One Dozen Red Roses

February 14, 2012 by staff 

One Dozen Red Roses, Valentine’s Day can be a very confusing time for flower shoppers.

With several years of experience as a florist, I’m familiar with the look of a overwhelmed customer lost in an unfamiliar world of flowers.

They wander in and slowly look around, taking note as to what the female shoppers are buying for themselves. Many are even smart enough to admit they have no idea what they’re looking for and simply ask for something good in their price range.

But worry not – there are a few conventions in the world of flowers, but chances are your date will love whatever you choose. However, here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping:

Buying flowers for a friend or significant other doesn’t have to be intimidating, although it does involve a little planning about price and the meaning of petal color. HOLLY YOUNG/Staff


Yep, flower prices go up around holidays. There’s nothing you can do about it and bargaining isn’t an option, so your best bet is to know your budget and know which florist can best accommodate it.

Higher-end floral shops are pricier than grocery store floral departments, but they also produce higher quality work.

If you’re willing to spend $100, a trained florist can beautifully arrange a vase with two dozen long-stem roses, but if you have only $20 to spend, a grocery store is your best bet.

So what’s the difference? The length of a rose’s stem is directly proportional to its cost, so grocery store flowers are likely to be smaller and shorter, which makes for a less dramatic appearance. The floral clerks are generally less experienced too, but that’s not to say they can’t do a good job – just remember that an arrangement is only as good as the flowers that go into it.

Floral shops are also more likely to offer delivery services and arrangement accessories, such as vase pebbles or decorative skewers.

The upside of grocery store floral departments, however, is that you can walk in with $5 and leave with something small but presentable.

Flower meanings

By convention, different flowers mean different things. A rose is more traditional and formal (and more expensive) than a carnation, but less fun than, say, a Gerber daisy.

Roses can also sometimes be seen as more cheesy than other flowers – but Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year where cheesiness is seemingly encouraged, so they are perfectly acceptable and enjoyable.

If your message is more of friendship than love, a colorful mixed bunch is more appropriate than a dozen red roses, but staying in line with your recipient’s personal preferences is just as important.

Stargazer Lilies are also a great choice and suitable for any occasion. They’re beautiful: elegant, fragrant and are loved by many. Make sure the orange pollen is carefully removed from the flowers though, because they can easily stain the petals and clothing.

If you’re unsure of what flowers to get and are not quite willing to commit to an all-rose bouquet, a colorful mixed bunch of lilies, small garden roses, Gerbers, irises and other flowers with assorted greenery and filler makes for a wonderful arrangement that can easily be tailored to match color and budget preferences.

Color meanings

Yeah, yeah: roses are red and violets are blue. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Red roses and yellow roses convey very different messages, so your intention is often considered when choosing the right color.

This is less true for flowers other than roses, whose colors are chosen more for preference – but that’s not to say personal taste doesn’t matter. If your date’s favorite color is purple but you want to convey love – which is traditionally expressed through red roses – the right answer may not be obvious.

A successful flower arrangement could be a combination of the two colors with matching filler and dark green foliage – it just depends on which spot between traditional and ambitious is most appropriate.

Red, yellow and white roses are the most traditional arrangements, signifying love, friendship and reverence, respectively. More ambitious arrangements could consist of multiple colors of roses or a mix of different flowers and colors.

A combination of white and red or red and yellow roses is also common when the giver has several emotions to convey.


You have a few options when it comes to presenting your arrangement.

Vases are most traditional, but there are many shapes and sizes to choose from. Standard, clear vases are most commonly used and go for only a few dollars, but decorative designer vases are also an option to dress up the arrangement.

If you have a decorative vase in mind, it’s a good idea to contact the florist ahead of time and see whether they have many styles to choose from. It’s also perfectly acceptable to bring in your own vase, which lets you buy the perfect one from any store (think thrifty) and save a few bucks in the process.

Bows are often left off when using a decorative vase, whereas most standard vases look best with a large bow.

Marbles, plastic jewels and water beads can also be used in vases for a fancy look that serves to hold stems in place and lengthen the flowers. Craft stores have many vase fillers to choose from, and they are also just as acceptable to bring in with you.

A second presentation option is wrapping, which most stores will do for free. Wrapping involves staggering the flowers in a plastic- and paper-wrapped bouquet, tied together with a ribbon.

This may be a good option if your Valentine already has too many vases at home or if you have a long drive after purchasing them. It’s also more suitable for presenting flowers away from one’s work or home, though it’s not as formal as an arrangement in a vase.

If no water tubes are used – which usually isn’t critical, as most flowers can last surprisingly long out of water – it’s important to remember to trim the stems just before placing them in water, to allow for adequate hydration.

A third option is to present your flowers in a non-traditional container. I’ve seen everything from a boot to a five-sided cube used as a vase, and the results are often quite visually appealing.

Lotus seed pods arranged with flowers in a mason jar will have lots of rustic southern charm, whereas roses arranged in an over-sized champagne glass make an interesting romantic alternative.

Any container that can be lined with plastic paper will do, and the possibilities for making a thoughtful, personalized arrangement are endless.

Finally, a gift basket is worth considering in some cases. Though they are more often used for birthdays or get-well-soon baskets, they can make a welcomed alternative depending on the recipient.

Baskets allow you to combine several plants without removing them from their pots. You’ll simply choose a few small potted plants to be arranged inside a basket then covered with a layer of shred or moss to hide the containers.

Water-soaked foam blocks can also be used to hold cut flowers, which allows for more creativity with stem lengths and the arrangement’s overall shape.

Baskets are also nice because they can incorporate edibles and other gifts, but keep in mind that they’re better suited for relatives than lovers.

Finally, flowers are usually accompanied by a card and/or a balloon, which are often tied to either the vase or chocolates. Don’t be scared to think outside the box though, the neck of a vase may be the perfect place to hide a bracelet and skewered chocolates may look great amongst the flowers.

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