World’s Tallest Roses

Fsb_cover Here’s something that surprised me about the cut flower industry:  there is no obvious, high-end, luxury flower for flower buyers to crave. 

I mean, you’ll find beautiful, fresh, seasonal, interesting, unusual flowers here and there, but there’s no Dom Perignon of flowers.  No Rolls Royce.  No one flower that everyone can point to and say, "Yes, that is the ultimate flower.  When you really want to make an impression, that’s what you go for."  For the average person, the closest they can get would be to order "long-stemmed red roses."  But is that really a very big deal?  You can get long-stemmed red roses at the grocery store.

And I think this is an important point. There are people out there (like me) who may not be wealthy, but who like their little indulgences.  I’ll happily spend eight bucks on a chocolate bar, or thirty bucks on a little bottle of truffle oil.  I love that stuff.

And then there are people who just really need to make a big impression.  They don’t want a $29.99 bouquet, and they’d probably think you were wasting their time if you tried to sell them one.  They want to spend a couple hundred bucks for a major "wow" factor.

So a couple months ago, Organic Bouquet’s Gerald Prolman told me that he was going to start selling six-foot-long Ecuadorian roses.  They’re grown at Nevado Ecuador, a farm I visited when I was doing research for the book, and environmentally certified through the VeriFlora program, and they are extraordinary.  I’ve seen them in person:  once I carried a single stem around in San Francisco (an experience I describe in Flower Confidential) and I literally stopped traffic.

How do they grow flowers this tall?  Luck.  Location.  Nevado just noticed that a few of their varieties grew on unusually long stems, so they decided to see how far they could push it.  The farm’s right on the equator, at a high altitude, creating the perfect conditions for jumbo roses.  They can use shade cloths to control the light and keep the flowers from blooming too soon, and they even use little mesh caps (called condones in Spanish) to keep the buds closed while the stems get longer.

I wrote a story about these new roses, and it landed on the cover of the December issue of Fortune Small Business magazine.  To find out more about the roses, check out Organic Bouquet’s site.  And now:  what do you think?  Is it foolish to pay twenty bucks a stem for roses, or is it, in fact, the supreme declaration of love?