Candy, jewelry, cards and fragrances have their place on Valentine’s Day, but flowers — especially roses — appear to say it all when it comes to love. The Feb. 14 holiday devoted to romance spurs the sale of more than 100 million roses in the United States alone, according to the Society of American Florists.
Proving that Valentine’s Day is a holiday steeped in tradition, the red rose — a time-treasured symbol of love — still reigns supreme, say three local florists.
Joanne Daly of Charming Petals Flowers and Gifts in Dracut has stocked up on premium long-stem red roses. And she expects this year to be bigger than last.
“When it falls on a weekend, as it did last year, a lot of people will go out to dinner or go on a romantic overnight getaway instead of buying flowers,” she said. And a weekend holiday also eliminates a popular choice of flower delivery to the female’s workplace, she added.
Daly, Susan Miranda of Exquisite Flowers, Etc., Pelham and Jean Piccirillo of Piccirillo the Florist in Methuen all agree red roses are the number-one seller.
Daly and Mirsanda also both say that men “love” to deliver flowers to her place of work.
“They definitely prefer to send them to the workplace, because then everyone ooos and ahhhs,” laughed Daly.
Daly says that about 75 percent of her male customers come in knowing exactly what they want, whether red roses or his loved one’s favorite color. The other 25 percent are looking for suggestions, she said.
Flowers top the list, but Daly also sells Valentine-themed gift baskets, stuffed animals and novelties. And rising in popularity are aquatic gardens, she said.
Daly’s Valentine aquatic gardens feature a glass vase filled with water, a red beta fish, red and white rocks, and roots from a peace lily. The white lily blooms from the vase, which is tied with a Valentine ribbon. Daly explains that the fish, which feeds from the roots, only has to be fed once a week, and the water only needs changing every few weeks.
Tulips have also become a popular choice in recent years, say both florists.
“Everyone is looking for spring,” said Daly. “With the weather being lousy, tulips are a reminder that spring is coming.” The most popular colors, she adds, are red, pink, white and lavender.
The Society of American Florists indicates that 64 percent of Valentine flowers are ordered by men and 36 percent by women. Miranda and Daly agree that their Valentine clientele is predominantly male, who spend from $75 to $100 to satisfy Cupid’s arrow.
While there is an increase in women ordering flowers for men, it’s still a small percentage of their Valentine business, they say. Daly said she sees more “younger women” buying flowers for men.
Miranda does offer a “junk food basket” filled with candy, cookies and chips, which she says is a popular female-to-male Valentine gift.
Yet overall, the holiday for romance remains pretty much unchanged over the years, both florists agreed.
“Men don’t like to go too far off track. They stick with what is safe,” smiled Daly. “If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it.”
Exquisite Flowers has preordered 3,800 premium long stem red roses and 2,200 combined of pink, yellow, purple, peach and white.
“People need a boost at this time of year, and they still want to buy the roses — no matter the economy,” Miranda said. “It boosts morale to take a day out to say ‘I care about you’ or ‘I love you.'”
Exquisite Flowers sold out of roses by 3 p.m. last Valentine’s Day, Miranda said. “Men don’t always plan ahead and start fighting over what is left,” she laughed.
Miranda stresses the importance of ordering ahead for the biggest day of floral deliveries for most florists. “Now is not too soon,” she advised in early February.
While a dozen red roses in a vase is the most popular choice, Miranda says that often the men will send along a balloon, chocolates or a teddy bear with the roses.
Some of her male customers are creative when it comes to romance, she added. “One orders a dozen roses — four red, four yellow and four white. The red means love, the yellow means friendship, and the white is because she is an angel.”
Another orders a dozen red roses with a card that reads, “I will love you until the last rose dies.” And in the center is a red silk rose, she said.
At Piccirillo the Florist in Methuen, red roses are also the number-one seller.
Jean Piccirillo, wife of owner David, said some customers call two weeks in advance to place their orders for Valentine’s Day, but some still come into their Broadway shop on the day itself.
“We do a dozen to a couple of dozen roses,” Piccirillo said. “Some even chose just to do a simple single rose on Valentine’s Day.”
Piccirillo also offers fruit baskets, but they tend to not be a big seller on the lovers holiday.
“We have teddy bears with roses or balloons that sell well on Valentine’s Day,” Piccirillo said. “But a dozen red roses in a vase with a ribbon is still the most popular.”
Piccirillo has been around for 50 years with two locations in Methuen — 31 Ruskin Ave. and most recently a retail store at 95 Broadway. The retail store is mostly used for special occasions, while the Ruskin Avenue location is geared towards weddings and funerals.
“(My husband) was born into the business,” Piccirillo said. “I have been here now for 20 years.”
Valley Dispatch reporter Gayle Simone contributed to this story.