Roses Are Dead, Violets Are Too: Here’s a Better Way to Bouquet
There are more creative ways to say it with flowers—use this guide to design the perfect bespoke bouquet for the flower lover in your life
Roses are rad, but admit it: they’re a little on the nose for Valentine’s Day and anniversaries, and we know you can do better.* (Not to mention the fact that those basic-looking long-stem red roses have to travel a long way to make it to Western markets in the dead of winter.) Want to build a unique bouquet that speaks directly to your true love’s heart? Pick your Valentine’s overall aesthetic and their favorite colors, and then take the flower list to your local florist, hit the flower section of a better-stocked grocery store or farmer’s market (or go for a wildflower foray), and DIY. Pad the bouquet out with greenery (ferns and grasses are universal), and don’t forget the handwritten note to ensure maximum heart-meltage.
The Look: Classic / Romantic
Romance isn’t dead—but it’s definitely ready for a redux. Choose from these billowy blossoms for a classic bouquet that’s anything but dowdy.
Red / Pink
Choose camellias, peony, ranunculus, and sweet peas for a gorgeous and sweet-smelling bouquet. Add forced fruit tree branches (like cherry and apple) for structure.
White / Cream
Tulips, stock, ranunculus, alstroemeria, lilies—evoking gauzy curtains and gossamer clouds, white flowers are almost automatically romantic. Accent with pussy willow branches for a charmingly rustic look.
This time of year, you can fill a vase from the garden—daffodils and forsythia are among the earliest to bloom. Pad them out with ranunculus, chrysanthemum, and tulips from the florist.
Iris, scabiosa, lisianthus, larkspur, and sweet pea all glow like poetry in a vase with ranunculus and old roses.
Dark tulips, nasturtiums, chocolate lace, and hellebore will all go straight to your emo goth’s heart. Nicotiana and slightly spiny nigella pods add a little textural contrast.
The Look: Boho Chic / Witchy
These slow florals are all dreamy, beachy vibes with a funky edge that work equally well with desert motifs. Branches of eucalyptus and bay add fragrance and provide a draping visual effect.
Red / Pink
Chrysanthemum, protea, poppy, and cock’s comb—any of these (or all of them) effortlessly come together for a bouquet that will take your love’s breath away.
White / Cream
Nigella pods, spider mums, nasturtium—even cotton blossoms—can all work together to make a dreamscape of a bouquet. Here, the black centers on the anemone pops and the white protea looks almost downy.
Orange / Yellow / Peach
Sweet peas, feverfew, and ranunculus are all this bouquet really needs. Sunflower, yarrow, billy balls, and witch hazel are also sure to put a smile on your Valentine’s face.
Blue / Purple
Echeveria, eryngium, and anemones all work beautifully together; add lavender and draping eucalyptus branches for fragrance.
Black / Brown
Chocolate cosmos, pincushion plant, amaranth, fiddleheads, and agonis are all incredible together—a bit moody, yes, but not too somber.
Bonus: Not Even a Flower!
If your true love leans towards hedgewitchery, why not give them a resurrection flower (Selaginella lepidophylla)? According to Omen Vintage owner Stephanie Sage, these Chihuahua Desert natives bring prosperity and wealth into the home, and the soaking water can be used in love spells. Her kits come with one resurrection flower (they’re actually a type of spikemoss, which is adorably metal), a steel bowl, and a teeny spritz bottle for imbuing your Valentine’s home with the plant’s bathwater love-mist.
The Look: Tropicalia
Versatile anthurium, heliconia, calla lilies, and cone ginger are your friends here, and feel free to lean on Monstera, banana leaves, and Alocasia for greenery. It’s all about height and big shapes.
Red / Orange
Since so many tropical flowers are bright red and orange, there are tons of gorgeous choices: anthurium, hibiscus, ginger, and protea will all bring the fire, and you can always some orchids for good measure.
Pink / Peach
Again, anthurium steals the show, but cone ginger and birds of paradise would be solid contenders as well.
Orange / Yellow
Indonesian wax ginger, birds of paradise, and a bodacious heliconia bring instant aloha to your lover’s heart.
Blue / Purple
Blue and purple flowers are far less common in tropicals than red, orange, and hot pink, but you can find the cool shades in many hibiscus, orchids, lily-of-the-Nile, calla, and ti leaf. (And also, of course anthurium!)
Black / Brown
Calla lily, lotus pods, fiddleheads, and cymbidium orchids would also be more than suitable here, but we just can’t get enough of anthuriums.
*Ok, if you come from the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of bouquet selection (or your Valentine truly loves roses), at least let them be blousy, fragrant, and utterly ridiculous. Heirloom varieties, as well as cupped, pompom, and very full types will carry the day (see David Austin Roses).