Run for the Roses

Meredith Harber.

Celebrate the Kentucky Derby with Nanz & Kraft Florists


By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos by Kathryn Harrington


As part of the floral business for nearly 170 years, Nanz and Kraft Florists are well prepared for the spring months, and more importantly, for the Kentucky Derby flower rush that is quickly approaching. Run by three Kraft brothers, Edward, Michael and David, it is a company that has been in the family for years and is one of the largest full-service florists in Louisville, according to the Nanz and Kraft website.

A flower arrangement can speak a thousand emotions, and yes, I know that’s not the original quote, but it’s true nonetheless. Flowers have always been a way to show someone you’re thinking about them or thankful for something they have done. Since passing over the one-year anniversary of the first quarantine of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been reflecting on this past year. Handwritten letters and cards between long-distance family members became huge in my household, as well as sending each other flowers. They were sent for little accomplishments and big accomplishments because, if there’s one thing the pandemic has taught me, it’s that every accomplishment is worth celebrating. Eddie Kraft, one of Nanz and Kraft’s owners, said just that. “Flowers and plants have been a great way to express your feelings during the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Kraft. “Sending a flower arrangement or plant has been a really popular way for people to say ‘thinking of you’ or ‘happy Derby!’”

With the “Run for the Roses” quickly approaching, Nanz and Kraft is preparing for the influx of orders to come. “Normally, it’s people ordering who are hosting parties, sending flowers as thank yous for going to Derby, wreaths for the front door, flowers for people who are going to the parties or who are thanking them for the parties and flowers for some of the different rooms in Churchill Downs,” explained Kraft. 

Every year we watch either a garland of red roses or a garland of stargazer lilies be placed on the Derby or Oaks winner. According to the Kentucky Derby website, roses have made up the Kentucky Derby garland since 1896, but it wasn’t until 1904 that they officially became the flower of the Kentucky Derby. Similarly, the stargazer lily has been the official flower of the Kentucky Oaks since 1991, picked to represent femininity and strength, according to America’s Best Racing website. So it makes sense that red roses and stargazer lilies are the most common requests for arrangements during Derby time. 

Now for the logistics. When should you order an arrangement to make sure it arrives in time for Derby? “People start putting up wreaths in the spring, so usually they will put in a Derby wreath order a week or two ahead of time. As far as flower arrangements go, we’ve already had people who have placed some orders for parties, and Churchill Downs is placing their order as we speak. A lot of it will be the week of, people realizing they’re going to a party and they’re going to send flowers as a looking forward to the party or a thank you for the invite,” explained Kraft.

If you’re like me, I’ll be placing my order ASAP simply to check it off my list. However, if you’re more of a procrastinator, don’t worry, you still have time! Nanz and Kraft has made ordering easy for you through two different methods: online ordering or over the phone. They even have categories up on the website, such as “just because” or “get well soon,” to help you with your flower selection. Still unsure about what to order? Talk to one of their flower specialists for expert advice. Whatever flowers you order, they’re sure to be beautiful coming from Nanz and Kraft Florists.

Nanz & Kraft Florists
Main Location
141 Breckenridge Ln.
Louisville, KY 40207