Red Roses at Valentine’s – so what’s the verdict?

Written by Alastair Owen
February 29, 2012

No matter whether customers want to grow their own or are fans of the locally grown, imported red rose still reigns supreme on Valentine's Day. It is February after all.

Once again millions of stems were sold as growers around the world ramped up production and trusted that their logistic networks would again take the strain in that narrow window of opportunity.

We talked to five top wholesalers at New Covent Garden Flower Market to learn what trends they observed this Valentine's Day, and which varieties proved to be their bestsellers.

Three varieties emerged as the frontrunners, but it was a mixed picture between the traders. Freedom was the bestseller for wholesaler Alagar, whilst Grand Prix remained the top selling Valentine's Day rose for John Austin, DG Wholesale and Bloomfield with customers requesting longer stemmed roses (90-100cm), according to Eric of John Austin.

Interestingly, DG Wholesale noticed that demand for Red Naomi outstripped Grand Prix for the first time ever. John Hardcastle of Bloomfield also noticed a big shift toward Red Naomi: "It was a very close thing this year," says John.

"Our customers are clearly making the transition to Red Naomi, the more recent introduction, and away from Grand Prix, which has been around for decades."

Rumours abound are that crops of Grand Prix will be lifted over the next year amidst talk of licensing issues and the comparative strengths of new varieties.

Austin Clark, Editor of the Florist & Wholesale Buyer Magazine reports that Red Naomi, "which was far and away the biggest seller this year, doesn't require the same levels of light, care and chemicals as Grand Prix, offers a more reliable grade (so suits pre-sale), transports better and is cheaper to buy at root stock stage. So therefore the growers are switching over anyway."

So what about florists? What were their bestsellers?

"Red Naomi, definitely,” says Paul Thomas, who reports a bumper Valentine's Day in his Mayfair studio.

"I think it helped that the weather was so much better this February, and, of course, that it was a Tuesday rather than a Monday. The later in the week the better for us. When Valentine's Day falls on a Friday, that's always fantastic!"

Leanne Roberts-Hewitt of Wild About says that Grand Prix was their Valentine's Day rose in their Clerkenwell and Twickenham stores, with staff working through the night to fulfil a boom in last minute orders.

What was the bestselling rose for you this year? Click here and let us know.


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