How To Buy Your Lover Flowers

orchids james spader SecretaryFirst of all, must you? Do you even know if your lover has allergies? Maybe he will greet your gift with sneezes in lieu of thanks. Do you know how she reacts to typically “romantic” gestures? Maybe she will find the flowers cliched. Consider the possibilities before you plunk down $60.

If you are committed to going through with this purchase, do it right.

+ Plant people are different from flower people. Do not insult a plant person by giving him flowers or vice versa. How can you tell the difference? Well, plant people often leave clues: they are caretakers, martyrs; they have cats and/or sickly dogs and offer to drive friends to the airport. They are the kinds of folks who like to put in lots of effort in return for which they get little except the satisfaction of watching something that doesn’t care about them very much thrive.

On the plus side, giving a gift to these people feels more than usually fulfilling, because they tend to be surprised that someone is thinking of them for a change.

Flower people are more self-interested. They like compliments, flattery, ornamental things. They like to be driven to the airport. If you get the right kind of bouquet for a flower person, you will know instantly because he will take a selfie with the bouquet and post it to Instagram.

+ Even within the category of flower people, there are distinctions. These are not from the hot-house!” exclaims Marianne Dashwood with pleasure when Willoughby arrives with a fistful of wildflowers. “I’m afraid I borrowed these from an obliging field,” replies Willoughby, who is quite proud of himself for intuiting that his proto-GF is won over by that which is untamed and natural. (Because that is how she sees herself. See how this works?)

The mean heiress he ends up marrying is totally a hot-house, cultivated flower person; he will have to bring her roses regularly, and it serves him right for spurning his heart (and Marianne) in favor of his wallet.

sense and sensibility flowers wickham

Likewise, within the category of plant people, there are distinctions. Do not bring an orchid to someone who grows tomatoes or vice versa. Yes, we are large, we contain multitudes, etc., but I think even Walt would agree with me that generally speaking we either prefer plants to be functional (herbs, fruits) or we prefer them to be decorative (succulents, cactus).

Orchid growers meanwhile are their own kind of fussy. Do not give an orchid to someone who does not know how to care for it; orchids are notoriously high-maintenance. They will die just to spite you, or if they’re lonely.

orchids Elementary

When you do present someone with flowers, do it with panache. Don’t half-ass it by buying a pre-made sheaf from the supermarket on your way home that doesn’t smell like anything and will die within 48 hours. Invest some time and effort.

First, make sure your lover has a vase. If she doesn’t, get one to accompany the flowers. Then, once you’ve presented the flowers, unwrap and assemble them yourself. Include a bonus with the flowers, if possible, like a small piece of high-quality chocolate for her to savor while you work.

If you don’t have the cash for that, get creative. Scour a field, a la Willoughby, or buy one or two high-quality stems, put them in the prettiest empty wine bottle you can find, and adorn the bottle with a ribbon and a poem. Or eschew flowers altogether! Seriously, flowers are no more the law of the land than diamond rings are.

+ In most cases, branch out beyond roses. Also avoid daises and carnations, which are the elementary school children of flowers. At Adequate Man, Diana Moskovitz has a few recommendations:

Chrysanthemums, aka mums, are great if you want color, variety, and heartiness without selling your soul. They really do come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and varieties, and best of all, they’re not carnations. … Lilies are another great flower you should consider. They come in all sizes and colors, while also having a pretty good reputation for staying alive. A blooming lily, at least to my nose, smells divine. One of my favorite things about lilies is that, with just a bit of care, the buds on the cut flowers will still bloom. So over time, you cut away the dead parts while the buds bloom fresh flowers. Two bouquets for the price of one! …

Alstroemerias are delightful. Back in the day, I used to buy bunches of these cheap flowers at Walmart after work, arrange them at home while drinking beers, and marvel as those beauties still lasted at least a week, sometimes two. If that’s not a testament to a flower’s ability to survive anything, than I don’t know what is. They’re kinda tiny, so if you’re going for a big pop with your bouquet, consider these plus some more prominent flowers in a mixed bouquet. But don’t write these guys off, either—especially for a surprise, no-reason-at-all-but-love bouquet. Aren’t they cute?

I’m in favor of irises too, but irises are more classy than explicitly sexy, so it depends what kind of message you’re trying to send.

And, whatever else you do, remember to take the price tag off before you make your presentation.

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