One of the most important dates for the flower business is Valentine’s Day, and without a doubt the protagonists of this date, are the flowers, especially the red roses. They make their journey from the volcanic lands of the Andes, so that the lovers and all those who celebrate friendship and love can count on the most beautiful flowers that day.
How Do Flower Growers Prepare for Valentine’s Day?
The roses from Virgin Farms for Valentine’s Day come mainly from the Ecuadorian floriculture, which are planted at the altitude of 3,000 meters. At this level, the temperature in these areas is approximately 57.2 ° F.
In this equatorial region, the sun’s rays fall perpendicularly on the rose plantations for 12 hours a day, and this makes the color of the roses more intense and their button size larger, which is why these roses are considered the most alluring in the world.
To learn more about how our cut rose suppliers are preparing for this date, we had the pleasure of talking with Rafael Santillán from Flower Fest, who explained in detail how farms prepare to supply the high demand for flowers on the 14th of February.
It should be noted that roses are produced year-round, but the highest demand for roses is for Valentine’s Day. It all begins by prepping the land for the rose plants. The soil is disinfected, and the rose beds are created for the planting process. The beds measure an average of 31 cm in depth, and the distance between each plant is 15 to 17 cm. After this, the plant begins to sprout. The flowering cycle lasts between 3 to 4 months depending on the variety.
Throughout the flowering stage of a rose bush, the rose has a very vegetative life. During this time, the stem hardens, and the leaves and the thorns become larger making its appearance more enhanced. At this phase, the rose’s button size is more substantial with an incredibly striking color. It is thought that for February 14th planting is increased, but this is not so. Instead, the procedure for pruning the bushes is modified. This operation begins in mid-October, when the most significant number of stems and smaller sprouts are left in the rose bush, which will grow again and bloom the last days of January and first days of February.
Throughout the year, about 1 to 1.1 roses are produced per plant, per month. For Valentine’s Day, three roses per plant are produced for the Valentine’s Day harvest, which gives a reference for engineers throughout the year to plan and optimize the most significant production for February. The date of cutting the stems at the precise aperture is what guarantees that the flowers are ready on the required date. This process is a combination of science and knowledge that Ecuadorian floriculturists have obtained in more than 50 years of floriculture in Ecuador.
Once this cut has been made, the flowers begin to bloom from the end of December and reach their optimum opening point between January 15 and February 3 and are dispatched to the United States between January 25 and 28. Flowers will be on the market before February 12, the date on which roses are already being sold for Valentine’s Day.
How Do You Guarantee That the Flowers Have a Greater Durability in a Vase?
Many factors should be considered to obtain quality flowers that guarantee the quality and duration of the roses in a vase. Among the main ones, we can highlight the fact that Virgin Farms purchases flowers directly from the farms. These, in turn, possess the highest quality standards. Our suppliers have certified processes when watering the plantations. They have the appropriate hydration solutions so that our customers have roses free of bacteria, diseases, or parasites.
The Transport of the Flower Is a Race Against Time
In addition to the entire production and post-harvest process, there are other factors to ensure that the flowers have the best possible durability. One of them is transport, and the other is the cold chain. For this reason, floriculturists have adequate facilities and are owners of the entire cold chain, which ranges from when roses are in the floriculture in the cold room until they are shipped to their destination. This process is why, in trucks where flowers are transported, the temperature must be constant between 35 ° to 39 ° F so that the flowers do not wilt. Another fundamental aspect of transport is the humidity of the air, the same air that is measured with special sensors to guarantee the ideal humidity.
Once the flowers have left the farm, they are transported via air to the United States. The shipments of roses arrive at the Quito airport, which is located about two hours from the floricultural sector.
This airport is specialized for the transport of floral cargo, which has a platform with extensive terminal areas to simultaneously park large aircrafts for the transport of roses. One of the advantages of this terminal is that it is located at 2,800 meters above sea level. The shipment is delivered to the terminal at dawn at a temperature of 53.6 ° F. Therefore, when the roses leave the inspection and pre-shipment rooms, their temperature does not vary significantly.
When the flowers arrive at the cargo terminal, the employees quickly transport the boxes to the vehicles, weigh them, measure them, take their temperature, and finally place them on pallets. One by one, the packages are loaded forming blocks that are arranged with molds. Another group of employees awaits shipments in the cold room. On this site, the flowers remain an hour and a half, until they can be embarked on cargo planes, which are also refrigerated. One of the cargo aircrafts that is used is the KLM Boeing 747, which can carry approximately 90 tons of flowers.
Without a doubt, being able to transport flowers to their destination is a race against time, but that is done methodically with standards and established procedures so that the flowers reach their destination in the shortest possible time.
When the transport arrives at the terminal in Miami, the flowers are immediately refrigerated in a cooling facility to maintain their duration.
Roses for Every Preference
The flowers preferred by the consumer to give on this date are red roses, but there are also pink, fuchsia, and spray roses (mini roses). Many bouquets for Valentine’s Day are complemented with white roses and gyp, a filler that takes on a significant role because it is the perfect complement to harmonize and fill the bouquets. The most popular varieties for this occasion are Freedom for its bright red color; Explorer, with a darker red hue; Hearts, that is a heart-shaped rose; Pink Nena and Sophie, which is praised for its pale, pink hue. Fuchsia roses also take center stage for Valentine’s Day, notably the Pink Floyd and the Topaz rose variety that are characterized by their bright color.
The Virgin Farms team, together with our strategic allies, work continuously and months in advance to ensure that all our customers have the best roses to celebrate love and friendship on February 14th—Valentine’s Day.