Floristry can involve the cultivation of flowers as well as their arrangement, and to the business of selling them. Much of the raw material supplied for the floristry trade comes from the cut flowers industry. Florist shops, along with online stores, are the main flower-only outlets, but supermarkets, garden supply stores, and filling stations also sell flowers.
Floral design or floral arts is the art of creating flower arrangements in vases, bowls, baskets, or other containers, or making bouquets and compositions from cut flowers, foliages, herbs, ornamental grasses, and other plant materials. Often the terms "floral design" and "floristry" are considered synonymous. Florists are people who work with flowers and plants, generally at the retail level. Floristry differs from floristics, the study of distribution and relationships of plant species over geographic areas. Floristry also differs from horticulture, which more broadly relates to the cultivation of flowers and plants so they will remain fresh as long as possible, and would be desirable for purchase, which also involves knowledge of customers' requirements and expectations. The ability to create a variety of floral designs such as wreaths, bouquets, corsages, boutonnières/'buttonholes', permanent arrangements, and other more complicated arrangements are also important.
Education, both formal and informal, is another significant segment of the floristry industry. Established floristry designers and artists impart their craft to students interested in floral design as hobby or career. Courses are generally available through community colleges, private post-secondary vocational schools, and professional florist trade associations.
In the Netherlands, the first horticultural college was founded in 1896 in Naaldwijk; the second horticultural college was founded in 1897 in Aalsmeer. In 1926, the first national professional qualification examinations in floristry were held in the Netherlands. The horticultural college in Aalsmeer celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1972 and in 1997 its 100th anniversary. Since 1926 is the horticultural college in Aalsmeer was called the ‘Rijks Middelbare Tuinbouw School’ (RTMS). The first professional floristry education started at the RMTS in 1968. The first professor in floristry at the horticultural college in Aalsmeer was Mr. Theo Boerma. In 1972 Theo Boerma started teaching professional evening courses for the floristry diploma: vakdiploma Bloemist-Winkelier. In 1980 Theo Boerma and his wife José Boerma founded the first privately owned floristry school; Boerma Instituut International Floral Design School in Aalsmeer. The floristry diploma was recognized by the Dutch government until 1996. When the borders of Europe opened, the diploma was no longer needed but professional training for Dutch and international students is still organised by the Boerma Instituut.
The floristry business has a significant market in the corporate and social event world, as flowers play a large part in the decor of special events and meetings. Centerpieces, entryways, reception tables, bridal bouquets, wedding chuppahs, and stage sets are only a few examples of how flowers are used in the business and social event settings. Flowers are also traditionally used in ecclesiastical settings and their arrangement is often done by skilled church volunteers.