By Olivia Lin, Cheapism.com
Red roses are the quintessential symbols of love on Valentine's Day, but a dozen can cost a bundle if you buy them that day or arrange a delivery to your loved one. But the following thrifty flowers for Valentine's Day won't set you back quite so far and will last far longer in your valentine's vase -- especially if you pick them up at the florist and deliver them yourself.Alstromeria
Alstromeria. Often described as a miniature version of lilies ("Peruvian lilies"), these delicate blooms are recognizable by contrasting colored stripes and dashes that spill out from the center of the flower onto the petals. In addition to shades of red, pink, and white, alstromeria come in yellow, green, orange, mauve, and purple. When selecting your stems, feel the leaves to estimate the age of that stem. If they're crisp and firm, it's a fresh bunch from the grower. Alstromeria last up to 14 days in water if properly cared for. At half the cost of a dozen red roses at ProFlowers.com, you can get 100 Peruvian Lily multi-colored blooms for $19.99; 200 blooms go for $29.98.
Related: Best champagne under $20 a bottleChrysanthemums
Chrysanthemums. These hardy flowers (nicknamed "mums") come in a variety of bright colors, including red, pink, yellow, white, off-white, lavender, burgundy, and gold. Depending on the variety, a chrysanthemum stem can hold one or multiple blooms. Unlike roses, mums grow in many different shapes, such as spidery blooms with long, skinny petals and puffy round blooms with densely packed petals. Try Delano mums for a burst of burgundy red, Zesty Jean mums for a pastel peachy color, or Hillside Pink Sheffield mums for a soft pink shade as thrifty Valentine's Day flowers. Mums can last up to 20 days in a vase (two weeks longer than roses). 1800flowers.com is selling a dozen red roses for $34.99-$39.99, but $29.99 will get you a fresh white chrysanthemum daisy plant with multiple fresh flowers that will bloom continuously (again, if properly cared for).A carnation
Carnations. Much loved for their pretty ruffled petals, carnations have a role in just about any occasion. The natural colors of a carnation are pinkish-purple and peach, but, depending on the florist, you can find any number of modified colors. Build your bouquet of thrifty Valentine's Day flowers with large-blossom carnations (one bloom per stem) and surround them with bunches of a smaller variety (spray carnations, for example) or stems with smaller flowers (such as dwarf flowered carnations). If properly cared for, carnations can last up to 20 days. You can buy a bouquet of colorful carnations for Valentine's Day that's at least twice the size of a dozen red roses for the same price or less. At ProFlowers.com, 100 carnation blooms are tagged at $29.99 compared with a penny less than $40 for 12 roses.
Final Tips. To avoid paying the Valentine's Day mark-up, pick up your flowers two to three days early or place the order with a local florist several days before a February 14 pick up to see if they'll quote you the normal, un-Valentine's Day retail price.
To ensure that your flowers look fresh for the big day, submerge them in cool water as soon as possible and place them in a cool area away from heat and sun. Stems should be cut several inches up from the bottom at an angle once every couple of days so they can absorb water easily and prolong flower life. A packet of flower nutrient helps immensely.
If you buy the flowers unwrapped, pick up tissue paper, ribbons, and wrapping paper and wrap the bouquet yourself.
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