Preserved roses help boost Ecuador’s Valentine’s Day sales

A two-day process involves cutting a flower at full bloom, dipping it into a solution to extract the natural colors and then infusing it with a pigment of the customer’s choice. The result is a multicolored bouquet whose petals keep their natural softness and require no sunlight or water to last a year or more.

TABACUNDO, Ecuador — In a warehouse north of Ecuador’s capital, a small, busy army of dexterous workers puts the final touches on a shipment of made-to-order roses with tones as diverse as the colors of a rainbow suffused in fragrance capable of seducing even the most demanding nose.

Each petal is custom made for foreign clients whose orders multiply every year in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. For example, a client in Qatar recently ordered a shipment in the maroon and white colors of that nation’s flag.

“It’s a small detail that makes a beautiful gift,” says Patricia Cordova, admiring her delicate work on a lilac-colored flower bound for Germany.

Cordova works at Sisapamba, one of a dozen companies in this South American nation that have woken up to the potential of preserved flowers. The two-day process involves cutting a flower at full bloom, dipping it into a plant-based solution to extract the natural colors and then infusing it with a pigment of the customer’s choice. Additional colors and designs are applied using an airbrush.

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The result is a multicolored bouquet as vibrant as a painter’s palette but whose petals keep their natural softness and require no sunlight or water to last a year or more.

The technology has been around for decades and is especially popular in Japan. But in Ecuador, the world’s second-largest exporter of roses, it took root only recently, as a result of an economic crisis that forced flower growers to diversify their offerings and focus on higher-end products.

A glut of fresh-cut flowers driven by new…

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