It shouldn’t come as a surprise that prices of red roses increase right before Valentine’s Day. But Romeos on a budget don’t have to fall prey; they just need to act fast, now that Valentine’s is only three days away.
More cut flowers are sold at Valentine’s each year than any other time, accounting for 40 percent of florists’ holiday sales, including Mother’s Day, Easter and Christmas, according to the Society of American Florists, a trade group.
Many florists increase their rose prices this time of year because it costs more to harvest and ship so many roses in such a concentrated period, says the group’s Vice President of Marketing, Jennifer Sparks. A dozen long-stem red roses go for $60 to $80 at Valentine’s, she says.
Ordering online from sites that work directly with growers is generally the best way to save on Valentine roses. You can get up to 30 percent off — and often get fresher flowers, says Scott Testa of Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa. Just remember you’ll usually have to arrange them yourself.
Other deals abound online this year — like free shipping (and no service charges) on a broader assortment of flowers than in other years at 1-800-Flowers.com through Friday. The nation’s No. 1 floral purveyor, FTD.com, offers a wide variety of roses at a range of prices, including stems three to five feet tall for as much as $380 each.
With 300 different varieties of cut roses on the market, shopping for the symbolic blossom can be confusing. Here more tips:
Compare prices. Your local florist may also do business online at competitive prices, says Sparks. For a directory, check her group’s Web site, Aboutflowers.com. Testa also recommends reading customers’ online reviews and scouring coupon sites like retailmenot.com, couponshack.com and coupons.com for discounts.
And don’t fall for throw-ins like chocolates and stuffed animals, cautions Jeanette Pavini, household savings expert for coupons.com.
Long versus short. Roses with shorter stems cost much less (and can be easier to display). Customers also should look at the petal count and size of the rose head and consider whether they want a bouquet or flowers they’ll arrange themselves, says Sparks. A long-stemmed rose usually is at least 24 inches tall, a short-stemmed about 16 inches. At Perry’s Florist in Glen Rock, N.J., the long-stemmed red ones go for $9.50, the short for $6.50.
Ask questions. Sparks advises customers consult with florists to ensure their bouquet is within their budget but also suits their loved ones. Bear in mind that a mixed bouquet with a few roses not only will be less expensive; it could appeal more to your recipient, Sparks says.
Nontraditional venues. Check grocery stores, whose floral departments may be bigger than you realized. Costco Wholesale Corp. was offering three dozen long-stemmed red roses in a vase with baby’s breath online for $99.99 this week, and the company’s warehouse stores were selling a dozen long-stemmed roses for $14.99.
Nontraditional colors. A dozen red roses is still the Valentine’s classic. But your love may prefer pink or orange or another color that can cost less.
Just one rose? Giving your loved one a single long-stemmed rose is a powerful statement of commitment. And you can put the $75 or so that you save toward dinner for two — or another gift.