"The rose is the ultimate symbol of love that you can give to a woman. If you don't carry roses at Valentine's Day, you aren't going to do very well." So says Ronnie of Bloomfield, and he has a point. The red, red rose reigns supreme for Valentine's Day and new varieties are taking on the established names.
Ian Armitt of Alagar is tipping 'Freedom' to be the front-runner this year.
Ken Seal of SR Allen reckons that 'Red Naomi' will be the bestseller (below, as seen in February's Flower Market Report) and that it lasts particularly well, whilst Ronnie of Bloomfield finds that 'Grand Prix' still has the edge.
Which variety people go for depends a lot on the type of shop, stall and customers our buyers have," explains Ronnie. "'Grand Prix' still commands a good price, and the sort of retail customer who is happy to spend on 'Grand Prix' will buy a bunch of them, not just a single stem."
Mind you, ask Ronnie to tell you his favourite rose, and his is the classic wholesaler's response: "The ones that are selling!"
If you fancy taking a stand and breaking the mould, look for sensational spring flowers – tulips, muscari, narcissi, lily of the valley and hyacinths – to spread the love with delicious perfumes on what looks like being a pretty grey February day.
The Valentine's Day Price Dilemma
Florists, and the buying public, always complain that the price of red roses rockets at Valentine's Day. But since the entire world celebrates Valentine's Day on 14 February, the cost is a simple question of supply and demand.
Ken Seal reports that Dutch prices are on the rise this year, but much will depend on the last-minute choices by Flower Market buyers as you respond to customer demand. If your rose stocks need topping up at the eleventh hour, don't forget that the Flower Market will be open to 11am on Thursday 14 February and that Nine Elms Lane is now fully open to traffic again.
How to pick the freshest roses
"The quality and freshness of your flowers on Valentine's Day is crucial," says Ronnie. "If you sell a bad batch of flowers, your customers will never forgive you."
"Take a good look at the roses, not just top down but from the sides too. There should be no visible imperfections, and look for the 'glow'. If you spot any bruised, damaged or brown petals, don't touch it. Look elsewhere."
"Don't feel the need to squeeze the roseheads. Unless you've squeezed hundreds of them over time, you won't really be able to feel the difference, and you are just damaging the petals."
Surveying the Roses
What will your top-seller be this year? Once you've had time to catch your collective breaths after Valentine's Day, we will be asking you what sold best for you, and seeing whether we can spot a trend…..