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Roses Again? Pick a More Fitting Valentine’s Day Bouquet

Tired of giving the woman in your life the same batch of roses that every other guy out there is buying? This Valentine’s Day, buy your wife, girlfriend, or fiancée a specialized bouquet of flowers based on what’s she’s like, and what she likes! Here are a list of great flowers that can make romance bloom for you, and reasons why they might be right for her.


Sometimes called daffodils or buttercups, these beautiful flowers look quite like teacups on delicate, plumed saucers. But the origin of the name comes from Greek mythology; it was the name of Narcissus, a self-absorbed young man, was so obsessed with his reflection in a pond that he fell in and drowned, and the flowers bloomed up in his place. When you give this flower to your beloved, you’re saying in no uncertain terms that you are not going to make the same mistake! You’re also keeping company with poets—both E.E. Cummings and William Wordsworth lauded the praises of daffodils. The character Edward Bloom in the movie Big Fish planted a whole field of these flowers to impress his love, but you’ll probably have more success with a bouquet of a dozen or so.


The first mention of these broad, beautiful flowers comes to us from a Sumerian text nearly 5,000 years old. Not only they, but the Persians, Minoans, Egyptians, and Japanese all loved a good lily—which they sometimes used as a healing herb. Lilies were the symbol of Hera, the queen of the Greek gods, and Matthew references them in the New Testament as a symbol of purity. In fact, legend has it that Eve’s tears in Eden caused lilies to spring forth from the ground. If your girlfriend or wife is a history buff, a nurse, a woman of classic moral fiber, or just someone who loves broad, sophisticated flowers that smell intoxicating, get her a half-dozen of these—and make sure all their buds haven’t opened! Lilies bloom even after they’re cut and put in water, and it’s a treat to see some of the late bloomers open up.


According to Greek myth, these flowers arose from the remains of a half-satyr, half-nymph named Orchis after he was hacked into thousands of pieces by followers of Dionysus, the god of wine and romance. That could explain the wine-mottled coloration and sensual shape of many orchids, as well as the thousands of varieties that botanists have discovered—with an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 species, orchids are the world’s most diverse plant family. Give some of these to the woman in your life who likes danger, complexity, or tropical climates, or who simply loves delicate, sexy flowers. And consider giving them as a living potted plant—though stereotyped as a hothouse flower, many orchids are easy to grow in any house.


Traditionally a weed to farmers or a snack at baseball games in the form of its seeds, the hearty sunflower may seem a little too common to make a precious gift. Yet this king of flowers symbolized the sun for the Incas and some varieties have been known to grow over 25 feet tall! If the one you love has let you grow strong, if she’s a ray of sunshine for you, or if she just likes farmers’ markets and John Denver albums, this is the flower for her. That goes double if she’s a fan of The Wizard of Oz—it’s the official flower of the state of Kansas.


These heart-shaped flowers come in shades of pink and purple, making them ideal for Valentine’s Day. And while they’ve been popular in Europe and the Middle East for hundreds of years, they have more recently become associated with America’s settler history. Planted in pioneer gardens to provide a little color in a new and scary wilderness, these flowers eventually kept growing in fields long after log cabins collapsed into the dust. Lilacs are the ideal Valentine’s Day flowers for a woman who loves Little House on the Prairie, who loves pink or purple, or who loves bunches of little, fresh-smelling flowers instead of a few big ones. They’re also good for a brand-new romance—in the language of flowers, purple lilacs symbolize the first emotions of love.


Iris was a messenger goddess for the ancient Greeks, and her namesake flowers were a frequent choice of subject matter for Vincent van Gogh. The stylized white version of this flower, the fleur-de-lis, was a symbol of France, as well as of Brussels, Florence, and Quebec, and later the New Orleans Saints football team and even the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts! Give this flower to the woman in your life who likes mythology, the French language, van Gogh, or selling cookies. And you can definitely find irises in her favorite color—there are over 300 distinct species in a wide range of shades and hues.


Though associated with Holland, tulips first were cultivated by the Persians around 1000 A.D. and the word comes from the same root as “turban”—notice the way their petals look like pieces of cloth intertwined. It was this wrapped-together quality that made tulips the symbol of Calvinism, which considers itself held together by five tenets of faith similar to the five petals of a tulip. Give this flower to the woman who holds your life together, or simply get them because they’re so beautiful! And because they often come in red and smell nice, they’re a great substitute for red roses.

There are so many wonderful flowers out there to give your loved one on Valentine’s Day. What types of flowers have you had success with? Is there a particular flower you love the best?