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PHOTOS: Where Your Roses (Maybe) Came From
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PHOTOS: Where Your Roses (Maybe) Came From

Economy

PHOTOS: Where Your Roses (Maybe) Came From

On Feb. 1, Phanice Cherop works at the AAA Growers' farm in Nyahururu, four hours' drive north of the capital Nairobi, in Kenya. Last year Kenya exported more than 6.8 million cut flowers to the United States. i

On Feb. 1, Phanice Cherop works at the AAA Growers' farm in Nyahururu, four hours' drive north of the capital Nairobi, in Kenya. Last year Kenya exported more than 6.8 million cut flowers to the United States. Ilya Gridneff/AP hide caption

toggle caption Ilya Gridneff/AP
On Feb. 1, Phanice Cherop works at the AAA Growers' farm in Nyahururu, four hours' drive north of the capital Nairobi, in Kenya. Last year Kenya exported more than 6.8 million cut flowers to the United States.

On Feb. 1, Phanice Cherop works at the AAA Growers' farm in Nyahururu, four hours' drive north of the capital Nairobi, in Kenya. Last year Kenya exported more than 6.8 million cut flowers to the United States.

Ilya Gridneff/AP

If you'll forgive us a Valentine's poem ...

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
How far did yours travel
To make it to you?

Unless you made a point of finding American flowers, odds are any bouquets you bought or received today traveled far indeed.

Kenya's cool climate and high altitude make it perfect for growing large, long-lasting roses — helping it become the world's fourth-largest supplier after the Netherlands, Ecuador and Colombia. Here, workers on Feb. 1 prepare for the Valentine's Day demand for roses.

Kenya's cool climate and high altitude make it perfect for growing large, long-lasting roses — helping it become the world's fourth-largest supplier after the Netherlands, Ecuador and Colombia. Here, workers on Feb. 1 prepare for the Valentine's Day demand for roses. Ilya Gridneff/AP hide caption

toggle caption Ilya Gridneff/AP

These photos, from this year's Valentine's Day rush as well as previous years's growing seasons, show a few of the greenhouses that enable the world's romantic gestures.

Most of America's Valentine's Day roses come from Colombia. Here, a worker carries bunches of roses for export at a farm in Nemocon, Colombia, on February 2, 2015. The Valentine's season represents 12% of the annual sales for Colombian flower growers.

Most of America's Valentine's Day roses come from Colombia. Here, a worker carries bunches of roses for export at a farm in Nemocon, Colombia, on February 2, 2015. The Valentine's season represents 12% of the annual sales for Colombian flower growers. Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

Last year NPR's Planet Money took a close look at the "logistical miracles and wild risks" that bring millions of blooming roses to America on one exact day.

PHOTOS: Where Your Roses (Maybe) Came From
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They note that indestructibility is fundamental to the rose's appeal — they're uniquely suited for being transported thousands of miles.

"We didn't just set up this global transportation chain in order to get this traditional flower, roses," correspondent Robert Smith said. "We actually started to like roses because they were optimized for the global transportation chain. They were the flower that worked best with the planes and the boxes and the farms."

A worker selects roses at a farm in Nemocon, Colombia on February 2, 2015.

A worker selects roses at a farm in Nemocon, Colombia on February 2, 2015. Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

And indeed, most of the roses we buy in the U.S. on Valentine's day are imported — this year, an estimated half a billion are arriving from Colombia alone, The Washington Post reports.

Workers prepare roses at a farm in Nemocon, Colombia, on February 2, 2015.

Workers prepare roses at a farm in Nemocon, Colombia, on February 2, 2015. Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia is the single largest supplier of cut flowers to the U.S., followed by Ecuador.

Ecuador is the second-largest exporter of cut flowers to the U.S. Here Consuelo Cabezas, then 33, sorts roses at an industrial farm in Cayambe, Ecuador, in June 2013. i

Ecuador is the second-largest exporter of cut flowers to the U.S. Here Consuelo Cabezas, then 33, sorts roses at an industrial farm in Cayambe, Ecuador, in June 2013. Meridith Kohut/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Meridith Kohut/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ecuador is the second-largest exporter of cut flowers to the U.S. Here Consuelo Cabezas, then 33, sorts roses at an industrial farm in Cayambe, Ecuador, in June 2013.

Ecuador is the second-largest exporter of cut flowers to the U.S. Here Consuelo Cabezas, then 33, sorts roses at an industrial farm in Cayambe, Ecuador, in June 2013.

Meridith Kohut/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mexico, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Thailand, Kenya and Guatemala are also significant suppliers, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The Netherlands exports more flowers than any other country in the world. Here, employees drive electric carts as they transport cages of flowers at FloraHolland, the largest flower trade center in the world, in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, on March 11, 2014.

The Netherlands exports more flowers than any other country in the world. Here, employees drive electric carts as they transport cages of flowers at FloraHolland, the largest flower trade center in the world, in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, on March 11, 2014. Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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