14 Fun Facts About Valentine's Day Flowers

Red Valentine Roses

Tom Merton / OJO Images / Getty Images

Valentine's Day gift-giving just wouldn't be the same without fresh flowers. Whether you're presenting your beloved with a freshly cut bouquet, a flowering plant basket, or a single long-stemmed rose, flowers are central to the most romantic day of the year. Here are 14 things you may not know about the annual custom of giving flowers on Valentine's Day.

Romantic Floral Traditions

  • The Greeks believed that red roses came from Aphrodite, the goddess of love. It's no wonder they are still the top-selling Valentine's Day flower.
  • The custom of gifting flowers (and specifically red roses) as an annual gesture of love can be traced back to the late seventeenth century when King Charles II of Sweden discovered that flowers have poignant symbolic meaning. Giving red roses to loved ones on Valentine's Day became a trend in the Victorian Era and never went away.

The Meaning of Numbers

  • Is one the loneliest number? Not when it comes to roses, where any number of them can make a specific statement. A gift of a single rose says that the recipient is the only one. Increase that elegant gift to three roses if you wish to say, "I love you." A gift of 11 roses means that the giver is the missing flower in the dozen. Finally, an extravagant gift of three dozen long-stemmed roses says that the giver's heart belongs to the recipient.
  • To make the cut as a long-stemmed rose for Valentine’s Day, the flower must have a stem length of 24 to 36 inches and a blossom diameter of two to four inches. These special roses are cultivated using specific pruning techniques and strict greenhouse climate controls.
  • A staggering 250 million roses are produced for Valentine's Day every year. That's a lot of love! And according to the National Retail Federation, around 36% of the approximately $20 billion dollars spent on Valentine's Day in 2020 went to flowers.

Beyond the Red Rose

  • Roses continue to dominate the Valentine’s Day gift market in the United States, but in Denmark, the tradition is to exchange dainty white snowdrop flowers. Make the most of short-stemmed flowers by including them in a corsage, a way to express love and appreciation for other special loved ones in our lives like moms and daughters. 
  • The language of love goes beyond red roses, which make up around 69% of Valentine's Day flower sales. You can communicate specific feelings and desires to your loved ones with the traditional meaning of flowers: Send gardenias to your secret love, or purple larkspur to your first love.
  • Want to combine a gift of chocolate and flowers? Foil-covered chocolate roses aren't the only option. Chocolate scented orchids offer lasting blooms and sweet fragrance. Oncidium Sharry Baby orchids can fill a room with a rich cocoa scent over their two to three month bloom time.
  • Where’s the fragrance? The hybrid roses produced for the Valentine’s Day market are bred for perfect form and longevity in the vase, often at the expense of the fragrance. If you don’t have access to homegrown heirloom roses, consider asking your florist to mix fragrant freesias, scented stock, or Oriental lilies in with your rose bouquet
  • The top 10 cut flower imports during the Valentine season are, in order:
  1. Roses
  2. Mixed bouquets
  3. Dianthus
  4. Pompom chrysanthemum
  5. Mini dianthus
  6. Rose bouquets
  7. Alstroemeria
  8. Chrysanthemum
  9. Hydrangea
  10. Gerbera daisies

Flower Shopping Stats

  • Not all Valentine's Day flowers come from South America. California is the leading producer of domestically produced cut flowers, accounting for about three-quarters of the wholesale value produced in the U.S.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection screens millions of imported Valentine's Day flowers for pests and diseases annually. Commonly intercepted pests include thrips, moths, and aphids. The bulk of these flowers enter the U.S. through Miami and Los Angeles during the Valentine season of January 1 through February 14. Valentine's Day is the second busiest day of the year for cut flower imports, second only to Mother's Day.
  • Being single doesn't mean you have to skip out on the holiday fun. Studies show that around 15% of women buy flowers for themselves on Valentine's Day.
  • Valentine’s Day is a bigger payday for florists when it falls on a weekday. Floral gift-givers tend to send better flower arrangements to the recipient’s office, where the flowers can fall under the gaze of more admiring eyes.