How to Buy Valentine's Day Flowers

The holiday (don’t even bother questioning, pal—it’s a holiday) rolls around once a year, and yet most of us continually find ourselves at a loss as to what to get the lady in our life come February 14th. We enlisted Denise Porcaro, owner of New York City’s Flowergirl (located inside Earnest Sewn’s Lower East Side store) to give us some pointers.
Photo: Everett Collection

Note: This is Harrison Ford from 'Witness,' not a Fall '11 lookbook shot.

Red roses. Period.
While Pocaro contends that in most cases specific types of flower “really don’t have particular meanings,” Valentine’s Day is one instance where you don’t get points for originality. “Red roses are love,” she says, so don’t bother coloring outside the lines.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up.
“Roses come in a huge range of reds,” says Pocaro, who recommends using “black beauties—which have a gorgeous, small head that’s a deep, almost blood red—then mix in larger roses that are almost pink, as well as the usual fire engine red.” (Note: if you simply must buck tradition, she suggests red peonies. “They still pack a punch, and they get the point across.”)

The smell of success.
“A lot of people, including me, complain that regular roses don’t smell anymore, because they’re so over processed,” says Pocaro. “So get garden roses, which smell really amazing. They’re readily available, though their lifetime is shorter than regular roses.”

Maximize staying power.
“When you buy flowers they are, essentially, dead—not to be morbid,” says Porcaro. But there are ways to ensure their afterlife span will be as long as possible. “Check that there’s a fresh cut on the stem,” she adds, “and also that there’s no browning at the bottom. The stem is the first bit that goes, so checking those two things is a way to make sure a flower’s water has been kept fresh. Also check the foliage—this usually turns before the petals, so look for any yellowing, even if the leaves are going to be removed.”

All of this is true whether you’re ordering from a fancy artisinal purveyor, or deciding which $10 bouquet to buy from the bucket at your local corner store. And if you somehow find yourself in that last scenario, “go easy on yourself,” says Porcaro. “It’s such a luxury to get flowers in the first place, you don’t always have to go all out. Look for the fun in it, and just get something.”

More from Pocaro at

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