New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) Orchids and lilies, hydrangeas and heliconias, anthuriums and birds of paradise - exotic flowers all and easy to buy from the neighbourhood florist. But if it's Valentine's Day it's got to be roses, red roses.
With the global day of love just round the corner - Feb 14 - it's all about roses again. It could be the one long single stem, one dozen of those deep red blooms or a glorious profusion of 1,000, lovers will say it - and say it best - with roses.
There are options galore, from teddy bears and chocolates to diamonds and fabulous dinners. But the not-so-humble rose is what truly spells romance and should accompany them all with some lovers ready to shell out as much as Rs.25,000 for a fancy bunch of 1,000 stems.
And florists are happy to comply.
Nothing compares to "one dozen red roses", Pawan Gadia, CEO, Ferns N Petals, told IANS.
"We have lifesize arrangements and a wide variety to offer, but 12 roses in a simple bunch sells the most. Somehow, people feel if they don't get a rose on that day, they aren't loved enough," added Gadia, spokesperson of the flower chain that sells in 400 cities across 150 countries.
Phoolmandi.com, a portal which claims to offer the "most competitive rates", also sees the sales of red roses soaring on Valentine's Day.
"Only roses are a hit for Valentine's Day," Rohit Nath, owner of online flower store phoolmandi.com, told IANS.
Orders for the special day have already started trickling in.
"We have already got orders for around Rs.50,000 by now. Last year. by this time we had got orders worth Rs.80,000, we are keeping our fingers crossed for better figures this year," Nath said.
His portal is offering a variety of bouquets ranging from Rs.395 to Rs.23,000.
It's not just about romance but hardcore business as well.
According to a study by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), the floriculture industry in India is worth about Rs.3,700 crore (about $696 million) and roses account for over Rs.2,400 crore (about $451 million).
About 400 million 'cut roses' are grown across India every year and Karnataka alone accounts for about 75 percent of this. This is followed by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
During Valentine's Day and the run-up to it, the demand for roses multiplies. One stem goes for as much as Rs.25-Rs.30, almost double the Rs.12-Rs.15 usually.
So, here's some advice for all those romantics out there. If you're working around a budget, it is best to head to a real 'phool mandi', where you would get a rose at a wholesale rate of around Rs.5.
Last year, flowers worth over Rs.10 crore were sold on Valentine's Day in the capital and nearby cities like Lucknow, Jaipur, Jammu, and Patiala, said a report.
The craze for roses has a downside for those who grow other flowers.
Often, the craze around Valentine's Day turns out to be negative for flower growers, said S. Jafar Naqvi, president, Indian Flowers and Ornamental Plants Welfare Association (iFlora), who estimates that there are about 10,000 flower retailers across the National Capital Region.
According to Naqvi, in an effort to meet burgeoning demand, growers often harvest flowers even before they are properly grown. "This results in over-production and low quality roses," he said.
"The other negative is that the other flowers become out of focus and a lot of money (on the growers' part) gets wasted," added Naqvi, who feels the prices offered by street vendors differs from person to person - often depending on the vehicle he or she steps out from.
Nevertheless, none of that is a deterrent for people with a more romantic bent of mind and a big pocket.
Wedding planner Amarjyot Singh suggests lovers decorate their personal space with roses, "the most traditional romantic flowers".
Roses again then, this Valentine's Day?
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)