William Shakespeare once suggested that a rose was a rose (or to be exact, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"), but in these modern economic times, a rose is a rose, is also a sale. And with this Sunday devoted to celebrating Mother’s Day, an official holiday since 1914, comes the mother of flower sales, with just under $2 billion spent on plants that sadly, inevitably wither.
With that said, what is the best way to spend your chunk of that $2 billion? Pret-a-Reporter speaks with three established experts -- Kevin Lee (one of the premier florists at Bloom Nation whose clients include the Oscars and Emmys, as well as many Hollywood weddings); John Tabis (founder of The Bouqs, who previously did marketing strategy for brands like Disney and ESPN before strategizing petals and stems); and Preston Bailey (a celebrity event designer, who has produced the goods for the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Hudson and Uma Thurman, and has recently released his sixth book, Designing with Flowers) -- in the field (no pun intended) to find out how to keep the bloom on the rose so your mama will feel super special.
What should we look for from a florist?
Lee: When you search for a florist, look at their website so you can see the flair of the style. However, you really have to visit and get to know the florist personally to understand what they specialize in to make sure they are the right fit for you.
Bailey: Find a florist that understands your budget and style. You want someone who will make your vision come to life! If it feels right to you, that’s all that matters.
Tabis: It's largely about fit. Price point, ethos, product selection and style should match you and your recipient well. It's often tough to find that perfect fit, but you'll know it when you see it
Are there specific flowers you don’t want in your arrangement, ones that "don’t play well with others"?
Lee: There’s no such thing as a flower clashing with another flower. They’re all beautiful -- depending on how they’re arranged.
Bailey: Many flowers, such as lilies, have strong scents and others have scents that become even more accentuated when grouped together. Consider all of your senses when designing a bouquet.
Tabis: Any flower paired with a teddy bear or a plastic butterfly should be avoided at all costs. And avoid all "filler," like baby's breath and leatherleaf. They cheapen the overall look of the bouquet. All killer, no filler.
Let’s be honest -- how long should an arrangement last, and how can we know we're getting high-quality flowers?
Lee: An arrangement should last about four to five days, but some tricks to make them last longer include using sugar and aspirin. Tropical flowers will last twice as long as spring flowers, up to two to three weeks longer.
Bailey: Flowers are living beings. It's important to always cut the stems at an angle. I’m old-school, and I don’t believe in chemicals. Make sure you change the water daily. Flowers do not like to be in a warm environment unless you want them to open quickly. Make sure there's a comfortable room temperature if you want them to open slowly, but changing the water daily is my best advice.
Tabis: If received upon delivery and well cared for, flowers can last weeks. If your flower is a couple weeks old when received, it's going to be tough to get much life out of it beyond a few days. The best way to know you're getting freshness and quality is to know where your flowers come from. We trust top-tier farms to provide only Grade A, sustainably farmed flowers. Yes, there's a grading system. No, a B isn't a passing grade.
Is ordering online something to be concerned about as opposed to visiting your local florist and ordering direct from them?
Bailey: Online or at a florist shop, the most important thing to consider is timing -- many places sell flowers after they’ve matured and are completely open. That means that they might last only another day. If you're doing it yourself, my strongest advice is that if you’re not delivering the arrangement that day, don't buy flowers that are completely open; they will die shortly thereafter.
Lee: If you order online, you won't be able to see exactly what you’re getting. Using BloomNation, you'll receive a "BloomSnap" photo of your arrangement before it's delivered so you can see what you're getting. Working with a local florist, you can ask what flowers are in bloom and what are the best flowers depending on time of year.
Tabis: I think it's more about the brand/owner and what they stand for than the method of ordering. There are amazing florists and online sources that provide top-quality flowers and design, and there are those that cut corners. Ordering online can be convenient, reliable and affordable, or it can be cheezified, with low-quality bait-and-switch pricing and spammy emails.
What is the most underappreciated flower?
Bailey: I don’t think there’s an underappreciated flower, but I do think people underestimate their sources of inspiration. My first corporate client was Christies auction house in New York, and I was exposed to the old master floral paintings. By observing these pieces, I learned a lot about composition.
Lee: Carnations because they're inexpensive and have a special shape and style.
Tabis: Lizzies, aka Lisianthus, aka Liz Gots the Biz. These beauties feature a plethora of blooms open when they arrive, and smaller closed buds that keep on opening. The fountain of youth flower, with an amazing scent.
What is your personal favorite flower?
Lee: Peonies – they’re so beautiful.
Tabis: Ranunculus because they are exceedingly unique, and super sexy.
Bailey: Orchids! After 34 years in this business, I always discover a new species. I think they are the sexiest flowers around, and even Mom deserves to feel sexy!