Are you the sort of guy who, come Valentine’s Day, finds himself utterly dumbfounded in the florists because all flowers look the same to you?
And with each flower’s special meaning “saying” something different, are you worried your ham-fisted selection will accidentally tell your partner that you want to break up with her or something equally calamitous on the day of love?
To stop you from committing a Valentine’s disaster, we’ve asked some top florists for some good advice on the most popular Valentine’s flowers – what they say and the sort of lady to buy them for.
At First Sight: It’s a rose, lover boy. If you’re the sort of bloke who doesn’t know what these look like, chances are you’re in trouble this Valentine’s either way.
What They Say: Longing and desire.
Who To Buy For: Pretty much anyone. Roses are so intrinsically tied to passion and romance, they always impress. Don’t go OTT though – send two-dozen of these to a new/prospective girlfriend might send her running.
Florist’s Opinion: “A red rose is a classic expression of love,” says Alfred Palomares, floral expert from 1-800-Flowers.com. “The flower itself means desire, and sometimes, it’s a desire to be forgiven…”
Match In A Bouquet With: They make a bold romantic gesture on their own.
At First Sight: With their large, cheery round heads, they look like miniature, more brightly coloured sunflowers.
What They Say: Fun, frolics and joyful vibes. They’re sweet and playful without being too serious.
Who To Buy For: A new girlfriend or someone you’re trying to show you’re interested.
Florist’s Opinion: “They are perfect for a young relationship or trying to get out of the ‘friend-zone’,” says Alfred. “Also, if you’re in a long-term relationship they’re a fun flower to send for Valentine’s Day, without all the pressure.”
Match With: Dianthus (meaning admiration) and orange roses (enthusiasm) for a sweet and thoughtful – and not too forward – bouquet.
At First Sight: Exactly like your red variety, but lavender. The rose’s most fashionable shade right now.
What They Say: Enchantment and love at first sight.
Who To Buy It For: That special new lady-friend you just know you’re destined for magical things with. They make a subtle but definite statement.
Florist’s Opinion: “Most men go for red roses early in the relationship,” says Sara Gordon, from Chelsea florists Bloom & Wild. “But a lavender rose is the right approach if you think she’s truly the one.”
Match With: A selection of different colour roses conveys multiple meanings. Include dark red (meaning beauty), purple (majesty) and pink (admiration).
Peachy Pink Snapdragons
At First Sight: A spike of intensely coloured blossoms. The heads do actually look a bit like long-snouted snappy dragons, if you squint a bit.
What They Say: Here comes a charming and devious fellow.
Who To Buy For: A wicked temptress and outrageous flirt. For a lady who always keeps you on your toes – whether that’s a long-term partner or devilishly saucy colleague who’s been making eyes across the office.
Florist’s Opinion: “If she’s the type of woman who always surprises you, don’t get her a traditional bunch,” says Sara. “Fashion-forward floral types love a snapdragon with their surprising colourways and funny face petals.”
Match With: A selection of multi-coloured snapdragons to keep it snazzy and mischievous.
At First Sight: Big busy-looking, star-shaped flowers that jump out at you.
What They Say: Celebration. Time for a big old romantic knees up, then.
Who To Buy For: The lady you’re about to pop the question to. Yes, fellas – this is the big one.
Florist’s Opinion: “A mixed bouquet featuring lilies is a great option for someone with whom you have long term plans,” says Alfred Palomares. “Lilies are a high-impact flower, and make a statement because of their size and fragrance. If there are a hundred reasons why you love her, you need one thing that says it all.”
Match With: A combo alongside waxflower (meaning happiness), red roses (desire) and Asiatic lilies (long-lasting love) makes an elegant bouquet.
At First Sight: An explosion of flowery loveliness, with their upright petals and hanging sepals known as “falls”.
What They Say: Faith, wisdom and valour (they also symbolise royalty, if you happened to be hooked up with an actual princess).
Who To Buy For: Someone who needs their faith in your wisdom and valour reassured. In other words, they’re a good one for heartfelt apologies.
Florist’s Opinion: “Irises usually arrive in bud form,” says Alfred. “Blooming over time, it’s a good flower to say ‘I’m sorry’… a constant reminder that you tried to make good on your screw up.”
Match With: Blue irises mixed with red tulips suggest a relationship that, like the flowers themselves, will continue to grow and evolve.
At First Sight: Sensual-looking, wide-open petals that are notable for their impressive natural symmetry. If you look closely and use your imagination, they’re quite, erm, womanly in their own way. Ahem.
What They Say: Every type of orchid has own subtle meaning. But they generally signify beauty, luxury and strength.
Who To Buy For: The lady who likes a bit of glamour and the finer things in life.
Florist’s Opinion: “Orchids radiate luxury,” says Alfred. “If she’s constantly posting pictures to Instagram of your chic home that she’s decorated, an orchid will be that finishing touch.”
Match With: Orchids say it best on their own. With almost 30,000 varieties, you’ll have a pick of colours too.
At First Sight: A blousy, grand looking flower – like a wedding dress turned upside down. And don’t think those wedding associations will go unnoticed, either.
What They Say: A long-lasting bond.
Who To Buy For: No messing around with flings or friends with benefits, these are for “the one”. Show them how they colour your life with this warming apricot hybrid.
The Florist’s Opinion: “Lisianthus flowers are utterly romantic,” says Sara Gordon, from Bloom and Wild. “Lisi is perfect for the long-time love of your life.”
Match With: An arrangement alongside roses and peonies is a classically romantic bouquet – and a regular pairing in wedding bouquets (hear the sound of those wedding bells yet?).
At First Sight: Resembling their namesake (though they’re not actually lilies, but instead a species called alstroemeria), these are like little bursts of colour, sometimes with tiger-striped petals.
What They Say: Friendship and devotion.
Who To Buy For: Someone you’re trying to tell you want to take the next step.
The Florist’s Opinion: “Somewhere between liking her latest Instagram pic and saying ‘I love you,’ you need to show her you care without totally creeping her out,” says Alfred. “Peruvian lilies show you support her as a friend and maybe more…”
Match With: Red roses, hot pink carnations and pink lilies – a perfect Valentine’s Day combo of sweetness and desire.
At First Sight: Tall, strong stems with cup-shaped blossoms that open and close. Can also keep growing after they’re cut.
What They Say: The different colours have different meanings – red says love and romance, white says sorry, yellow says cheer and happiness.
Who To Buy it For: It depends what you want to say, but it’s a unique flower, so give to someone who understands the tulip’s (and hopefully your) very special qualities.
Florist’s Opinion: “Tulips aren’t for someone you just met or are just dating,” says Alfred. “You buy them for someone you have a deep relationship with – someone who appreciates the thought.”
Match With: A bouquet of just tulips in her favourite colour will show that you’re paying attention.
At First Sight: Clusters of delicate white stars, with protruding antennae and bulbous ovary centres. Have a sniff too – they’re fragrant little devils.
What They Say: Hope and happiness.
Who To Buy For: These are classically beautiful flowers for a classically beautiful woman. That’s what you should write on the card, anyway. With their strong connotations of hope and happiness, they’re also an appropriately-sentimental choice for a partner you’re starting a family with. If all those sticky out bits don’t scream fertility, we don’t know what does.
Florist’s Opinion: “This flower blossoms over time beautifully with each of its buds opening individually,” says Sara. “It’s a flower that’s perfect for the aesthete.”
Match With: They make particularly attractive bouquets with either pink roses or poppies.
At First Sight: Proud, frilly heads that come in a variety of Valentine’s-friendly shades of pink and red.
What They Say: Love, fascination and distinction.
Who To Buy For: These are as universally romantic, though not as highly regarded, as the mighty rose. Which is another way of saying you can rely on a nice carnation when you’re too strapped to splash out on the big guns.
Florist’s Opinion: “A strong, sturdy and detailed flower,” says Alfred. “Carnations sometimes get a bad rap, and they really shouldn’t. If you are planning a Valentine’s Day dinner, put carnations in your centrepiece to add colour to the table.”
Match With: Pretty much anything – carnations with accent tor anchor any arrangement.