FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2005
Winter brings the season of red, at least in terms of flowers, says a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
"Red poinsettias, red carnations, and, yes, red roses will be in demand beginning with the holiday season and building to a crescendo at Valentine's Day," says Susan Grupp. "With roses, especially, it is important to be an informed consumer."
Most roses sold in the United States are grown either in Columbia or Venezuela, she notes. While both countries grow roses, Columbia might be better known for red roses and Venezuela for other colors. These roses are cut and flown primarily through Miami, Florida and then distributed to the stores that sell them.
"Today, these stores not only include traditional florist shops but grocery stores, discount stores, and even gas stations," says Grupp. "Roses are everywhere; prices are everywhere, but not necessarily for the same rose."
Grading of roses comes both before and after they are harvested. First, at the grower's farm, the rose it put into one of three categories--Grade 1, a tight rose bud; Grade 2, the bud has begun to open; and Grade 3, open cut.
"Interestingly, the American market has a love affair with Grade 1," Grupp says. "Americans love 'rose buds,' but this is the hardest stage at which to guarantee the rose will open. In fact, if the bud is too tight, it may not open at all.
"What the American consumer might call a 'blown rose,' is actually the fully developed or opened flower, as nature intended it. People in Russia love these opened roses and the majority of roses sold there are Grade 3 roses from South America. What do they know that we don't?"
Interestingly, she adds, roses that are properly handled by the grower and the retailer will likely last the same amount of time for the consumer whether they are a Grade 2 or 3 rose and the Russian consumer will buy an opened rose and not a bud.
Beyond this initial grading, roses are then grouped by length. Centimeters are used and the most common lengths are 40cm, 50cm, 60cm, 70cm, and 80cm.
"Length dictates price because of the grower's effort needed to promote a longer stem," she says. "Also, special packaging must be used when shipping extra-long stems."
Color is another important factor in selecting roses.
"Men overwhelmingly buy red for gift-giving. But surprisingly, women just as overwhelmingly buy colors when they are buying roses for themselves," says Grupp. "So men aren't from Mars and women from Venus; they're from Columbia and Venezuela."
Valentine's Day rose shoppers should know that the price of the rose, wherever it's purchased, is strongly based on the length of the stem. And, purchasing a fresh rose with the bud slightly cracked open, instead of a tight BUD will help ensure that all the roses continue their full blooming cycle.
"Choose a rose with good color," Grupp recommends. "Avoid roses with blackened petals or wilted foliage. A good rose can be had at any price, depending on length, but the sentiment is always the same."
Source: Susan Grupp, Extension Educator, Environmental Science, email@example.com