Picking Valentine's Day Flowers

A dozen long-stem roses these days will run you around $70. It has always boggled my mind how much we spend on something that dies within a few days. But still millions of people get flowers for Valentine's Day. I have to admit, a bouquet of gorgeous flowers has been known to put a smile on my face. So here are a few tips on buying flowers for the big day:

Tip #1: Go to your local florist with your budget and ask what they can do. Most florist shops have a selection of flower arrangements they've put together for Valentine's Day, so it's worth it to see what you can get on the low side. Or ask them what they can put together for $50 or whatever your budget happens to be. Florists are competing aggressively for business these days so some will meet your budget constraints if it means they'll get your business.

Tip #2: Some florists will knock off some dollars if you pick up the arrangement on Valentine's Day and deliver it yourself.

Tip #3: Don't discount grocery stores and convenience stores for flowers. Many come in small bunches but if you buy two or three and stick them in a nice-looking vase, they may look almost as good as one you would buy at a professional florist. I've always been impressed with the selection at Trader Joe's. "You can get a good product almost anywhere if you know what you're doing," says Tom Sutton, owner of Foxglove Flowers in Alexandria.

Tip #4: Go off the beaten path and give a non-rose for Valentine's Day. Some of the most budget-friendly flowers out there are carnations and tulips, both of which are about half the price of roses. Lilies, amaryllises and spider mums are some of the longest-lasting flowers, Sutton adds.

Tip #5: If roses are the way to go and you're selecting the bouquet yourself, then pick ones that are about 30 percent open. You don't want a rose that's too open or one that is tightly shut. "A lot of people who have no experience with roses will look for the tightest rose. That's not usually a good indication that it will perform well," Sutton says. "You don't want it blown open either but if it's one quarter open, that usually indicates it will perform well."

Tip #6: Go really off the beaten path and consider giving your honey a unique plant that will last longer than flowers. EasternLeaf.com sells bonsai trees, money trees, orchids and bamboo in decorative ceramic pots ranging from $29 to $89. I had a good experience with a bonsai tree that someone sent me from this site. (The bonsai tree, however, did not have a good experience with me as its owner.)

Tip #7: Shop around. Online prices for a dozen long-stemmed roses range between $50 (ProFlowers) to $80 (1800flowers.com). FTD.com's dozen red roses for $50 come with a box of four Godiva chocolates.

Tip #8: If you're really pinching pennies, consider having the flowers delivered the day before Valentine's Day. Some florists charge an extra fee to deliver on Feb. 14, but a delivery the day before could be slightly less expensive.

Tip #9: When all else fails, buy flowers from one of those guys who sells them from car to car at a stop light. He might even haggle with you. Hey, it's better than nothing.

So where are you getting your Valentine's Day flowers? Have you seen any good deals out there? Do you have any tips for buying budget-friendly Valentine's Day gifts?

By Tania Anderson |  February 12, 2009; 12:00 AM ET Holidays and Special Occasions , Tuesday Tips
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Unless you know that your significant other is dead set on red roses, I would highly recommend giving a different flower. I personally think that red roses are cliche and would prefer almost anything else. Try other colors or multicolored roses, tulips, lilies, peonies, ranunculus, hydrangeas, etc. All of these are beautiful and you might even save some money.

Posted by: SweetieJ | February 12, 2009 9:06 AM

DO NOT GIVE CARNATIONS. Oh my God, I can't believe she recommended that. Tulips are great. Anything but carnations! Unless you are TRYING to get dumped...

Posted by: Marimom | February 12, 2009 2:20 PM

Costco for flowers.

The online surcharges are ridiculous. Avoid buying online at any cost. If you are sending to someone in another city, call an independent florist in their town. Tell them about how much you want to spend, and a style or color choice and let them put it together. You'll get more for your money than a FTD style bouquet.

Posted by: Marimom | February 12, 2009 2:22 PM

I don't mind carnations, really, but I do mind horrible arrangements. I'd really rather just get some long stemmed flowers and arrange them myself.

Posted by: gm123 | February 12, 2009 4:44 PM

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