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The Most Romantic Flowers for Valentine's Day, According to a Florist

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Roses are red–and you know the rest. Sugar is sweet, so on and so forth. Every year on Cupid’s Day, approximately 250 million roses will be produced for the holiday, according to the Society of American Florists. With the plethora of ruby petals that floods shops annually, it can be hard to imagine handing your sweetheart anything else. However, there is no shortage of options when it comes to originality on the most romantic day of the year. We spoke with Dallas-based florist Korrin Wheeler about the best flowers for Valentine’s Day, their meanings, the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping and how to make your cut flowers last longer.

“The beauty of flowers is no matter the intended symbolism, certain stems just represent something to everyone differently,” Wheeler says. “That's what makes receiving and giving flowers so special. Even if you do like the traditional red rose arrangement for Valentine's Day, maybe this is what you've always received, so it holds a special place in your heart. But it's 2023, let's branch out!” So this year, think outside of the rose bouquet and hand your loved one a more unique arrangement (just don’t forget the gourmet chocolates).

The Best Flowers for Valentine’s Day at a Glance

  • Best Flower for Established Relationships and Anniversaries: Hybrid Lily
  • Best Flowers for a New Romance: Ranunculus
  • Best Flowers for Friendship: Tulips
  • Most Affordable Flower: Carnations
  • Best Splurge: Orchids
  • Best Peony Look-Alike: Double Tulips
  • Best Dahlia Look-Alike: Chrysanthemums
  • Most Unconventional Flower Pairing: Sunflowers and Red Roses
  • Best Filler Flower: Snapdragon
  • Best Rose: Country Rose
  • The Show-Stopper: Anemone
  • The Unexpected Rising Star: Hydrangea
  • The Go-To Filler Flower: Peruvian Lily

The Best Valentine’s Day Gifts for Her


Meet the Expert

Best Flower for Established Relationships and Anniversaries

1. Hybrid Lily

Urban Stems

The hybrid lily is a bit of a dichotomy when it comes to meanings: It either symbolizes death or marriage. (In the case of Valentine’s Day, we would assume the latter.) Wheeler touts this flower as the most romantic flower to give if you’re in an established relationship or celebrating an anniversary.

“It's dramatic. You put it in a bouquet, and it takes it from ‘this is really cute’ to ‘this is really elegant.’ If you're not going to do a red rose, a lily is just a stunner,” she shares.

Best Flower for a New Romance

2. Ranunculus

Urban Stems

Think you’ve met that special someone? Wow them with a bouquet of ranunculus; the flower symbolizes charm and attractedness. Wheeler loves them for their feathery, almost paper-like appearance and uses them whenever she gets the chance.

“They show right out the gate that you're willing to get something different and unique other than roses. It's not necessarily a ‘hey, I love you’ flower; it's a ‘hey these are really beautiful, and I think you deserve something beautiful’ flower. That's an important message early on in a relationship, not to scare someone off. It's totally not a love-bombing flower.”

Best Flowers for Friendship

3. Tulips

Urban Stems

If you’re celebrating Gal-entine's Day (or any friendship), Wheeler recommends tulips—especially the yellow variety, which always lend a cheerful punch.

“They're beautiful in a vase on their own. They don't need anything to jazz them up.”

Most Affordable Flower

4. Carnations

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Flowers are, by default, expensive. But, if you want to stretch your budget, the good old carnation (shown in light pink, center, with roses and lilies) does the trick. Before you knock it, hear us out. They come in sundry colors and are nearly impossible to kill, Wheeler says. So if you want bang for your buck and longevity well past Valentine’s Day, these would be the ones to send.

"They're really resilient, they're beautiful, they don't die. It's hard to kill carnations. They get a bad rep because people tend to think that they're outdated; they're a 1980s flower. But I really think they're coming back. They're not going to be your focal point, but if you wanted to give a quick solo bouquet of carnations for a friend, that would be my route.”

Best Splurge

5. Orchids

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Delicate and beautiful, orchids have a reputation for being the ephemeral flower that will eventually wither away in your bathroom, no matter how much steam you give it. However, if you’re wanting to splurge for Valentine’s Day, Wheeler says a bouquet with orchids is the way to go.

“I've been seeing [Phalaenopsis] orchids [become] popular, especially in wedding bouquets, but I think they're going to start showing up in everyday bouquets as well. They're just breathtaking. If you want to stay away from the red, I love a white orchid, which also can symbolize purity and good intentions.”

Best Peony Look-Alike

6. Double Tulips

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Peonies are notorious for their short growing season. So, if you want something that gives the same volume in February, look no further than the double tulip.

“Once it starts to bloom, it has so many different layers. It's like a tulip but jazzed up,” Wheeler shares. “When you see these, you're going to want them.”

Best Dahlia Look-Alike

7. Chrysanthemums

Proflowers

Another tricky bloom to find out of season is the dahlia, which is where the chrysanthemum (shown in purple-pink, center, with roses and carnations) comes in. They’re also, according to Wheeler, a good middle of the road flower in terms of budget.

“I like to use them when I can't find dahlias. Chrysanthemums give you that fluff. They come in every color as well. You can play around with them, and they're not expensive,” Wheeler explains. “The red one symbolizes love—not like lust love. [More so the] love for a friend or someone you just started talking to.”

Most Unconventional Flower Pairing

8. Sunflowers and Red Roses

Urban Stems

Alone, the red rose feels standard. But, when paired with the big, bright yellow sunflower, it’s a chaotic twist that brings fun and playfulness into an arrangement. This is a popular request for Wheeler when people are sending flowers to friends.

"It's all about the balance of that bouquet. You want it to be eye-catching, but you don't want it to be chaotic. The sunflower is innately bright and symbolizes optimism and happiness. It wouldn't be something romantic. But then you pair it with a red rose and it's kind of like, OK. I guess it's just love all around. It's a big trend.”

Best Filler Flower

9. Snapdragon

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Bouquets don’t usually come stuffed solely with a single type of flower. Filler flowers add volume and dimension, giving the overall arrangement balance and harmony. One flower Wheeler especially enjoys (and that you can ask your own florist for) is the snapdragon (shown above in yellow with roses, daisies and carnations).

“I'm a sucker for the snapdragon in basically any color. I use them a ton, only because they're so elegant,” she says. “They stand up straight for the most part. They have a mind of their own. Sometimes they'll wrap around different things. I like to combine snapdragon with ranunculus and hydrangea.”

Best Rose

10. Country Rose

Urban Stems

Roses exist in what seems to be a myriad of varieties. David Austen, garden roses, Damask rose, Bonica 82...but of them all, Wheeler goes for the country rose.

“They're these tight spiral roses,” she explains. “They almost look like they're enclosed in another flower. Once they start opening, they give me peony vibes.”

The Show-Stopper

11. Anemone

Urban Stems

If you’re not in love with the hybrid lily or the ranunculus, the anemone is another splurge-worthy flower in Wheeler’s book. Though pricey, these blooms have personality, and are said to symbolize protection.

"They close in colder climates and when they're in darker rooms,” she elaborates. “Then they open right up in the sun. They have a life. That's why I love them so much.”

The Unexpected Rising Star

12. Hydrangea

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“I originally would say that a hydrangea is just a filler flower,” Wheeler begins. She has observed, though, that they’re making the move to full-blown centerpieces. "Some people really like the fluffy elegance of a hydrangea as the sole flower. They're kind of trendy right now because they're just pretty on their own. They don't really need anything to jazz them up.” While a rising star, hydrangeas are more so friendship flowers, symbolizing gratitude and forgiveness.

The Go-To Filler Flower

13. Peruvian Lily

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Another one of Wheelers favorite filler flowers is the Peruvian lily (shown in light pink above). Unlike snapdragons, which you could offer as a solo bouquet, Wheeler advises that this flower always plays a supporting role. There are some misconceptions, she says, that the Peruvian lily feels outdated—but don’t turn your back too quickly. “I think if you do it right, it's so pretty. They never die.”

How to Make Flowers Last Longer

If we’re lucky, our cut flowers might last a week, but eventually, wilt is inevitable. Follow these tips to extend the life of your blooms.

“Use a dash of flower food,” Wheeler instructs, noting that you shouldn’t go crazy with too much. Additionally, make a point to change the water every two to three days. If you’re feeling truly motivated, you’ll also want to wash the vase, too, all in the name of reducing bacteria.

"If you really want to stretch the life add cool water,” she recommends. “For roses and certain flowers, I even add ice. For hydrangeas, I wouldn't recommend doing that. Trimming the bottom of the stems [at an angle] when you change the water will also help them last longer. Eventually, when it comes down to the last few days of your flowers' life, you'll probably want to transfer them into a smaller vase b/c you'll be cutting the stems repeatedly.”