By Jill Brooke
Red roses are getting some competition in the love department.
Its new cultural rival? Toffee/taupe-colored roses.
In the past year, rose farms are quadrupling production, sales have surged and florists can’t get enough of them.
These roses not only represent multi-colorism but reflect the growing trends in marriage.
According to the Pew Research Center, 17% of all marriages in 2022 were of mixed races and ethnicities. The toffee/taupe roses are perfect choices to represent that cultural shift. It’s no longer just white roses at the wedding or for the wedding bouquet.
Joey Azout, president of Alexandra Farms, which produces David Austin roses among other brands, says “sales of sand, toffee, and nude color roses now make up 30% of the color assortment.”
Anticipating the growing popularity of this color wave, Rosaprima Roses also introduced RP Moab last year. The company said it planted 20,000 plants and now will increase that production to 150,000 because of demand.
In fact, says Ryan Black, of Miami-based Jet Fresh Flowers, a “black market” for the flowers is emerging since only a handful of farms have the exclusive rights to this color tone and are trying to grow them illegally without breeder permission. Black, who is the fourth generation of his family in the flower business, says the company’s Ecuador farm grows varieties including Symbol and Quicksand which are selling as briskly as real estate in Florida.
“But to keep up with all the requests, we are now color-enhancing white flowers and also selling them as “Frappuchino,” he says.
Another reason for their popularity? “They are a tone that “blends” in with so many colors whether raspberry or white,” says award-winning wedding planner Holly Chapple, who also owns Hope Flower Farm in Loudoun County, Virginia. “We can’t get enough of them.”
With Valentine’s Day one of the most popular night for engagements, expect a new round of floral demands. In just 2022, there were 2.5 million weddings and, per The Knot, the average cost for flowers in 2021 was $2,300. Experts note toffee/taupe flowers, given their scarcity, run at least $1 to $2 more than average roses.
It’s also been good business for retail shops says Joost Bongaerts, CEO of California-based Florabundance, a nationwide wholesale floral distributor with over 1800 varieties and also the owner of Garden Roses Direct.
“Anyone can buy red roses these days from a supermarket but these are rare specialty flowers stocked by florists,” says Bongaerts. “It helps florists offer something unique and special.”
That’s helpful since supermarkets are cutting into flower shops’ revenue streams. Supermarkets buy in such bulk that they can offer lower prices than florists. Florists also have to pay for rent and heat while a supermarket can amortize the flower offerings in overall rent. Furthermore, as reported by CNN, flowers may account for only 1% to 3% of total sales, but in 2019 stores reported an average gross margin of 47% on cut flowers.
Yet for florists, they have options in this toffee/taupe color range including Golden Mustard, and Caramel.
Many are happy that these toffee flowers are rooting so positively.
“We live in a multiethnic, multicultural world — what better palette to represent this than the multicolored, blended taupe roses,” says Debra Prinzing, author and founder of the Slow Flowers Society, herself part of an interracial marriage. “The family of taupe and toffee roses has many unique varieties to grow in our own gardens or to clip for our vases and bouquets. It’s a rose to celebrate the beautiful diversity and deeper meaning of what we value in humankind.”
For these reasons, we along with Florists’ Review Magazine, which has been the industry bible of the flower industry since 1897, have joined forces to introduce this rose into the language of flowers.
The symbolic meaning of flowers has been a tradition since 1819 when Charlotte de La Tour published La Language des Fleurs. In recent history, the tie-dyed rose based on Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag for gay rights became a popular addition. But now floral experts say the toffee/taupe version deserves to be recognized.
In the language of flowers, red roses stand for passion and love, white for innocence and young love, pink for elegance, admiration and charm, orange tones represent enthusiasm and yellow is for friendship and courage.
Now we have anointed the toffee rose to symbolize “open-minded, open-hearted and blended.” This rose does speak to 2023 and is a fitting addition to our changing social landscape, which embraces all the colors of love.
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author, speaker and the founder and editorial director of FPD.