What happens to the Valentine's Day flowers that don't get sold?

Taken post-Valentine's Day 2019, this facility is teeming with donated bouquets it'll soon share with patients in hospice or assisted living facilities.

Valentine's Day represents different things to different people: Love, consumerism, chocolate for breakfast.

But for the floral industry, it's essentially a national holiday -- and demand is higher than ever.

Flower business booms during Valentine's season: Of the millions of Americans predicted to spend $24.7 billion on Valentine's Day gifts this year, about 37% of them will buy flowers.

This year, Latam Cargo told CNN it flew more than 12,600 tons of flowers grown in Colombia and Ecuador around the US, Australia and Europe -- a 45% higher amount than in 2019.

But of all the millions of buds and blooms that flooded florists and grocery stores this Valentine's Day, not all of them ended up in someone's living room. What happens to the bouquets that don't make the cut?

They're donated

There are dozens of charities in the US that accept unsold bouquets from florists, repurpose them and donate them again.

Take Random Acts of Flowers, a nonprofit that donates bouquets to patients in hospice or assisted living care facilities. And Valentine's Day is the nonprofit's equivalent of the Super Bowl, said Christina Sayer, Random Acts of Flowers' director of marketing and communications.

The charity has three branches in the South and Midwest, which each receive around 5,000 to 6,000 bouquets of flowers every month. That number will likely double this month counting post-Valentine's Day deliveries, she said.

They're used for education

Florists-in-training often practice their trade on donated bouquets.

Bewilder Floral, a sustainable florist and floral program in California, accepts used flowers to teach students how to design bouquets. And local horticultural societies may accept used flowers to cut and dry them to preserve them, pressed between pages.

They're trashed

More than often, wilting bouquets end up in the garbage. Seeds that fall from pollinated flowers likely wouldn't grow in the trash, where light is obscured and soil isn't viable. Flowers that are landfilled help contribute to greenhouse gases ...

They're composted

... Unless they're composted! Flowers don't stay blossomy and fragrant for long once they're cut. But they biodegrade naturally, and nonprofits like Random Acts of Flowers try to compost as much as they donate.

Volunteers use it all -- whatever isn't up to snuff to go on display gets composted and donated to local landscaping companies and gardeners, Sayer said.

"Without [the charity], the unsold blooms at the stores in our community would likely be discarded to the landfill," she said.

Flowers won't smell as sweet as they did when they were sitting in a vase, but they'll improve soil quality and even reduce the amount of harmful toxins in the soil and air. And maybe, for Valentine's Day 2020, you'll have grown your own bouquet with your composted soil.

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