By Liza Corsillo
Illustrations by Jordan Kay
If you’ve ever walked by a man on the street carrying flowers, you know that a bouquet of blooming roses, carnations, daisies, or whatever, can transform any old jerk into a hero. Old women smile at him, puppies wag their tails, waiters pat him on the back, firefighters wink, single people get nostalgic, and basically everyone within his orbit roots this dude on.
It feels just as good to give flowers as it does to receive them. I also know from experience that buying them for your beloved on a random Wednesday is the biggest baller move of all. But since Valentine’s day is nearly upon us, the least you can do is be a flower hero on Wednesday the 14th of February. So if you plan on ordering some, or even just swinging by the bodega on your way home, we want to make sure you’re the most informed floral purchaser there is. Here, with help from Floral designer extraordinaire and shop owner Mairead Travins, is our 2018 guide to nailing this year’s Valentine’s bouquet.
First things first: when giving flowers, the last thing you want to do is look cheap or cheesy (avoid dyed flowers at all costs, gentlemen). So, expect to spend a little money. “Anywhere from $50-$100 for a wrapped bouquet, more for a vase arrangement” is what Travins recommends. She also suggests personalizing your gift “If you buy bodega flowers, take them out of the plastic sleeve and wrap them in nice tissue or kraft paper. Find some nice twine or ribbon and attach a tag or card and write something heartfelt.”
Now, to the business of being sure you know what you’re saying when you’re giving somebody a dozen of something pretty that sprung up from the ground.
Roses have more than earned their centuries-long spot on the throne of romantic gestures. But just remember, you don’t win creativity points buying the same flower as every other man in the world. And when the flowers you are giving evoke every episode of the Bachelor, you might want to give your bouquet a second thought. The good news is there are tons of alternatives to the classic red rose. You can change it up in the color department, choosing white, coral, or peachy pink over deep red. Avoid yellow, though, it typically symbolizes friendship — not the vibe for V-Day. Or go for cabbage roses that offer a fuller and less clichéd silhouette. (And hold the baby’s breath, it’s a little played out.)
See yourself as a bit of a romantic maverick? Want somebody to know you’re enchanted by them in every way? Looking for something like a rose but 25% splashier? Well then, ranunculus is your jam. The darling of aspirational Instagram accounts worldwide these trendsetter stems are a guaranteed win. Travins says, “Ranunculus comes in a big range of varieties and colors, lasts well and is far more beautiful than most traditional roses!”
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck or simply in a last-minute V-day induced panic, go for tulips. They’re readily available at any supermarket or bodega, won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and they last a long time so she won’t soon forget your “grand” gesture. Go with feminine colors like purple, pink, white, or reddish orange to increase the love vibes.
If you’re not yet monogamous, but you’re looking to convince someone that you’d make an unbelievable, super-chill boyfriend, then try some of these.They smell great, last a long time, and symbolically shout out new beginnings without being overly romantic. Probably best not to scream “You’re my soulmate!” in those early days anyway.
What’s the booty call equivalent of a flower you ask? But one that still reads classy and sophisticated? When I asked Travins to name the sexiest flower she didn’t hesitate. “Peonies, women go wild for them — they don't have a very long vase life but are big, blousy and bountiful.”
These flowers with their “iconic black centers” will show you’ve been paying attention to somebody’s taste in dark beauty. Legend has it that these are said to bring good fortune, too. So think of it as an added shot of luck to your romantic endeavors. Not to mention the extra points you’ll get for originality. These look best in a group of mixed colors, but by all means pump up the drama by sticking to bright red or deep purple.
Freesia may be traditional but it’s anything but boring. The long stems of multiple blooms offer a visual mix of fully open and just budding flowers, meaning they’ll stick around for a while. Plus these flirty buds smell great, adding a sensual quality to your gift. Just be wary of delivering them in a mason jar or you’ll give her an overdose of twee.