Flower Confidential

Flower Confidential
The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers
Algonquin Books • 2007

A New York Times Bestseller! Flower Confidential is an around-the-world, behind-the-scenes look at the flower industry and how it has sought--for better and worse-- to achieve perfection.

Does it matter that a bouquet of roses travels halfway around the world before it arrives at your supermarket or florist? Or that growers force tulips to bloom in December? Are we being tricked when a scientist engineers a lily that doesn't shed pollen?

For over a century, hybridizers, geneticists, farmers, and florists around the world have worked to invent, manufacture, and sell flowers that are bigger, brighter, and sturdier than anything nature could provide. Almost any flower, in any color, is for sale at any time of the year.

Amy Stewart travels the globe to take us inside this dazzling world. She tracks down scientists intent on developing the first genetically modified blue rose; an eccentric horticultural legend who created the world's most popular lily (the 'Star Gazer'); a breeder of gerberas of every color imaginable; and an Ecuadorian farmer growing exquisite, high-end organic roses that are the floral equivalent of a Tiffany diamond. She sees firsthand how flowers are grown and harvested on farms in Latin America, California, and Holland. (It isn't always pretty.)

What has been gained-and what has been lost-in tinkering with Mother Nature? Should we care that roses have lost their scent? Or that most flowers are sprayed with pesticides? In a global marketplace, is there such a thing as a socially responsible flower? At every turn, Stewart discovers a fascinating intersection of nature and technology, of sentiment and commerce.

You'll never look at a cut flower the same way again.

Press Kit

Download fact sheets and other press materials

Media Appearances

Catch up on Amy's appearances on National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, and many other shows.

Cut Flower Tips

Download Amy's tips for choosing, arranging, and preserving cut flowers (PDF)

National TV Appearances

Watch clips from CBS Sunday Morning and the PBS documentary The Botany of Desire.

Flower Confidential Trailer

Flower Confidential Reviews

"Engaging and scrupulously reported...Flower Confidential is investigative reporting of a gentle sort"
"Flower Confidential," by Amy Stewart. Stewart is a fine interviewer and historian, and she does a superb job with this hardcover scoop on "the good, the bad, and the beautiful in the business of flowers." Well-researched details about the cut-flower trade draw you in, and her writing style and character development make the book as good a choice for vacation reading as a novel. You won't finish it in one sitting, as the tale moves from one plant to another."
"Revelatory...informative at every level...and commendably fair-minded. Stewart shows in stunning detail that every aspect of producing flowers for the cut-flower market has been abstracted into its elements."
"Who could resist a title like Flower Confidential? Actually, anything by Amy Stewart would be hard to resist."
— Berkeley Daily Planet
"Surprising and intriguing...an intelligent, evenhanded account. Flower Confidential is the rare nonfiction book that keeps you turning pages. [Stewart's] own passion for flowers, along with her adventures in the fields, greenhouses, auction houses and laboratories, gives the facts life."
"A concise, engaging, sometimes humorous expose of the worldwide multibillion-dollar cut flower industry."
— E, The Environmental Magazine
"[Flower Confidential]succeeds in offering richly detailed information about the genetic engineering and breeding of flowers, and the growing organic and fair-trade movements around the world. Stewart also provides interesting historical notes, including a look at how the Romans in the first century AD had a highly developed flower trade, manipulating flowers to bloom out of season using steam or hot water in some of the earliest greenhouses."
"This is a straight-forward account of a very large business, and yet she tells the story with a wide-eyed innocence and humor that is fun to read.... Like the industry itself, this book is fresh, different, and while it may be a little self-indulgent to include it in a set of business book reviews, I truly believe that you will enjoy this book."
"One factor in the revival of local flower farms has been the influence of the investigative reporter Amy Stewart's 2007 book, 'Flower Confidential,' which is to many flower lovers what 'Fast Food Nation' was to budding foodies."
"For any gardeners who love cut flowers, and who doesn't, the must read book this season is Flower Confidential...In several respects, Flower Confidential is reminiscent of the book The Orchid Thief, which is no small feat. You'll relish this book as soon as you read the first page."
"Is there any romance left in the genetically designed daisy? Does that sunflower come with too high a social price? Stewart raises some thorny questions...If your ideas about flowers still hark back to my grandmother's day -- the rich smell of earth, the loving hands of the gardener -- then Amy Stewart's Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers will make you rethink that Easter lily or Mother's Day bouquet."
"Cut flowers are part of the global marketplace, after all, and Stewart prompts shoppers to think hard about where their stems come from and how they got to market. The book may just get readers to see bouquets in a whole new light."
— Los Angeles Times
"Stewart has come not just to skewer the flower industry but rather to examine it, and this she does thoroughly and in highly readable prose...It all makes for a "gosh-how-interesting- I-never-thought- about-that" kind of read."
"Ms. Stewart is the author of "Flower Confidential," a book that comes out today from Algonquin and is part confession, in which she owns up to her "generalized, smutty sort of lust for flowers," and part expose, in which she describes how the business has become so industrialized that a flower's greatest asset these days is not its beauty or its fragrance but its durability as freight."
"Stewart's journey takes us down many paths, all connected by her own curiosity and highly readable prose. The greatest value of Flower Confidential, however, is that it was written at all. We know so little of the ways simple daily items are brought to us that such a book helps us grasp our modern world. Who knows? Flower Confidential may compel us to return to something purer, more local."
"Thanks to Amy Stewart's Flower Confidential, you'll learn a whole lot more about the big business of flowers. If books had genetic lines, Flower Confidential would carry its pedigree from Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire... Stewart can hardly keep her passion for flowers, or the internal transcript of her thoughts, off the page--and in this case, that's a good thing... Flower Confidential attains the uncommon rank of a non-fiction book that is equally as rewarding to the reader for its storytelling as it is for its content.Even if you're not into flowers, it's fascinating to see how a major industry is built around such a short-lived, aesthetic luxury."
"A fascinating tour of the $40 billion floral industry. Along with the V-Day bouquet, pick up a book that's bound to have a nice long shelf-life."
"A quirky but entertaining book...Romantic to a fault, Ms. Stewart finds a lot to cherish in her visits to the modern-day flower farms of northern California and Holland....Stewart is the good-natured outsider--occasionally dishing the dirt but usually celebrating the beautiful things that grow in it."
— Wall Street Journal
"This is not your mother's flower garden...Stewart is an acute observer and intelligent writer, and "Flower Confidential" is a compelling read."
"A thorns-and-all expose of the blossom business...[Stewart] visits small, well-kept-secret shops (like the NYC gem Flowers of the World) and high-volume discounters ($700 will get you an entire wedding's worth of roses at Costco), and her cut-flower care guide is stem-tastic: To keep your Valentine's Day bouquet fresh for days, add a pinch of crushed Viagra."

Watch Amy Stewart on CBS Sunday Morning:

 

 

Watch Amy Stewart on the PBS documentary “The Botany of Desire”

 

Watch Racing the Clock: The Dutch Auction on PBS. See more from Botany of Desire.