Beijing, Feb 12 : As Valentine's Day spreads love in the air for all those young at heart across the world, the special occasion creates a big hustle and bustle in a popular flower market of a Chinese province as it trades in 12 million flowers a day!

Dounan Flower Market, located in Yunnan province's capital, is a place where over 80 percent of the roses sold across China this season are traded.

Over 10,000 traders exchange up to 12 million flowers every day at Dounan, China's largest marketplace for cut flowers, China Daily reported Saturday.

Due to its high trade volume, Dounan Flower Market is often recognised as the barometer of China's flower markets, forecasting prices nationwide three to four days in advance.

At the moment, over a third are roses, says Lu Jiliang of the Yunnan Flower Association.

Compared to last year, the average wholesale price of a single rose at Dounan Flower Market has gone up 50 percent, reaching 1.5 to 2 yuan (20 to 30 US cents). "This is the highest since 2005," said Lu.

Although rising production costs partly contribute to the price hike, Lu explained that there has also been more demand for flowers in many second- and third-tier Chinese cities, like Nanjing, Suzhou and Hangzhou.

Such demand significantly outgrew the eight-percent increase in the volume of flowers in Yunnan from 2009 to 2010.

"Supply is falling short of demand," he added.

Although demand for roses peaked on Feb 8, trader Yang Zhi said Dounan Flower Market extended its trading hours 10 days ahead of Valentine's Day.

Sales in Beijing, however, are yet to reach its peak.

Liu Xu, who owns a florist shop in the capital, received three Valentine's orders till Feb 9, although he is hopeful of getting at least 100 orders Feb 13 and 14.

"I think I can charge at least 15 yuan per rose Feb 14. The better ones can cost up to 20 yuan each," said Liu and suggested it is best if you order roses in advance to ensure the best quality and prices.

"It's extremely normal for roses to rise three to five times in price on Valentine's Day," said a Beijing flower seller called Xiang, who usually charges five yuan per rose.

Both -- Liu and Xiang -- purchase their roses from Yunnan province.

Price differences between Dounan and Beijing come down to the fact that flowers are normally transported and traded between two or three wholesalers before finally reaching consumers, said Lu of the Yunnan Flower Association.

According to the data released Wednesday by Taobao, China's largest online retail website, its users have traded about 2.1 million flowers every day since the start of February, roughly 110 percent more than the same period last year.

Cai Liping, a trader in Dounan market, hopes to sell 500 to 600 bundles (with each bundle comprising 20 roses) on Valentine's Day, twice her usual volume. She boasts of having wholesalers in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Hubei and Hunan provinces.

"It's hard to say how much I'd charge for a bundle on Valentine's Day," said Cai. "You know, prices fluctuate."

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