Americans love flowers… and Valentine’s Day

Americans love flowers… and Valentine’s Day
Give it a little thought, and make the right choice.

Tulips AA
Many flowers besides red roses, such as these tulips, make beautiful Valentine’s bouquets. Photo by Ashley Nickole Andrews.

If you are celebrating Valentine’s Day tomorrow, you’re in the majority. According to the National Retail Federation, 54.8 percent of us will be celebrating this day, spending an average of $147, and a total of $19.7 billion nationally. And, nearly $2 billion of that will be spent on flowers. (Flowers get beat out only by jewelry and by evenings out in Valentine’s spending.)

In terms of dollar volume spent on fresh flowers purchased for holidays, Valentine’s Day ranks number one, accounting for 40 percent of such purchases. About one quarter of American adults purchased flowers or plants as gifts for Valentine’s Day last year. Men tend to buy Valentine’s flowers more for a romantic partner, while women often will buy Valentine’s Day flowers for other family members and friends, in addition to their spouse or partner. Red roses are by far the most popular choice, but there are many other choices and things to consider.

When buying roses, different colors carry different meanings:

  • Red: love and respect
  • Deep Pink: appreciation
  • Light Pink: admiration or sympathy
  • White: reverence or humility
  • Yellow: joy and gladness
  • Orange: enthusiasm or filled with desire
  • Red and yellow blends: gaiety and joviality
  • Pale blends: friendship

You can’t beat being thoughtful. Choose something that reminds you of your partner or friend, or something they have commented on in the past. A friend of mine is dating a woman who remarked a while ago that she loved tulips. He remembered, and guess what she got delivered to her at work yesterday? Yep, tulips. He scored major points with that one.

Look for flower choices that will bring back a pleasant memory or have sentimental meaning. Growing up, we had a patch of beautiful bright pink peonies on one side of our house, and a long row of snow-white lilies of the valley on the other side. The sight and smell of both bring back warm memories of my youth and good times spent in our yard each spring.

Scent or no scent? You might automatically want to buy something that has a strong, sweet scent. But, many people have allergies or react badly to strongly scented flowers. After my first daughter was born, I kept putting her by some roses people had brought me to take her picture. Her face kept breaking out in a rash. I finally made the connection, moved the roses away from her, and no more rash. Fast forward about 17 years, she had hip surgery. I failed to learn my lesson and brought some wonderfully fragrant Oriental lilies to the hospital. I was promptly turned away by the nurse, who said because of the strong smell, these flowers were not allowed in the hospital. Does your sweetie wear perfume or cologne, or not? This may be a clue to his/her preference regarding fragrance.

Cut flowers or potted flowers/plants? Does the person you’re buying for have plants in the house? If so, this person likes houseplants and is willing to take care of them. People who are more practical and like to get “bang for their buck” may also prefer potted flowers or plants that will last longer. Some potted flower choices, such as miniature roses, can be enjoyed indoors for a while, and then are hardy enough to be planted and enjoyed in the yard. On the other hand, for the hopeless romantic, probably nothing beats cut flowers.

Claudene Wharton is communications specialist with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. For questions about gardening and landscaping in Nevada, contact a Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteer at  or 775-336-0265.