How to buy flowers

A simple and straightforward way to make that random, unprompted romantic gesture … or is it?

Buying flowers should be a simple and straightforward way to make that random and seemingly impulsive romantic gesture. If only it was really that easy. Aside from the obvious pitfalls of buying flowers (will they think I’ve done something wrong?!) buying flowers for your nearest and dearest is far more complicated than you could ever hope to imagine.
That’s because flowers have their very own secret language. A language that will speak volumes about your intentions, your thought processes and ultimately, how much you really care for your other half.
But this isn’t a Victorian guide to floral etiquette. Does anyone these days really know what gifting, say, a bunch of Ranunculus means? Or can even profess to knowing what they are?
With that in mind, what you need is a foolproof guide to buying flowers…

The first mistake
Straight off there is one major no-no. Flowers, no matter what type, should never be bought from a petrol station. Petrol stations are yet to come into the 21st Century in floral terms, and tired blooms wrapped in spotty cellophane are, quite frankly, the ‘whatever’ of gifting flowers.

Knowledge is power
The first step to success in buying flowers is in listening to, and knowing, your partner. Do they have a favourite flower? If not, consider incorporating their favourite colours or think about the type of person they are. Are they very feminine, do they go for big statements, understatements, bold colours, or neutrals? If you can go to a florist armed with just some of this information then you’re winning.

Ask the pros
If you don’t know your flowers, don’t panic, that’s what the pros are for. You are neither expected to know what flowers ‘say’ any more than you are expected to know what’s in season. Be guided by your florist and trust their expertise and experience – they will be able to show different combinations based on your likes and dislikes as well as any information you have on the recipient. They’ll also know what’s popular and if something is perhaps, a little inappropriate to gift someone you’re trying to impress.

Bunches to avoid
If you haven’t got the time or inclination to have a florist assemble a tailor-made bunch for you, that’s fine, but it may be worth knowing that there are some genera of flower whose meanings have not been lost over time or whose meanings have become subverted by modern-day myths and prejudices, and it’s these you will do well to avoid.
Carnations are generally thought of as a poor man’s flower. Notoriously cheap blooms, they also suffer from their forecourt image of yesteryear and as such are probably best left alone, unless you were hoping for ‘underwhelmed and disappointed’ on presentation of your offering.
Lilies are very popular but are commonly associated with funerals and should probably be given a wide berth in this respect. While many people do like them, if you’re looking for another reason to avoid them, their pollen is notorious for staining clothes and carpets irreparably.
Red roses. You could be forgiven for thinking that in proffering a bunch of classic red roses that you are the very incarnation of Don Juan, but this isn’t strictly true. There’s a danger that in going for the ‘easy option’ you may trip yourself up and convey a lack of thought. It’s also worth bearing in mind that to really get some show-stopping roses you’ll need to lavish some very serious money to get the best of the bunch.

Supermarket sweep
Supermarkets, unlike petrol stations, have come on leaps and bounds with their floral offerings and there are some really quite sumptuous bunches to be had here. Trust not only your judgment, but also the price point. It’s probably not wise to look at anything costing less than £7 or £8. Look for bunches that are tied nicely or in individual vases rather than just wrapped in cellophane. You’ll pay for more for something like this but they will doubtless have the wow factor you are looking for.

Delivery
Ordering flowers for delivery has never been simpler. You can visit any number of online delivery sites and make your choice from a visual catalogue of bouquets and baskets. While some may consider this to be a little impersonal, there are still brownie points to be had in gifting flowers in this way. The element of surprise is certainly here and a floral delivery never goes unnoticed in the office or by nosy neighbours, so you’ll be a hero all round.

The personal touch
If you want the whole thing to be a distinctly more personal affair then be fearless and go right ahead. Head to a florist and don’t be afraid to take the lead. Pick out the stems you think your other half will love, then ask the florist to give you options on presentation. Don’t allow them to make any snips or ties to your bunch until you’re completely happy to commit. A uniquely tailored bouquet of flowers stands head and shoulders above any ‘off-the-peg’ bunch, so any time and effort you invest in making such a personal gesture will not go unnoticed or unrewarded.
Best of luck …