Today is a holiday I made up – “Buy your own flowers for cheap, because who cares if you have them on the 14th or the 15th?” Day. It’s the one where all the things that weren’t sold yesterday during Valentine’s Day go on super sale. It’s also the day every year where I go and buy myself flowers.
If no one spoiled you yesterday, screw them, you’re an adult, get yourself flowers.
It took my husband several years to actually believe me when I told him NOT to buy me flowers on Valentine’s Day. Once you’re married you realize that even when your husband spends money on gifts for you – he is still spending your money, too. Since I like money and prefer saving it, I learned I can still have a beautiful flower arrangement for much less if I just go ahead and buy myself the flowers I actually want on the 15th instead.
Here are my steps for post-Valentine’s flower buying (especially roses) I promise will give you a stunning bouquet that makes you feel like you spent $100 on yourself for pennies on the dollar (I spent $14 this year.)
Why buy roses now?
Stores order their rose and flower selections for Valentine’s Day months in advance and because they’re an item with such a high markup and margin – they almost always get much more than they anticipate they’ll be able to sell. For an store, they can throw out a large portion of their flower order still make money.
The flowers are already a “sunk cost” for the store, meaning that paid for already if a consumer buys them or not. So for something like roses, which become basically worthless after a few days, they’d rather sell them to you for any money than just trash them for nothing. Any flower sale to them on February 15th or 16th is basically free money to the store. Take advantage of this situation for yourself!
First – Selection
When you’re faced with the next-day dregs flower selection, what you see initially might depress you. They’re selling these flowers for 50% (or more) off for a reason. These deep discounts will be seen most significantly on the excess goods that lose value the fastest – like flowers – which have a shelf life of just a few days. Other people didn’t buy them on Valentine’s proper – but inside these leftovers, there’s likely a beautiful sunshine nugget just waiting for you to pull it out.
Don’t despair – inside even the most beat-up looking flower is a beautiful blossom waiting to emerge. When you’re checking out what they have, ignore the outer petals and look to the center petals. You can only see the top, but do they look like they’re in good shape or are they brown a crumply too? Lean toward flowers that have the more pristine centers, even if they look more beat up at first blush.
Buy a lot. Why not? Most of the bunches I grabbed cost me $2. At that price, even if a few of the blooms have to go straight to compost, you’re still way ahead of the “must have my flowers promptly on Valentine’s Day” zombies.
Second – Pruning
Here’s where the real magic happens. Unwrap your bounty and take stock. Are there any with broken stems? Remove those, cut the stems short and at an angle – put them in shot glasses to just set around.
Cut each stem at an angle – that way there’s more exposed surface area to absorb water so the flowers will last longer. Remember as you’re hacking – you can always make a stem shorter but you can’t add it back if you cut it too short.
Remove leaves – I remove every leaf that will be below the water line or any that are creased or smashed in any way. Flowers, even after they’re cut, have limited energy – just like any plant. You want them to put all their energy into being beautiful. If you leave any parts that are damaged, the plant will use its resources to repair itself first and won’t last as long. I prefer fewer leaves on my stems, but that’s just a matter of taste.
Prune petals – Especially with next-day roses, this is what makes the difference. Roses have outer petals called “guard petals” these are generally the larger ones on the outside that get beat up. Grip the base of any petal that’s showing damage and gently pluck from the bottom. You’ll work in a circular pattern around the flower until every petal that has any sign of damage is removed. For some flowers, it will leave you with a partially-opened blossom, with others it could be a tight bud in the shape of a Hershey’s kiss.
There are several things to remember when you’re putting your flowers into your chosen container. If you choose to add a medium in the bottom it can be helpful to keep them in place – I use those glass gem things. You want to try to shape your flowers almost like a half a sphere, with the taller stems in the middle, and the shorter out toward the edges. Part of this will happen naturally as they’re arranged, but you may have to trim some further. Try to prevent any from sticking out too far or being too short to disrupt the natural flow for the eye.
Also when arranging flowers, remember to leave “negative space” which is just as important as the space filled with the bloom. Giving the eye the ability to rest on each blossom will increase the visual effect. Some people like to add greenery to fill the space to really set them off – I went with a more minimalist look this year because the flowers stood so well themselves.
That’s it! Look at you. You have a bouquet that would have cost a gazillion dollars on Valentine’s Day and you got it for almost nothing. Go you. You don’t need anyone to buy flowers for you, you got your own.