The red rose is synonymous with Valentine’s Day. ANASUYA MENON has the info on the varieties of roses available in city and its demand on this day

Even amid a joyful frill of lilies, marigold, carnations, chrysanthemums and blue daisies, the eyes still tend to seek out the red rose. Elegant, its petals like taut leather and colour a heartbreakingly beautiful red, one feels all the hype surrounding the flower exists for a reason.

“The rose never goes out of demand. It is just there. And it will always be,” says Vijayan, who works at Fashion Flower Mart in Kochi’s Flower Junction. Business is good and a few orders for roses are expected on Valentine’s Day, he says. The shop, which is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., however, shows off a proud display of carnations, gladioli, gerbera and orchids. The roses, in a small cluster, have been stacked neatly on a shelf. “For Valentine’s, we will be bringing in a little more than the usual number of roses,” he adds.

Most flower dealers in the city get their roses from Bangalore. Some are brought from Hosur, Ooty and Pune, too. They are packed in small bunches of 15 or 20 and transported in tourist buses. Since these are hybrid varieties, the roses can withstand a fair amount of travel stress. “They are wrapped in small cardboard cases, so their freshness and scent are retained,” says Vijayan.

Owing to its sturdiness and visual appeal, the Dutch Rose seems to be the most popular. This is also the variety that almost every florist in the business stocks. “These flowers are always in demand, because they last for about three days,” says A.M. Sasi, who owns a flower shop at Flower Junction. He pulls out a long-stalked rose from a bunch and explains: “Just look at these petals. They are soft, yet strong and the colour — a deep velvety red — is what makes it special.” He uses thermocol boxes to preserve jasmine, tuberose (a white-coloured, sweet smelling flower) and other varieties. The Dutch rose, he repeats, doesn’t require any of this fuss. He throws a bunch of them into a bucket.

A single Dutch Rose usually costs Rs. 10. However, during Valentine’s week, prices go up to Rs. 20. Depending on quality and length of the stalk, these roses are classified into Grade A and B, too. A medium bouquet (with 20 roses) and a few greens wrapped in glass paper can cost up to Rs. 400, says Sheeba Philip, who runs Fresh Cut, a flower shop at Kadavanthra. “And people don’t mind spending on these roses,” she says. The flower of the season, however, is the Taj Mahal. It is the most coveted among roses, says Unnikrishnan, a florist at Valanjambalam. The flowers are bigger and have a longer shelf life. One stalk has been priced at Rs. 20, but on special occasions, it can even go up to Rs. 40. Unnikrishnan gets his Taj Mahal roses from Hyderabad.

For weddings

Valentine’s may bring in a few orders here and there, but florists say they depend on the wedding season for the big break. “Rose garlands are extremely popular now and people are increasingly opting for the rose,” says Vijayan. These “exotic” garlands are made of red rose petals and they cost up to Rs. 6,000 a pair, as they are labour intensive and use a number of roses depending on the size and weight of the garland.

Red is the colour of the season, but it is not the only colour. Yellow, pink, light orange, peach and white roses are extremely popular too. Each colour signifies a particular emotion. According to the florists in the city, red is for love, yellow for friendship, white for weddings and deaths and orange for decorative purposes. New mothers are always given pink roses, says Unnikrishnan. Pink is the colour for brides, too. While the groom can pin a yellow rose to his lapel, Sheeba says. Though roses are grown in Kerala, they are largely considered unsuitable for bouquets and arrangements, flower dealers believe. The petals wither soon and the colour is not deep enough to tug at heartstrings, especially when the rose has to look as red as your love.