Romantic New Zealanders are expected to purchase as many as 600,000 roses for February 14. But half of all of those roses will come from other parts of the world, New Zealand’s Flower Growers Association says.
The beautiful buds have been making long journeys from India and Columbia ahead of the demand for roses expected on Valentine’s Day.
Local growers alone can’t meet this demand and so flowers are imported to make up for the shortfall.
Unfortunately, though, flowers will sometimes be imported from countries with questionable worker conditions, such as Zimbabwe, Colombia or Kenya, where plantation workers can be forced to work up to 12 hours a day for less than one dollar, handle dangerous chemicals without protective gear and live in cramped, unsafe conditions.
Also, strict biosecurity regulations say that any foreign flowers need to be dipped in herbicide for at leats 20 minutes, in order to safeguard the local flora and fauna.
But this treatment causes the flowers to lose their ‘freshness’, resulting in a less than desirable look the next day. Rogue batches – which haven’t been treated properly – could also pose a threat, bringing with them pests and diseases, says David Blewden, the association’s head.
“We’ve had several instances of this and the risks to our industry, and to home gardeners, are huge,” Blewden told reporters.
Local growers will also lose out, with competition for roses driving prices down.
Unfortunately there is no real way consumers can distinguish between local and imported flowers. So, they must rely on florists and those selling flowers to be honst and truthful about where their flowers have come from.
If you’re stuck on what kind of flowers to buy your special loved one on Valentine’s Day, Sydney Markets has the following tips:
Roses: Red roses are the universal way of saying “I love you” and are a symbol of love and romance. If you don’t want to go down the traditional route this Valentine’s Day, you could also buy a bouquet of pink, lavender or yellow roses. Just remember, yellow roses are typically a sign of a platonic friendship!
Gerberas: These cheery blooms usually symbolise beauty, innocence and purity. With so many hues to choose from, gerbera daisies are sure to brighten your loved ones day.
Tulips: If you’re looking for flowers to declare your love, but don’t want to break the bank, then tulips are an excellent choice. These simple, yet elegant blooms will be sure to warm any heart.
Lilies: These classic buds are another great alternative to red roses. While lilies usually stand for beauty and style, while pink lilies represent friendship and devotion. Whatever colour you choose, lilies are a sophisticated choice for Valentine’s Day.