A florist is a professional who specializes in the selection and arrangement of flowers for the purpose of decoration. Florists work all over the world, from huge warehouses which ship flowers internationally to small roadside stands in rural areas. Many people find themselves using the services of a florist at some point in their lives, since people appreciate gifts of thoughtfully arranged flowers, especially on important life occasions.
Florists have been around since at least 1623, when the word “florist” first entered English. Like the word for “flower,” it is derived from the Latin floris, which means “flower.” Florists traditionally work with cut flowers, although some may sell potted plants as well. The cultivation of flowers is left to gardeners and horticultural specialists who have individual contracts with florists to deliver flowers, usually daily, to ensure that they are fresh.
Florists do not generally require professional training, although most start out as apprentices working with a skilled florist who can teach the tricks of the trade. A good florist has an excellent eye for color and the aesthetics of flower arranging. He or she must also be talented at working on multiple projects at once; a florist might be making arrangements for a big wedding while handling day to day customers, for example. Some florists also run their own shops, in which case a head for business is vital.
The primary task of a florist is arrangement of flowers. Most florists sell a selection of pre-arranged flower bouquets at set prices for people who simply want to walk in and purchase arrangements. They also offer customized arrangement services; individual customers can come in and custom order a bouquet on the spot from available stock, or they can place an advance order, which is advised when someone needs a multitude of flowers for an event like a wedding, funeral, or graduation.
Arrangements may include fresh flowers, dried flowers, ribbons, foliage, other plant material, and other ornamental features. Florists also typically stock vases, baskets, and other tools for the display of flowers. They may also offer delivery of their products for people who want to send flowers to people recovering in hospital, bereaved families, and others.
Knowledgeable florists often known a great deal about the symbolism of the flowers that they work with. Different flowers have different meanings in specific cultures, as do certain colors. Florists are generally familiar with the cultural beliefs about flowers in the areas in which they work, and they may have information about other cultures, as well. This knowledge is extremely important when organizing flowers for events like weddings; as certain colors may be viewed as inauspicious, as will certain flowers.