Flower Power - A Guide to Frugal Valentine's Flowers

By Andrea Karim on 26 January 2007 (Updated 8 February 2010) 3 comments

Everyone knows that Valentine's Day can be pricey. Flowers, dinner, gifts (if you're that type) easily put a dent in anyone's wallet.

Well, preparation is the best prevention... or something like that. Want to save a little this Valentine's Day? Get ready now.

Buy a vase before you buy your flowers. Sometimes, florists will offer really nice vases for cheap. A simple clean vase is great; if you know where you are going to order your flowers, call ahead and ask how much they charge for a vase.

Avoid vases with the frilly, lacy-looking tops or too much in the way of decorative cuts - they're tacky and out of date. If possible, buy a cheap vase at Wal-Mart or Target ahead of time.

Use the little packet of flower-preserving powder. They really do work.

Steer clear of roses. Red roses are tired and expensive. Be creative. And if you are going to buy carnations, make sure to pair them with something unusual, like belles of Ireland. Don't be hell bent on putting together the world's most picture-perfect bouquet. The sweetest bouquet I ever received was a Snapple bottle filled with black-eyed susans from a boyfriend's yard.

Nix the baby's breath, ferns, and additional greens. That's all I have to say about that.

Buying in season is best, but tough. Depending on what kind of weather your area is experiencing, buying flowers in season may be tough. Where I live, you can usually get hyacinths right about this time of year, and they are beautiful and fragrant.

Some floral recommendations:

Lilies come in a wide variety of colors, but the most common are the star-gazers, which are pink and white, with magenta dots (the yellow ones don't seem to be fragrant at all - avoid them unless you just love them to death). These can be pricey, too, but they smell glorious, and you don't need more than two stems, usually. Hint: try to remove the pollen pods with a pair of scissors. When these drop, they are extremely messy and can leave stains on fabric.

Wildlflowers are often cheaper than other options, and are charming.

Cut orchids in a simple asymmetrical vase are striking. There are such a wide variety of orchids that I don't know which one to recommend, but there are some small yellow orchids that are often sold at Trader Joe's and other places for something like $4 a stem. They often last for over a month. I can't keep a potted orchid alive for the life of me, so this is a nice way to get a temporary orchid fix.

Daisies are fresh and cute, and feel like summer.

Tulips are fresh and spring-like, and usually affordable. Choose an unusual shade, like orange, or striped, and put them in a vase with a wide, matching colored ribbon taped around it. Chic.

Dating a foodie? Consider a vase full of fresh herbs.

Another thing that shows up at farmer's markets fairly early are flowering branches. Cherry blossoms are a beautiful thing to behold.

If your beloved has a green thumb, consider buying a living plant. I personally think that a cactus is more romantic than a single red rose. I'm also a sucker for terrariums, which last, and are beautiful to behold.

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Andrea Karim's picture

While on flickr.com, looking for a good flower pic for this posting:

"I hate flowers. I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move."

- Georgia O'Keeffe

Lynn Truong's picture

from that cheesy "bed of roses" movie w/christian slater (ok i liked the movie and i liked him).  it works!  something to do w/the sugar and lemon - so maybe lemonade works just as well.  they do last longer!

Andrea Karim's picture

But I find that the little packets are the BEST. If they don't come with the flowers you buy, you can sometimes charm the florist at Safeway into giving you a spare pack if you smile broadly enough.