Ask The Hort Agent: Valentine Roses

  • Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 9:26 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, February 7, 2014 9:30 a.m.

Question: What is the deal with roses and Valentine's Day?

Answer: The government has special covert agencies trying to break the floral arrangement code.  They have figured out the following:

First, the type of flower matters.  Since roses have been a symbol of love for hundreds of years, they rank high on the Valentine's Day list.  Ancient Romans associated roses with their goddesses of love – Venus.  Cupid was the son of Venus.  Ironically, Cupid and roses have prominent roles in Valentine's Day and Venus does not.

Roses were also used to represent confidentiality.  The Latin expression “sub rosa” (under the rose) means something told in secret.  Roses are the June birth flower, the 15th wedding anniversary flower and the national flower of the United States.

Second, the color of rose matters.  Everybody knows red roses mean “I love you.”  However, pink roses can mean anything from “I like you a lot” to “Thanks for all you do.”  While white roses can say “You are heavenly,” black roses say “Go to ….. square one.  We are through.”  Yellow roses are typically not used during Valentine's Day, since they say “Congratulations,” “Welcome Back,” or “Remember Me.”  However, they can represent jealousy.

Different combinations of colors are harder to figure out.  White and yellow roses signify harmony.  Red and white rose combination communicates unity, an engagement or a NC State fan.  Black and yellow roses signify the wrath of a jilted lover is soon to follow.  Multicolored combinations say “I like Grateful Dead music as much as you.”

Lastly, the number of roses communicates a message.  A single rose can depict utmost devotion to a single person or a cheap spouse.  Six roses denote a need to be loved or cherished.  Thirteen roses indicate a silent admirer.  365 roses signify love that is constant throughout the year.  1001 roses say your love and money will live forever.  

This information can be used to determine which message you wish to send on Valentine's Day.  It can also be used as evidence in a police investigation.  

By the way, February is a good time to prune roses.  For more info on pruning roses, visit  If you don't have internet access or you have further questions, email or call me (910) 893-7530.   

If the Valentine's Day rose decision is too difficult, then maybe a love song would be more special and convey your feelings with less code. Here is a suggestion -   
Gary Pierce, Horticulture Agent
Harnett County Cooperative Extension

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