It’s all roses

Florists who have felt the effect of a tight economy are looking forward to Valentine’s Day to boost their sells.

Valentine’s Day has always been the busiest holiday of the year for flower shops, said Janet Davis, owner of Hilly Fields Florists & Gifts; located on Apalachee Parkway. Mother’s Day is the second busiest holiday.

“No matter how bad the economy is, people are always going to buy flowers,” Davis said.

The average consumer will spend $122.98 to celebrate Valentine’s Day – but not all on flowers – reported a survey by the National Retail Federation.

Hilly Fields Florists & Gifts received its first order for Valentine’s Day in mid-January. Davis encouraged people to place orders early. The earlier you put your order in, the better the selection, she said.

Red roses are the No. 1 item for Valentine’s Day said Cindy Crawford, owner of Busy Bee Florist.

The American Rose Society’s Web site said red roses symbolize love and respect.

Gift buyers can expect to spend at least $75 for a dozen roses. During the off-peak season – summer and fall – a dozen roses may cost about $55. But when buying roses for Valentine’s Day, customers pay 30 to 40 percent more. The same is true for other floral arrangements.

The higher price of flowers at the local level is a result of price hikes by nursery wholesalers. “The demand of roses” drives up the prices, said Paula Rumpf, sales representative for Nelson’s Florida Roses, a wholesaler in Apopka.

“The demand is so great that the price does go up, and people will buy them no matter what price they pay,” Rumpf said.

Davis said 2007’s third quarter hit local flower shops the hardest. She described sales as “really, really slow and bad.”

Lisa Hornbuckle, sales manager for Artistic Flowers on Miccosukee Road, said, “A lot of people are watching what they spend their money on right now. Sales have definitely been down, but we are still doing fine.”

Hornbuckle said shopping online through corporate florists, such as, takes money from local florists.

Davis urged the local community not to use what she calls the “online order gatherer” service to buy flowers. She said those companies charge a service fee for buying online, then contract local florists to make and send the flowers while making most of the profits.

“To get personalized attention and a say-so in what you’re getting, local flower shops are always your best bet,” Davis said.

To learn more about rose color and symbolism, visit