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The Florist Rose Trade - The Most Popular Flower Sold at Florists part II

Friday, October 16, 2009


 The Florist Rose Trade - The Most Popular Flower Sold at Florists

by steve jones

Florist Rose Imports
Until recently, the Netherlands was the largest source of imported roses in America. In 1992, we visited the flower market at Aalsmeer, Netherlands. It was interesting to see the bidding and the mass of flowers being moved around. My understanding is they start with a high bid and work their way down. The building is massive. From one end of the building you cannot see the other end, it is that long. The guide told us that most of the flowers once they are bought go immediately to the airport and are flown around the world. So, many of the roses we purchase may have been in the Netherlands only a few days before.

Since then, there has been a big push from South America, especially Ecuador, to supply cheaper roses. The roses are grown outdoors and they have all the qualities of the greenhouse grown varieties.

Today, Columbia has pretty well replaced Ecuador and the Netherlands as the largest source of cut roses for the American market. Of the close to one billion stems imported into the United States, Columbia accounts for 63% of the total, Ecuador 31% and the rest of the world 6%. Columbia has transformed many of the old cocaine fields into the cut flower trade, and they export almost as many cut flowers as they do coffee. At last count, 15,000 acres are devoted to the cut flower trade. Only the Netherlands ships more cut flowers than Columbia.

Exhibiting Florist Roses
Florist roses are very popular with the exhibitors. They typically have good exhibition form with lots of petal substance to hold up for judging. However, most florist roses do not grow well outdoors. They were developed for greenhouse growing only and were never tested outside. Over the years, only a few florist roses succeeded in growing well outside the greenhouse. Sonia was the first of these. This long-time standard for peach roses did very well outside. Next was the deep red Kardinal. Perfect form, but the blooms shrink in the heat. It is still grown and wins today. One of the best specimens I have ever seen was at the 1994 national convention in San Diego. It won Queen that day. Crystalline did well outside and has become one of the top exhibition roses in the nation. In our heat, the rose wants to spray and produces a lot of thin wispy growth. It does much better in the cooler climates. Raphaela is another long-time orange florist rose that has been grown outdoors with some success. It is a terrible mildewer so you have to spray it a lot. The petals have so much substance, the exhibitors have to force the petals open while it is still on the bush. It is not for the casual gardener. A good one for our heat is Black Magic. Good form on a clean plant with long stems. Blooms can be a tad small for the show, but it is winning. Others that seem to do well outside right now are Hot Princess, Exotica and Fantasy.

Other florist roses have been tried outdoors, but few have succeeded outdoors and on the show table for very long. Roses like Leonidas, Osiana, Opulence, Perfumella, Blue Bell, Anna, Barock, Belle Rouge, Claudia, Sorbet, Orlando, Red Velvet, Corina, Duchess, Hollywood, and Vendela have pretty well come and gone.

Hybridizing Florist Roses
For the hybridizers, creating a good florist rose is a gold mine and most will test roses specifically for the greenhouse. Compared to the general rose market, the odds of hitting a good florist rose is about ten times higher than a good garden rose. When we toured Jackson & Perkins testing facility a few years back, we were told that only one maybe two will ever make it to the next cut for the florist market. Tantau of Germany has been a big producer of florist roses in recent years.

From the 1900s though the 1940s, most of the florist roses were developed by E.G. Hill. Starting in the 1950s, Jackson & Perkins created many of the florist varieties, especially roses hybridized by Eugene Boerner, in the earlier years. Most of the American florist roses today are from Jackson & Perkins and Weeks Roses.

Meanings of Rose Colors
Over time, certain rose colors had a special meaning. Here is a list of some of the more common colors and their meanings.
 Red roses mean love, passion and respect.u
 Pink roses mean happiness, appreciation, admiration, friendship and sympathy.u
 Light pink roses mean grace, joy, gentility and admiration.u
 Dark pink roses mean thankfulness.u
 Lavender roses symbolize enchantment, and love at first sight.u
 White roses mean spiritual love, virginity and purity. They can alsou mean secrecy, reverence, humility, worthiness, innocence or charm.
 Yellow roses mean friendship, joy, gladness or freedom.u
 Coral roses mean desire.u
 Peach roses mean modesty.u
 Orange roses mean a feeling of enthusiasm, desire and fascination.u
 White and red roses mixed together mean unity.u
 Red and yellow roses together mean congratulations.u
 Red and white roses mean unity.u
 Yellow and orange roses mean passionate thoughts.u
 Pink and white roses mean enduring love.u
 Black roses mean farewell or death.u
 Burgundy (and dark red) roses mean unconscious beauty or bashful.u

Also, roses have other meanings:
 A rose in general means love.u
 A single rose means “I still love you.”u
 Two roses together mean a commitment or forthcoming marriage.u
 Light colored roses mean friendship.u
 A Rosa carolina rose means love is dangerous.u
 A damask rose means brilliant complexion, bashful love.u
 A moss rosebud means confession of love.u
 A thornless rose means early attachment.u
 A wild rose means simplicity.u
 A rosebud (except red or yellow) means young girl.u
 A Rosa canina means pleasure and pain.u
 A musk rose means capricious beauty.u
 A withered white rose means death or loss of innocence.u
 12 roses mean gratitude.u
 25 roses mean congratulations.u
 50 roses mean unconditional love.u

The rose has been big in America for over a century and will continue to be the top flower for many years to come.

Steve Jones is currently the Vice President of the American Rose Society. This article is reprinted from the July/August 2004 issue of “Rose Ecstasy,” bulletin of the Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society, Kitty Belendez, Editor.

© Copyright 2004, Steve Jones, All Rights Reserved.

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