Before you give your sweetheart a dozen roses this Valentine's Day, have you ever thought about how many hands it took to make that gift a reality and how far some of those flowers had to travel just to be in the Truckee Meadows?

Many of the flowers bought in northern Nevada, grow in Ecuador nearly 4,000 miles away. Greenleaf is a wholesale florist with 11 warehouses across the country. Mike Regas, a salesman with the company, says their Reno-Sparks location sells flowers from Ecuador to retail shops in a market-type setting and also through delivery to stores in Nevada and the Sierra.

"We're just getting started; we've got routes going out putting up orders for Bishop right now and Hawthorne,” said Regas. “We'll drive out to Elko and Winnemucca and deliver that way."

During the first half of February, they sell a much larger volume of product than they normally would. Greenleaf received a shipment from Ecuador the week before Valentine’s Day. The large load provided the company with more than 40,000 stems of roses and thousands of other flowers to sell to their buyers. This particular shipment was about four times larger than their usual weekly loads.

“Oh this is one of the busiest holidays of the year,” said Regas.

To make sure their flowers are fresh and ready for their buyers, they unpack each and every bunch, chop off a portion of the stems and keep the flowers hydrated in cool conditions.

“We have cooler space to store the flowers where a lot of the flower stores don't have that, so they can actually come shop this every day,” said Regas.

And many stores do. Wendy Nelsen is the co-owner of the only flower shop in Lovelock. While she will order ahead by phone for Valentine’s Day, she also likes to look at additional product in person.

“Hand pick out the very best that we can find,” said Nelson.

Another store striving for perfection is Serendipity, a local floral shop in Reno. Kyra Kelley is a floral designer who says a lot of the product sold from Serendipity on Valentine's Day is bought from Greenleaf.

“Our owner does a great job of taking a look at last year and forecasting what's new for this year,” said Kelley. “She reserves the flowers with us so they can work with the growers from all over the world.”

Once the small shop has picked up their order, processing thousands of flowers has a different look and feel than it does at the wholesale level.

“Once we've prepared the water with the flower food, and the temperature, we remove the foliage because it will create bacteria in the water,” said Kelley. “We re-cut above that dehydrated area, so that we give the flower a way to uptake the water to the head and then we put it in the prepared flower food within 10 to 30 seconds.”

When the processing is complete, then it’s time to build what the consumers want. While roses are the real winner for Valentine’s Day, decorated arrangements are a hit as well. Kyra says speed and precision are both necessary when orders are flying in and they’re racing against the Valentine’s Day clock.

“Many hands go into this, and they all care and make sure it's perfect, clean vases, clean water, beautiful flowers, so from start to end, it's an artistic gift, said Kelley.

The folks over at Serendipity realize that some people have to buy their flowers last minute. For that reason, the shop will be accepting walk-ins on Valentine’s Day.