An insider dishes on florists

Why I Won't Buy Roses on Valentine's Day

by Shaunna Privratsky

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Roses are gorgeous. The many varieties sport delicate shades and inviting scents. They have come to symbolize love and friendship. The gift of a dozen unfurling flowers is a declaration of devotion. Yet I don't want any this Valentine's Day.

I worked as a florist for two years after securing my interior design degree. I learned the ins and outs, the insider's tips, and the thorny issues on all things floral. The biggest scam is roses on Valentine's Day.

I say scam because the prices are literally tripled on the weeks before and during Valentine's Day. If you call in an out-of-town order, you will pay quadruple the standard rate.

Valentine's Day is the second biggest event in a floral shop, with Mother's Day being number one. (Everyone has a mother.) Of Valentine's Day orders, roses are the number one choice. Besides price, quality suffers.

Anticipating the swell in demand, florists place large orders as much as two months in advance. The roses arrive in packed crates, early in the month of January. By the time your loved one receives your over-priced token of affection, they are at least two to three weeks old. The stems are probably much shorter than the standard length, so more can be packed in the boxes.

Roses that are stored for long periods, even in a cooler, tend to droop, mildew, or wither. Florists use thin wires to prop up the heads long enough to sell them. An easy way to check for freshness is to gently squeeze the base of the rose, just on top of the green stem. If it is very soft or petals fall off at your touch, it is "blown" or past its prime. If you cannot order roses in person, ask for "tight" roses.

"Professionally arranged in a vase" sounds so charming, but it ups the cost yet again. If you have a vase or a pretty container (think creatively), order it wrapped with no vase. Make sure they include greens. Filler like baby's breath (small white flowers) is usually extra.

Better yet, choose another variety of flower or go for simplicity and order one perfect rose. Even at inflated prices, most budgets can support this. Popular single stem varieties include roses, gerbera daisies, carnations, gladiolas, orchids, and lilies. Prices will vary in each shop.

Color can play a key role in choosing the right flowers to express your feelings. The traditional meanings are:

Red: love, passion, respect, courage
Yellow: joy, friendship, freedom
Pink: happiness, gratitude, appreciation
Cream: thoughtfulness, charm, graciousness
Orange: admiration, fascination, enthusiasm, desire
White: innocence, purity, secrecy, reverence

When sending flowers to a loved one, it helps to know what they prefer. Do they like the showiness of lots of flowers, or the understated elegance of orchids? Do they care more for the money you spend, or that you remembered them? If you are on a tight budget, sending a dozen overly priced roses is not only trite, but it is also wasteful. The flowers will be dead and gone in less than a week.

Related: Valentine's Day Gifts for Less

If you love the idea of sending a dozen roses, put the urge on ice. Wait until June 20th, September 29th, July 2nd or December 19th. There is no national holiday or special significance to the dates, so you will get double the props for doing it. Also, you'll save money, so your pocketful of posies doesn't turn to ashes.

This Valentine's Day, honor your loved one with a carefully chosen flower and write a heartfelt message on the card. Whether you spend a little or a lot, how much thought you put into the gift is really what counts. So, honey, if you're reading this, no roses for me, please!

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • Make sure you don't penny pinch the romance out of your marriage.
  • Celebrate Valentine's Day the frugal way with these gift and date ideas both your Valentine and your budget will love.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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