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Where to buy roses: Anywhere but the U.S.

Time was, California served as the nation's rose garden. Then foreign competition made things thorny for U.S. growers.

Today, the roses you are lucky enough to receive, or kind enough to give, probably came from South America. Colombia and Ecuador grow the vast majority of roses sold in the U.S. Lower costs in South America are a key reason prices for the flowers purchased here have remained the same for the past couple decades.

For long-stem-roses, New York or Los Angeles florists charge about $70 a dozen. At the grocery, store a bouquet is just $10. During most of the year, that is. On Valentine's Day, consumers can expect to pay much more ­ -- even double.

“The industry overall is very competitive,” says Ben Powell, chief operating officer of Mayesh Wholesale Florist. He says the U.S. used to buy most roses from California, but foreign competition has made things thorny for American flower farmers. "The U.S. growers of cut flowers really haven't been a major factor in roses for probably 20 years."

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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