1320 33rd Street West,
Palmetto, Fl 34221
Toll Free: 800-752-9845
Monday - Friday: 7 am - 4 pm
(extended hours during floral holidays)
Voicemail available after hours
The Cortez Floral Company (CFC) started in 1991 as a floral distributor to retail florists and event planners for Palmetto Companies, Inc. Over the next 23 years, CFC became one of the largest wholesale floral distributors on the west coast of Florida, whose market area ranges from Tarpon Springs to Ft. Myers. CFC became known for its premium of products through the usage of refrigerated bucket trucks, where customers walk on to hand select their desired floral products. It's the old fashion value that drives our reputation and dependability where Cortez is the supplier "You Can Count On".
Currently, we sell and distribute fresh cut flowers from all over the globe, locally grown plants and floral supplies. CFC operates out of Palmetto, Florida, which is uniquely situated in a market area of several million consumers. Our almost daily service from Miami gives us the ability to sell the freshest quality flowers each and every day. We currently supply nine counties in Florida and have fourteen employees to service our net of customers. Our 23 years of experience in floral distribution, adds to the over 60 years of experience in the business of selling flowers under the Manatee Fruit Company brand.
Manatee Fruit Company was started by The Preston Family in 1892 as a citrus grower of lemons formerly known as the Manatee Lemon Company. After a disastrous freeze in 1911, the lemon trees were grafted back in to orange and grapefruit trees. These changes in product line then led to the renaming of the family business to the Manatee Fruit Company (MFC). MFC grew not only citrus, but also vegetables for shipping to markets in the northern USA under various labels like Royal Palm and Moccasin Brands. MFC phased out of vegetables in the 1950's and discontinued citrus as a result of citrus canker by 2001.
In 1936, the Preston Family began growing and shipping gladiolus flowers. As time moved on, the floral business was expanded to include a multitude of flowers under production in Florida and California. MFC was a pioneer grower of many new different types of carnations, gyp, status sinuata, snapdragons, delphinium, larkspur, asters, asiatic lilies, oriental lilies, sunflowers, gerbera daises, and a sundry of other flowers for shipping to markets outside of Florida primarily. By 1989 MFC was one of the largest growers of cut flowers in the USA encompassing almost 1800 acres and over 400 employees. Flower distribution went from coast to coast, Canada, and Western Europe. MFC had also hybridized a number of gladiolus varieties best suited too be grown in the Florida climate and was known for its focus on quality and freshness. The Manatee cut flower brand was known throughout North America.
In 1974, MFC began its potted plant operation which covers over 20 acres and consists of a variety of plants including potted chrysanthemums, poinsettias, Easter lilies, foliage plants, and a variety of seasonal outdoor and indoor plants. The green house operation serves markets all over the country as well as grocery chains, and local retailers.
As a result of less expensive flower imports coming into Miami, the largest port of entry for flowers grown off shore, the company scaled back its cut flower operation in the 1990's and the first few years of the 21st century. The domestic production of cut flowers became unfeasible due to rising costs and regulations as well as the over supply of imported flowers through Miami. In 2006, MFC had an outbreak of gladiolus rust, a quarantine pest, where 70% of their gladiolus bulb stock was destroyed. MFC was never able to recover from the gladiolus rust epidemic and stopped producing flowers in 2013.
Today MFC still grows potted plants and has several vegetable and cattle operations farming the property. The family focus is now to convert its long time farm lands into new opportunities for the community through jobs, homes, and recreation. The Preston's long term commitment to Manatee County is represented by its commitment to growing the community and improving the lives of Manatee County citizens and the visitors who come to the area to vacation.