Giving Flowers 101

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Tuesday 12th October 2010
In this article
  • Choosing flowers your SharpWoman will love — every time.
  • Flowers and flower arrangements to avoid.
  • Sending flowers to your long-distance SharpWoman.
Giving Flowers 101

If you’ve ever wondered why a virile, manly guy like yourself should ever bother to learn about something as dainty and frilly as flowers, here’s your answer.

Women Love Flowers

Yup, on the scale of romantic gestures guaranteed to score you points, flowers are pretty high up there. In fact, among the SharpWomen we polled, only jewelry rated higher. (I personally prefer SharpMan Media stock options, but let’s not get into that here.)

Of course, as a SharpMan, you’ll want your flowers to stand out from the pack. Learn a little about how to buy a great bouquet, and it’ll put you far ahead of the romantic competition. Keep reading for the SharpDating skinny on all you need to know:

Do You Have to Shell Out a Lot?

Here’s the big secret: no. If your flowers say "romance" and "taste," women don’t really care how little you spend. Really. Remember, it is the thought that counts. So if your thought is "You’re great," "I had a nice time," "I really like/love you," "I remembered" or anything else your SharpWoman wants to hear, showing her with flowers will have no relation to the, uh, size of your bouquet.

Of course, presentation has a lot to do with how well your flowers (particularly modest arrangements) are received. A big smile, a bigger kiss and a fistful of stems hiding behind your back — go for the show and you’ll get applause. Got it? Another winner is office deliveries; see below.

Even one flower can do it. In fact, a single, well-placed bud (it doesn’t have to be a rose) placed on her pillow, on her computer keyboard, in her shower — wherever — can say "I love you" or even "I’m the one you want." Single blooms are also a great way to cheer up a down-in-the-dumps SharpWoman.

SharpMan Tip on Single-Flower Gifts: To maximize on the single-flower gesture, it’s better to leave the bud where she will find it rather than hand it to her yourself. It just plays better that way.

Finally, there are some situations when spending more actually looks like less. For example, the SharpWoman you’ve just met will think you’re a pushover for sending an outrageously large arrangement the day after a first date. Give her a break. She’s got to have some room to move around in that cubicle. Besides, if that mammoth topiary is visible over the cube barrier wall, she’ll never hear the end of it from her boss, and you’ll inadvertently be the cause of her embarrassment. Women may deny this, but when it happens to them, they understand. See below for suggestions on the size of arrangements ideal for various situations:

When to Give Flowers

Anytime. Really. According to SharpWomen polled, spontaneous flowers (like any spontaneous act of affection) rank as one of the most romantic gestures out there. Women love to be pleasantly surprised by a beautiful bouquet at home and especially at the office (where they can show the arrangement off to jealous female colleagues, winning you big points). The size? Spontaneous flowers needn’t be big and pricey. Since she’s not expecting them, even modest arrangements and single stems will be winners.

First dates. First date flowers are controversial. Many SharpMen write to ask whether it’s appropriate to show up with flowers at the door. Our take? Unless it’s her first date ever, she’s a divorcee going out for the first time after the breakup, or you’re long-time friends who have finally gone out on a date, our position is "no." Dating is expensive enough without having to shell out for stems before the date even begins. If it turns out to be a great date, consider springing for flower delivery the following day. Otherwise, save your cash for dinner. Post-first-date flower arrangement size? Think "small and tasteful" to "medium." Why? It’s just a first date, remember? No need to give her the impression that she doesn’t have to dress up for you anymore.

Following especially romantic evenings. An excellent time for flowers is the morning after a particularly romantic evening or the Monday after a romantic weekend together: first sleepovers, first getaway weekends, etc. Ideally, these flowers should be delivered by a florist, not by you, to her office (but home is OK on a weekend), in order to maximize on the goodwill but give her the post-romance space we all need after a long evening or weekend with a new person. Remember that whole thing about absence making the heart grow fonder? It applies here. Post-romance flower size? Think "medium and tasteful."

Other special occasions. Flowers are also a nice gesture on birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions (such as promotions), but they aren’t required. You can replace flowers with some other nice gesture: an evening out, an evening in, a small gift, etc. The size for special occasion flowers? If you’ve ever wanted to spring for the bigger arrangement, break it out now. Otherwise, do what you can afford. After all, it’s you she should be happy to get.

Of course, there are those women who believe that flowers are a given on birthdays and anniversaries. Gauge your SharpWoman to see if she’s a stickler on this point. If so, forgoing flowers on these occasions will land you in the doghouse.

Doghouse offerings. Speaking of the doghouse, flowers are generally accepted by women as a welcome way to apologize and soothe injured feelings (but also see Apologizing 101: How to Apologize Without Giving in). If she’s speaking to you, you may even want to throw in some time together, like out on the town. Doghouse flower arrangement size? That depends. What did you do?

What Kind?

The first rule: you don’t have to give roses. Yes, they’re lovely, and, yes, the flower people have seemingly convinced everyone that there’s no other choice, but the fact is that since everyone believes this and gives them, they’re a bit too predictable. It’s like you followed the advice of some Web site that tells guys what women find romantic (just kidding!). Seriously, there are other flowers out there. And the truth is, most women prefer to get something more creative that looks like you put some thought into your purchase.

The second rule: Unless your SharpWoman specifically tells you she loves them, skip overplayed flowers like carnations, chrysanthemums and gypsophila (a.k.a., baby’s breath). Unfortunately for these flowers, mass-produced arrangements have put them into the "last-minute effort" column.

The third rule in giving flowers is get what she likes. Snoop around or ask. Find out what types of flowers she’s soft for (most women have one or two) and jot them down in your Palm Pilot (yes, you will forget the names). It doesn’t matter if she sees you feverishly graffiti-ing — she’ll think it’s charming at the time and still love the arrangement just as much when she sees it.

She doesn’t have a favorite flower? Get an arrangement in her favorite color(s). Still no luck? Then simply get something you like. That’s right, you can have opinions, too. And with the help of a good florist, you’ll probably end up with something pretty great.

The fourth and final rule? Go easy on the green stuff.

Arrangements with only a few flowers and an overwhelming amount of greenery and filling (like ferns and baby’s breath) look cheesy.

Compare these two bouquets to see why (we’re using roses to keep things simple):


See what we mean? The bouquet containing only 25 large roses and 10 spray roses is beautiful, tasteful and looks more impressive, while the bouquet of a dozen roses filled with greenery is decent, but looks empty and pale in comparison, despite the fact that it’s pricier than the first! The latter is what most women will receive. We suggest you stand out from the crowd and go for less green.

A Word on Giving Roses

If your SharpWoman is a stickler for roses, consider varying the color of rose you choose. Aside from being predictable, red roses are often harder to get (and more expensive) around popular flower-giving times of the year. Why follow the herd? Roses come in a variety of cool colors, and look far more dramatic in orange or white. Consider choosing your SharpWoman’s favorite.

Alternatively, choose a color that "communicates" for you. It won’t surprise you to hear that the clever rose-marketing people (actually, rose enthusiasts) have assigned "meanings" to gifts of various rose colors. Choose the color that matches your message:

Red: I love you

Pink: thankfulness, joy

Yellow: friendship, jealousy

Coral: desire

White: innocence, purity, secrecy

Lavender: enchantment

Orange: fascination

A single full bloom: I still love you

SharpMan Tip: For romantic gifts, avoid dark crimson roses. These are designated for mourning.

Flowers and Arrangements to Avoid

Many SharpMen know about as much about buying flowers as SharpWomen know about men’s athletic supporters. So to make things easy, here’s a list of arrangements you should avoid at all costs. Learn it. Live it. Love it. And you’ll never go wrong when making your selection.

  • Flowers in a cup. These are for your assistant, colleague or professor.
  • Flowers accompanied by a cute stuffed animal. These are for your little sister or niece’s birthday and are acceptable romantically only if you are in high school.
  • Arrangements that are too big (see above), particularly if sent to the office. These can be awkward to carry home and, well, sort of embarrassing. Better to spend your cash on quality and take the girl to a nice dinner.
  • Flowers from the grocery store, unless your grocery store happens to have an amazing floral department (and many are springing up). If so, make sure the wrapping looks like the kind a florist would use. No go? Ask for the stems to be wrapped in white butcher paper and add a bow around the bottom, if possible. Otherwise, grocery store flowers are best saved for presents to your dinner host or for decorating your own LovePad.

The gist here is that your flower choice should be romantic and tasteful. When in doubt, ask for another SharpWoman’s opinion. Don’t have an info source? See Are There Advantages to Staying "Just Friends?"

The Card

So important. Skip scribbling something on that attached blank card and you risk minimizing your points-earning effort. What should you write? It depends on your reason for forking out for the buds:

For example, Anytime flower cards can simply read "I love you." Since "Thinking of you" has been overdone by flower commercials, consider "Thinking of you and that/your [insert some adorable thing she did]."

Post-first-date flower cards should be a bit more guarded. Don’t give away the farm. Simply scrawl "I had a great time." We suggest adding your first name, since you never know.

Post-romantic evening cards can safely delve into cheese, but shouldn’t be crude. Think, "I can’t stop smiling."

Special occasion flower cards should be more effusive (i.e., think "mush") and personal. But keep things short. Consider referencing the occasion. For anniversaries, consider "Looking forward to another wonderful year." For birthdays, consider "Happy Birthday, (pet name)." For a job promotion, think "I thought these would look great on your new desk/in your new office" or simply, "I’m so proud of you." Of course, "I love you" always works for all the above.

Doghouse flower cards should be sincere, but should never grovel. Consequently, "I’m begging you" or "Please forgive me" are out. Keep your message short; don’t write an incriminating novel. Consider, "I’m sorry," "Let’s talk" or, if you must, "You were right."

Buying Flowers

Get your own florist. The other first step to making flower-giving easy is to befriend a florist. A good florist can walk you through your choices for any occasion, regardless of whether it’s a fancy store or a supermarket stand. To find the man or woman who will be "your" florist and confidant, ask women who get lots of flowers. New mothers and other recent hospital patients are your best bet.

No luck with the recently hospitalized? Ask any SharpMan or woman. Once you have a couple of recommendations, consider stopping by the shop for a full-dress inspection. Ideally, the folks at your florist should be knowledgeable and helpful. If they’re too "cool" to help a guy with questions, then they’re too "cool" to deserve your hard-earned cash.

Making the purchase. Once you have the great florist, the rest is actually pretty easy. If you’re picking up the flowers yourself, simply tell your florist how much you’d like to spend and the types of flowers or colors you’d like to incorporate in your arrangement. Specify if you’d like a formal or informal arrangement, or let the florist know what the occasion is. A good florist will help you choose each flower and work within your style and budget.

Making a purchase by phone. Of course, in a perfect world, all SharpMen would have the time to walk over to their florist and personally choose every flower that goes into Ms. Right’s arrangement. Since the world isn’t perfect, consider picking up the phone to your trusted florist, instead. For same day delivery, call as early as possible.

When placing an order, consider your budget and the types of flowers or colors you’d like to give. Give this information to your florist. If you’re ordering an assortment of flowers rather than a bouquet of one type, the florist will list the flowers in stock that meet your description and match your budget. You’re unlikely to recognize any of the names mentioned, so just go with the recommendations, or:

SharpMan Tip: For the truly fastidious, while on the phone, consider hopping online and searching for the flower names mentioned on the Web. In addition to your favorite search engine, try gardeners’ Web sites like

Once you’ve agreed to the types of flowers, consider doing a quality check. Tell your florist what you were hoping the arrangement would say (i.e., impressive, modest, etc.) or just describe the occasion. Ask your florist whether the arrangement you’ve just ordered matches your description or the occasion. A good florist will not try to sell you more than you need, but will be frank if your budget doesn’t match your expectations. If you find that the product isn’t "enough" and you can’t move up on the dollars, ask your florist to recommend less expensive flowers in the same color category.

Before hanging up, be sure to give your florist all the delivery details, i.e. name, address, company name, direct dial telephone number. If the flowers will be delivered to your SharpWoman’s workplace, be sure to tell the florist her particular department and working hours, and be accurate.

Finally, realize that placing flower orders on any holiday, but particularly Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, requires early action. Believe it or not, a day or two early may not be early enough. Consider placing your order (and then confirming) a week before a major flower holiday. Otherwise, you’re likely to pay more, get less (or worse, whatever others rejected) or risk spending all night combing the supermarket florists for the last wilted red rose in town.

Ordering flowers for your long-distance SharpWoman. Ordering flowers in another town is tricky. You can’t rely on your trusted florist, so how do you ensure that the flowers you pay for will be the flowers she gets? You may think that what follows will be a plug for using the services of online florists or national flower delivery services.


While ordering based on an online picture may seem safe (she will supposedly get an arrangement identical to the one pictured), it’s so impersonal. Why bother? Why send her the same mass-produced arrangement thousands of other women will get that day? Additionally, while there are several reputable online florists out there (;;, perfect quality control is hard to achieve en masse.

Nothing beats a personal touch.

Instead, consider replicating your in-town process. Ask your florist to recommend a good local florist in your SharpWoman’s town. No luck there? Consider visiting for a directory of local florists.

Call the local florist yourself. In addition to the steps outlined in "Making a purchase by phone" above, take an extra minute to describe the type of container you want (if any), including the container’s color, to ensure that your SharpWomen gets the style and quality you had in mind.

Got all that down? Now go out there and use those stems to your advantage…

This article last updated on Tuesday 12th October 2010
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