The best things in life may be free, but come Valentine's Day, a dozen long-stemmed roses is going to cost you. About $72 to be specific, or about 10% more than last year, thanks in part to rotten winter weather in California.
And don't expect much sympathy from your local florist. It's simply business. California growers supply 35% of the 136 million roses expected to be sold in the United States on Valentine's Day.
Most roses are grown in hothouses, where they are protected from rain but not from clouds. It was overcast for all but two days in January in Northern California, home to six of the state's seven largest rose-producing counties.
Things would be much thornier for rose buyers if South America hadn't begun shipping lots of flowers to the United States, which partly offsets the California shortfall, said Kathryn Miele, spokeswoman for the California Cut Flower Commission.
Kansas City flower shop owner Nancy McGuire said wholesalers are asking for up to $7 a stem for California roses. Some have unusually beautiful buds that open as wide as 4 inches, but the retail price would be $200 a dozen, she said.