a packet of nutrients, be sure to use it
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Ventura County's Joseph & Sons flower farm busy for Mother's Day