Buying flowers on Valentine's Day is like picking up a turkey on Thanksgiving. You can't expect to roll up on the day of (or even the day before) and select from the freshest-looking specimens. According to Lynn Jawitz of Florisan LLC (212-426-9886, florisanllc.com) the best way to keep costs down is to order your bunch in advance; a week can make a very big difference to the price and the quality of the blooms. If you're flying by the seat of your pants—or madly refreshing OkCupid—and can't plan ahead, another cost-cutting measure is to avoid red roses. Sure, they're classic, but you are not the Bachelor. Get colored roses instead—they're more available, less clichd and will be better priced.
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You might eschew the rose altogether in favor of another variety. Carnations and chrysanthemums offer great value for money. But if you're the traditional sort who feels a rose is a must, then mixed bouquets can be a good way to keep costs down. Armed with these frugal flower tips, you're ready to go shopping at these bottom-dollar stores:
Florists' Transworld Delivery
This national online megaflorist can afford to keep costs down, but you'll be running the usual online-shopping risk of not being able to see the true product before purchasing it. You can order a bouquet of roses starting at just $29.95, and choose from somewhat corny accoutrements such as heart-shaped chocolates, jewelry and teddy bears. Orders placed as late as 2pm can usually be delivered the same day, but FTD recommends getting your order in early to avoid the Valentine's Day crush. 1-800-736-3383, ftd.com
There are plenty of bouquets to choose from for less than $50: Pick up three red roses or a bunch of colored roses and carnations in a glass vase for $49.95. For truly frugal (and last-minute) romantics, the store will have some specials on Valentine's Day. Same-day delivery is available during the week, but Booth recommends allowing an extra day before major holidays, including the big V-day. 5707 Main Street at 57th Rd, Flushing, Queens (718-539-7333, boothflowershop.com).
Talk to the eponymous Sunny Hwang at this East Village florist, and the charming proprietor/owner will help you choose the pick of the bunch. She has been selling blooms at this location for 24 years, and says the line often snakes around the block on Valentine's Day. Prices start at around $20 for a small bunch, with more involved bouquets climbing in cost depending on your choice of flowers; a dozen roses will set you back $60 or more. If you would like an artful arrangement in a vase, order at least a week in advance; otherwise, the flowers will be simply wrapped with tissue paper and cellophane on the spot. 102 Second Avenue at 6th St (212-473-0185).
Can't make it out to a florist in time? Read our tips on choosing bodega flowers.