Buying dead roses for Valentine's Day

21:50, Feb 14 2013

As you reach into your back pocket to pay for that big bunch of Valentines Day roses this year, take a moment to consider the fact they may be clinically dead.

What kind of message does that send to your loved one? A disturbing one.

Every year more than 6 million cut-flower stems are imported into New Zealand, of which 2.1 million are roses. They come mostly from India where temperatures in some regions never fall below 18 degrees, meaning the cost of heated glasshouses does not often factor in the price.

Meanwhile, Kiwi growers are dealing with bitterly cold winters and enormous heating bills.

To make matters worse, these dirt-cheap roses have been treated before arriving in New Zealand to prevent the spread of pests and diseases.

Every cut flower entering New Zealand has been dipped, essentially, in Roundup.

The Ministry of Primary Industries and New Zealand Biosecurity has strict guidelines for cut flowers. They may seem harmless enough, but in the wrong rose- enthusiast's hands, they can be deadly.

MPI plant import/export manager Stephen Butcher said the use of glyphosate (Roundup) was a security measure which basically killed the stems before they hit our shores.

"Glyphosate does devitalise the plant, so has some effect on the vitality of the cut flower, " he said.

"The treatment reduces the likelihood the plant will be propagated accidentally."

So while our borders are being defended from enthusiasts growing rose bushes from Indian flower cuttings, romancers are busy buying dead flowers.

Moffatt's Flower Company sales and marketing manager Gerald Davies said not only were foreign prices undercutting locals, customers were buying a sub- standard product.

The imported rose, already dead, may last only three days in a vase. Buy local, and he says your bunch will last a couple of weeks.


Gerald Davies

(Live Matches)