Roses Are Red But Aussie Growers Are Blue Because You Keep Bloomin' Buying The Wrong Flowers
If you're on the hunt for flowers this Valentine's Day, local growers would like you to share the love with them too -- and buy Australian.
Last Valentine's more than nine million roses were imported to Australia in the month of February, according to the country's agriculture department.
The majority of those came from Kenya.
It's an unfortunate reality for local flower growers, with suppliers saying it's very hard to compete with the international influx.
Joe Nati, a rose grower who wholesales out of the Sydney Flower Markets, is supplying florists across NSW and the ACT. He said cost is one of the biggest factors.
"The bottom line is the dollars, the costs and wages in countries like India, Ecuador, Kenya are so much lower," he told 10 daily.
"In the last 10 to 15 years, a lot of local growers have left the industry because of production and because we can't compete with the overseas product."
Nati said it was common for Dutch rose growers, who honed their skills in the Netherlands, to move to countries such as Kenya, India and in South America to lower production costs.
Phillip Elliott, general manager at one of Australia's biggest rose growers Grandiflora, said the local rose-growing industry has struggled with the recent influx of imports because of the cost issue.
According to IBISWorld's recent Flower Retailing in Australia report, the flower industry employs more than 5,700 people across the country.
For this reason, Elliott has implored people to buy locally grown roses this Valentine's Day.
"The industry employs a lot of people ... You have got wholesalers, florists -- and retail florists because of rents, there are a lot of high street impacts by not buying local," he claimed.
Melbourne florist Kate Hill is a passionate supporter of using locally grown roses at her store.
Hill, who has worked in the industry for 23 years, explained buying locally-sourced roses removed the need for transportation and the environmental impact that comes with it.
"If you are all about the environment and being ethical, giving back to the earth, this is such a wasteful industry, it hurts your head and heart," she told 10 daily.
Nati said that 50 years ago imported roses were a rarity, but they are now needed to keep up with the demand for roses in Australia, especially ahead of Valentine's Day.
"If you stopped the imported roses, if they weren't there, places like big functions would struggle to find roses," he said.
It's a romantic dream to say we could survive on local roses.
To import roses, Nati explained the flowers are soaked in a solution of starch and sugar immediately after being picked in a process called 'pulsing'.
He said this keeps the drinking process going and stops the roses from wilting.
The roses are then placed in cooler rooms to retain freshness and can be on a plane to Australia within 48 hours of being picked.
Meanwhile, Elliott believes the "clean product" of Australian roses is what makes them so special.
"It's fresh, it hasn't been covered in pesticides and fumigants," he said.
Hill recommended shoppers to ask a local florist where their supply is from to ensure Australian roses are being bought.
"Openly communicate with them and always try to push locally grown," she said.
"Look at the length of the stem, any imported rose tends to look like they are on steroids ... they don't tend to have thorns and the foliage can look dehydrated."
But Nati said Valentine's Day is all about making people happy and having fun, and if you can't buy roses there are plenty of other "high-class" Aussie-grown flowers to choose from.
"There is never, ever, a shortage of Australian flowers," he said.
"The day is about making people happy, what's the difference if it is a rose or another flower?"
Hill also said she encourages budding Casanovas to choose from other beautiful flowers.
"But the long stem rose, it is still the flower of the day."
Feature Image: Getty