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Roses Are Red. And not peach or pink, to Valentine buyers

FLORISTS look forward to Valentine's Day. For the most part, anyway. ``We love Valentine's Day, but we can't wait until it's over,'' says Rick, a floral designer with D. Wm. Quint florist in Boston. ``We know to double our amount of roses, but we can never be prepared enough for last-minute orders.''

It's the same every year. But there are also some new trends emerging, says Marvella Crabb, a spokeswoman for the Society of American Florists:

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Women buying flowers for men. The idea has been gaining ground since 1985, says Ms. Crabb, who reports that ``Most often, men receive them in the office and are quite delighted.''

More teen-agers are rising to the occasion, buying flowers for each other and their parents.

Flower consumption is up. It has risen ``dramatically'' in the past five years, says Bob Echter, president of the San Diego County Flower Growers Association. A major reason is supermarket sales, he says.

Roses are still the No. 1 flower for Valentine's Day in the United States. Some 24,000 roses were sold per minute on Feb. 14 last year in the US, says Crabb. About 70 million roses will be sold this month, of which 80 percent will be red.

But, ``When we asked women what color they would prefer in roses,'' says Crabb, ``most of them surprisingly came up with pastels ... peach, mauve, and pink.''

Florists may be busier this year than in recent ones. Valentine's Day falls on a Tuesday, rather than a weekend, so people are likely to stay in town and buy flowers, says Bill Rouvalis, owner of Rouvalis Flowers in Boston.

Mr. Rouvalis will stock plenty of red roses, but lots of other flowers, too. ``It's a romantic day, and all kinds of flowers mean different things to different people,'' he says. He may have a request for bowl of gardenias, for example. Violets are still popular, too, as they were 25 years ago when a single rose would be placed in the middle of a violet bouquet, he says.

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Making sure the flowers are ready for the holiday falls to the growers, whose preparations may begin the year before. Growers have been working extra hard for weeks, says Mr. Echter. ``You've got to quadruple production for a one-week period,'' he says.

He grows roses, carnations, and chrysanthemums, as well as trendier flowers such as lilies, gerbera daisies, and freesia.

Today's flower market is global, says Mike Mellano, whose father founded his San Diego flower-growing business in 1921. The US imports flowers from as far away as Colombia, Israel, The Netherlands, and Mexico. More than two-thirds of the roses, though, are home-grown.

But if you're looking for something different, ``how about a dozen red tulips?'' Ms. Crabb suggests. Mixed bouquets are also popular, especially as people become more knowledgeable about flowers - another trend.

But nothing beats a dozen red roses, says Rouvalis, judging from the faces of his customers. ``Really - this isn't a plug,'' he says. The ``glow'' people have when they pick up roses doesn't compare to any other. ``We see it all the time,'' he says.

To preserve that glow, you might try this formula for cut-flower bouquets suggested by Doc and Katy Abraham, nationally known horticulturists:

To one quart of water, add 1 tablespoon cane sugar, teaspoon household bleach, and 2 tablespoons citric acid (lime or lemon juice - preferably fresh). Strip off any leaves that will be submerged, and cut off the bottom half inch or so of the stems before putting them in water.


Can't find your red crayon? No problem. Glue the heart to stiff paper or cardboard (rubber cement works well) before cutting it out. Clip one of the sentiments and glue it in the space provided, or write your own.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach....

Elizabeth Barrett Browning Roses love water Ozone hates freon This card's from the heart Even though it's a free one

The `Do-it-yourself valentine kit' Feb. 7 was supposed to be a red heart, not green. Our face is red, however.

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