Picking out Valentine's Day flowers probably seems like a no-brainer: a dozen Valentine roses every time. Sure, it's a classic, but it can also seem a little… expected. That's why we reached out to our favorite floral expert, Kate Law, who also helped us find the perfect flowers for Mom on Mother's Day.
As the director of merchandising and product design at ProFlowers, Kate puts flowers through their paces to make sure they're as fresh as possible, both physically and creatively. She draws on years of floral expertise to give us a veritable bouquet of tips on how to create the perfect flowers for Valentines Day, how to pull off your own creative Valentines, and how to choose the most appropriate flowers for non-romantic loved ones.
What Kate looks for in flower arrangements right off the bat is freshness, even going so far as to label herself "a freshness snob." It makes sense—after all, it won't matter how pretty the flowers look if they’re a wilted mess the next morning. To avoid this scenario, think about roses like you'd think about produce: smell, touch, and examine them.
"One of the tricks that I always use is to literally give the heads kind of a gentle squeeze,"Kate said. "The firmer they are the fresher they are."
If you can't physically feel the Valentine's day flowers you're purchasing, do a little background research on the company's sourcing practices. ProFlowers, for example, maintains personal relationships with their growers and keeps meticulous tabs on everything: from the exact time each flower is cut, to how long they've been on the road.
"Every guy wants to send red roses, and they think it's something that they kind of have to do for Valentine's Day," says Kate. So how do you make such a common gesture special? Incorporate your significant other's favorite colors, either by mixing in other flowers, or choosing an appropriate packaging. If you're really looking to step it up, pair it with a favorite confection. You can't go wrong with truffles or chocolate-dipped berries, but if they love nothing more than a classic Snickers, work that into the presentation.
"I think the best gift is the unexpected one" says Kate. But since there's not a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to traditional gifts (you're pretty much limited to flowers and chocolates), you'll need to get creative. "I've seen people send them a day or two early, which always catches people off guard" and basically sets the stage for a great Valentine's Day.
If you're looking to outdo yourself, Kate suggests sending different gifts to different locations. Send a bouquet to work, and have chocolates waiting at home.
The secret to the best Valentine flowers often come with a special presentation. But if you're not the type to build a rustic wheelbarrow vase out of reclaimed barn wood, don't fret. Kate clued us into an easy trick that's long on creativity and short on labor: break up large bouquets into smaller bunches, pop them in bud vases, and stash them around the house. That way, the surprise is renewed with every beflowered room your loved one walks into.
Another great idea: swap out the vase for a champagne bucket, and fill it with ice, water, flowers, and a bottle of your favorite champagne. Genius!
Can you have also have a friend valentine? Of course! Over the past couple years, folks have been expanding the concept of who gets to participate in Valentine's Day—think pal-entines, gal-entines, or even colleague-entines.
"A mixed bouquet is a nice touch for someone you really care about" but aren't romantically interested in. She recommends red, white, and pink sweetheart tulips for close gal pals: "they're so fresh and cheerful and they kind of just symbolize spring." For moms, sisters, and daughters, she suggests adding a handful of purple or pink roses. One word of caution though: when it comes to platonic friends, "just stay away from the red roses" to avoid sending the wrong message.
This article was originally written in 2017. It has since been updated.