Complete Buyer’s Guide to Valentine’s Day Flowers

Living & Spending
on February 3, 2014
Valentine's Day Flowers

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the height of demand for floral bouquet delivery is upon us. If you’re new to the wide world of flora for hire—or if you’re sick of overpaying for a lackluster final product—this buyer’s guide is for you. Pick up tips here for getting the best bang for your buck at the florist, including where and when to order, what to ask for and how to choose the best arrangement for the occasion.

Order local. Always.

As tempting as it is to use a cursory Google search, the first results are often large-scale flower brokers like 1-800 Flowers. A flower broker is merely a call center, and it has no brick-and-mortar shop associated with it. Upwards of 30 percent of what you pay goes to the broker and cuts down on the amount of flowers to actually land in your arrangement.

Is your sweetheart in another city? No problem. Give your local florist a call, and he or she can direct you to a trusted florist in the city of delivery. Shopping local means cutting out the middleman and getting more bang for your buck.

Order at least one week in advance.

“Ordering a week ahead ensures you get exactly what you want,” says florist Shelley Horton, owner of Spring Hill Florist and Gifts in Spring Hill, Tenn. Furthermore, many florists will offer specials or discounts for early Valentine orders like free delivery. Free delivery means you will save at least $10 right off the bat.

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, Horton even recommends ordering for a February 13th delivery. “With Valentine’s on a Friday, many couples go straight to dinner, and it cuts down on the enjoyment of the arrangement. Get flowers delivered on Thursday as pre-Valentine’s Day surprise.”

If ordering early isn’t an option, florists do provide cash-and-carry services. This means dropping by the florist, selecting flowers and leaving with a wrapped bouquet. This is one of the cheapest options, because you are only faced with the cost of the flowers and applicable taxes.

Filler Flowers: A Fresh Way to Save

Floral bouquets typically feature a show-stopper like deeply hued roses or tulips, surrounded by other, smaller flowers in supporting roles. Carnations and baby’s breath used to be popular filler flowers, but most florists now tend steer clear of them.

Stylish, less expensive counterparts include genestra, lily grass, wax flower, acacia, bupleurum and freesia. These choices add volume, pops of complimentary color and rustic appeal to arrangements for a custom look.

The Main Attraction

Since floral arrangements are built around one or two primary flowers, it’s important to choose those wisely. Roses are the traditional choice, but the price of roses typically doubles in February as growers meet the high demand.

If your significant other has a favorite flower or favorite color, this is an excellent starting point in assembling a cost-effective but distinctive arrangement. Lilies, hydrangeas, and agapanthas are elegant rose alternatives. Request a minimal display of your desired primary flower, surrounded by less expensive options, like the filler flowers listed above.

Some arrangements are designed to last 365 days a year, making the overall cost of an arrangement amount to pennies a day. European gardens are delicate collections of green plants that will thrive all year. Consider hybridizing a special arrangement and permanent greenery by asking your florist to place blooms in a European garden. Succulents are especially resilient.

Consider the Vessel

The vessel for your arrangement can be a sneaky cost driver. Most vases have a pretty generic look, unless you opt for a more expensive specialty vessel, so always discuss how the arrangement will be contained before finalizing your order. For example, a small cube vase makes for a trusty, inexpensive-yet-tasteful vessel to be used for tight-knit arrangements.

For an excellent cost-saver, consider providing your own vessel. “Most men don’t realize they can bring in their own container and we’ll fill it and deliver it,” says Horton. She also recommends choosing an existing container that is meaningful like a pretty urn, champagne bucket or crystal cut vase.

And finally, always consider the option of requesting a wrapped bouquet as opposed to a glass vessel. Wrapping a bouquet in inexpensive brown craft paper or even newspaper can lend a charming touch of simplicity—if the occasion is right.

Caring For Your Arrangement

Remember, fresh flowers have traveled far and wide before they reach the florist and make it to your doorstep. Follow these tips to extend the life of your arrangement and the happiness of your Valentine.

  • Keep arrangements out of direct sunlight.
  • Place arrangements away from drafts, i.e. air vents or near doors.
  • Change the water every day or two.
  • Give the stems a tiny trim to ensure flowers can drink water.

Shelley Horton owns and operates Spring Hill Florist in Spring Hill, Tenn., where she provides custom arrangements and expertise for all occasions. View her Valentine’s Day picks here.


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