Get the Best Valentine's Day Flowers:
Pro Tips From a Flower Shop Girl

In December I shared my hard-earned lessons for surviving holiday shopping, and now I'd like to help you get the most bang for your Valentine's Day flowers buck…This is my fourth Valentine's Day working with flowers, so I hope I can help, even just a little! Here are a few tips:

Skip The Same Old Standbys. Unless your Valentine is crazy for red roses and only red roses, avoid them like the plague. The same goes for pink roses, and pink and red tulips, though to a lesser degree. You see, various players in the floral industry save up their Valentine's Day heavy hitters for days and weeks before the holiday, meaning that by the time you buy the red roses, they maybe have a few precious hours to live. Much better to buy something a little less traditional that was harvested in the last day or two.

Don't Fret If You Don't Know Their Favorite Flower. I've seen so many people have a near-panic attack when they realize they dont' know their beloved's favorite flower. It can be a helpful bit of trivia, but many people have several favorites, or no favorite. It's much, much more helpful to think about, and tell me about, your beloved's style. Is her home stark and modern? Does he dress in many colors at once? Does she like to run through forests barefoot, or would a manicured garden be more her scene? Adjectives like wild, modern, exotic, sweet, feminine, rugged, sunny, lush, or mysterious, whether they apply to your beloved's clothing, home, or personality, can help me put together the perfect arrangement.

Take Cues From Food. Scent is a major issue in the floral world. Some people want to inhale the scent of peonies with every breath, and some, like me, get an instant headache from perfumed flowers (and don't like the scent to boot). Think about what your Valentine likes to eat and drink. Guessing my aversion to flowery-smelling flowers would be easy, because I cannot stand floral flavors: rosewater, rose geranium, orange flower water, violet, chamomile, none of it. Does your darling prefer more savory scents? Many florists these days are carrying fresh rosemary, bay, mint, and oregano, so you can put together a bouquet good enough to eat.

Order Early. Smaller shops sometimes have to stop taking orders for February 14th several days ahead of time, so be sure to place your order in a timely fashion. A week before is a good rule of thumb (That's today!).

Have Your Love Letter Ready. Chances are you'll be asked what you'd like to have written on the card. Don't be shy — we don't judge — but do be prepared. It can be extremely difficult to come up with something romantic/meaningful/sexy/sweet on the spur of the moment, with someone waiting, so have your inscription written down ahead of time. This will also give you a chance to figure out the punctuation you prefer — exclamation points can make all the difference!

Be Explicit When You Order. If you need an arrangement delivered by 3pm, please be sure to tell your friendly neighborhood florist! Deliveries are generally arranged geographically (all the orders for the day gathered and then delivered via the most efficient route possible) so yours might not arrive until 6, after you've already left for the weekend.

Be Patient (Within Reason). If you didn't specify a time and your Valentine hasn't received a delivery yet, try not to worry. Valentine's Day, the days before, and even the day after, are a crazy time in the life of florists, a period of 12+-hour days without breaks. Feel free to call and check on your order, as we would hate if there was a mix-up or missing bouquet. But if it simply hasn't arrived yet, know that we're getting it to your beloved as quickly as we possibly can.

Remember It's Only One Day, It's Only One Bouquet. Whether you're sending or receiving flowers, it can be tempting to put the pressure of the entire relationship on their delicate stems. Are the flowers she sent you a bit lackluster? That might say more about the depleted flower market and the exhausted florist than it says about her feelings for you. Did he not send your favorites? Maybe there are no pink tulips within a hundred miles. We do our best to make each bouquet perfect, but there are misses and miscommunications. Whether the flowers are wonderful or underwhelming, they're just flowers, and it's just Valentine's Day, and there's so much more to your love than that.

(Image: Tess Wilson)

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