Ah, Valentine’s Day is coming.

The most romantic holiday of all, at least for the 55% of Americans who actually celebrate it. Though nearly half of us DON’T participate in a meaningful way, those who do, apparently do it up BIG.

According to Forbes Magazine, consumer spending on Valentine’s Day is third only to Christmas and Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day comes in around $23.5 billion and Valentine’s Day is not far behind at just under $20 billion. (Yes, BILLION. On Valentine’s Day. WOW.)

What are these spenders buying?

According to the National Retail Federation, on Valentine’s Day in 2017 almost $2,000,000,000 (that’s 2 BILLION!) was spent on flowers alone!

That is A LOT of flowers – and an upwards of 250 MILLION roses alone! But that’s really no big surprise, as the classic red rose is as much a part of Valentine’s Day as a chubby-cheeked cherub.

Yet, when that gorgeous dozen (or two!) arrives, fresh and flawless, most people don’t think twice about where they started and how they arrived. Their attention is on the flower’s perfect beauty and of course, their admirer.

So, from where will your rose start its journey this year?

While it’s not surprising that so many flowers are sent on Valentine’s Day, it may come as a surprise that almost all of the long-stemmed roses sold in the United States come from South America. Most of those roses come from Columbia and Ecuador. It is known that some of the world’s finest coffee grows exceedingly well there, and this same climate produces millions of the finest flowers as well.

Did you know: roses grow perfectly straight only near the equator, where the sun shines perpendicular to the plants. How cool is that?

Now that we’ve sourced the roses, how do they get from hot and humid South America to points across the United States before they bloom, wilt and die? To waste the life of a long-stemmed rose otherwise destined for greatness in her eyes would be tragic!!

Talk about time-sensitive, fragile freight!

It’s a big-time logistical challenge with a 10-12 day “make or break” window to go from harvest in South America to a vase somewhere near you. It goes without saying that fresh roses must not arrive too early and be opened too soon. Or even worse, turn brown in the days leading up to this most romantic holiday.

It’s such a perfect balance of the rose’s transition from life to death and the truck, trains, and planes that deliver this annual delight is critical. That only is achieved through the most rigorous logistics standards and reliable equipment.

An exacting refrigeration “cold chain” is a must. It ensures the flowers remain “dormant” in bud-status past the initial delivery to wholesalers. The woody perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae, must then remain in its suspended state long enough to make it to the retailers. Then to the homes and offices of their adoring fans everywhere.

The most classic presentation of the long-stemmed rose is, after all, a tightly-closed bud that will open gradually after reaching its final destination.

So what does the journey of a long-stemmed rose look like, through the experienced eye of the billion-dollar floral industry?

As you can see, it is an amazing journey that long-stemmed roses take, from the first fields to their final stop.

The next time you buy or receive a beautiful bouquet, take a moment to say “THANK YOU!” to the international team of transportation and logistics men and women who make it happen!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!


Thanks to C.H. Robinson for the infographic.