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Love flowers? This SLO County company is America’s main grower of cut roses

How to make Valentine’s Day roses last longer than ever

Buy flowers from a good florist, and cut stems at an angle under water if they ever go dry.
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Buy flowers from a good florist, and cut stems at an angle under water if they ever go dry.

Searching for the perfect rose for your Valentine? Look no farther than Nipomo.

Eufloria Flowers, based in southern San Luis Obispo County, is one of the nation’s premier growers of premium cut roses. The award-winning company’s beautiful blooms have graced such prestigious events as presidential inaugurations, the Kentucky Derby and the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

Founded in 1984 by sixth-generation rose grower Andy Koch, Eufloria now produces 4 to 5 million rose stems a year in 350,000 square feet of greenhouses. The company employs 35 to 40 workers.

For the past couple of months, Eufloria’s staff has been busy working to bring their hothouse divas to perfection just in time for Valentine’s Day — the nation’s No. 1 floral holiday, when roses make up 84 percent of U.S. flower sales.

Eufloria’s offerings go far beyond traditional red roses, said Andy Koch, the company’s owner and founder.

“Eufloria is different types and colors of cut roses” in artful floral arrangements, he said. “Mixed bouquets — that is who we are.”

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Eufloria Flowers in Nipomo produces about 150 different rose varieties. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Eufloria grows about 150 different rose varieties, from traditional teas to old-fashioned, English garden-style roses in colors to suit almost any taste.

Increasingly, Koch said, clients are moving beyond classic red to picking colors that match their home décor or their personal tastes.

Eufloria’s most popular sellers this season include True Love, a striking pink rose with a hint of yellow opening to reveal a ruffled center, and Matador, a deep red, old-fashioned rose, said Sylvia Balerio, Eufloria bouquet maker. Also a hit is Grande, a deep burgundy/wine-colored rose.

According to Koch, Valentine’s Day is no longer Eufloria’s top-selling holiday. (That title now belongs to Mother’s Day.) Cheaper South American imports have made huge inroads into flower sales over the past decade and now account for about 90 percent of cut roses sold in the United States.

“Our business peaked in 2000,” Koch said. “It’s not coming back.”

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True Love, a pink rose with a ruffled center, is one of the most popular sellers for Eufloria Flowers in Nipomo. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

In fact, Eufloria is now the sole remaining American company to exclusively grow cut roses.

Increased labor, water, and natural gas prices are putting additional pressure on domestic growers. For example, Koch said he shelled out $60,000 for gas heating in December 2018, when gas prices increased threefold.

Rather than struggle to compete against subsidized foreign imports, some local growers are finding it more profitable to sell or lease their greenhouses to cannabis business owners, Koch said, noting that the value of his property has increased since the arrival of marijuana growers in the South County.

In his eyes, it’s like “our government is telling us to grow marijuana,” he said.

To stay afloat, Eufloria has expanded into the retail trade through a total of 14 farmers markets in San Luis Obispo County, Santa Maria and Los Angeles. The company also supplies flowers to the wedding and event trade – now its top sales category.

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Eufloria Flowers in Nipomo grows about 150 different rose varieties. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

In addition, Koch said, he’s invested $1 million over the past two years on new equipment — replacing greenhouse roofs, adding energy curtains and recycling 100 percent of Eufloria’s water.

“Our family’s been growing roses going back 200 years starting in Denmark,” Koch said, but he’ll likely be the last generation to do so.

Koch said he’s not encouraging his children to follow in his footsteps, believing they’ll find better business opportunities elsewhere. Instead, he hopes his employees will continue the company he started.

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Eufloria Flowers in Nipomo produces 4 to 5 million rose stems a year in 350,000 square feet of greenhouses. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Tips for longer-lasting cut roses

For beautiful, long-lasting blooms, follow these tips from Eufloria Flowers in Nipomo.

  • Fill your vase about two-thirds full with fresh water. Add the floral preservative that comes with your roses, following measurements on packet.

  • Trim at least one inch off bottom of each stem at 45-degree angle using a sharp knife or shears before you add flowers to the vase.

  • Strip any leaves below water line to minimize bacteria.

  • Avoid bacterial growth by changing water every one to three days, or whenever water gets cloudy. Water may need to be changed more often on warm days.

  • Keep roses in a cool place, away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight.

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Silvia Balerio cuts stems and arranges flowers at Eufloria Flowers in Nipomo. The business specializes in premium cut roses. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Eufloria Flowers

For more information about Eufloria Flowers in Nipomo, visit eufloriaflowers.com.

Leslie Stevens lives in San Luis Obispo and has been gardening and writing about the area for nearly 20 years. If you know of a special garden or gardening event worth sharing, please contact her at lesloscrib50@gmail.com. Please allow a minimum of six weeks from the event.
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