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Flowers for Valentine's? No thanks Add to ...

A friend who is a florist told me this week that I should never buy flowers for Valentine's Day. That's just as well, since my sweetie prefers home-made pecan-laden brownies, but I was intrigued.

Here's why: The flower industry operates on supply and demand. Demand is high -- hence, the price is often triple what you'd pay otherwise. Supply cannot be drummed up overnight (and then cut off the next day, when nobody wants bouquets). Flower growers the world over cannot simply produce thousands of extra flowers for one day.

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So florists end up hoarding flowers for several days to meet demand for that one day. They have no choice: Valentine's Day can bring in as much a third of annual revenue (only Mother's Day is busier, "because everybody has a mother," I am told), and nobody wants to miss the boat.

So, if you are lining up for posies on Monday, you run the risk of getting expensive flowers that may have already passed their best-by date and will wilt swiftly. (Hmm, is this the metaphor you want for your love?)

And if your sweetheart cares about the carbon footprint, consider this: Chances are, those beautiful blooms were not grown in sub-zero Canada, but thousands of kilometres away, and are smothered in pesticides.

One option is eco-friendly flowers at Sierra Flower or Eco Flora.

Another is digital flowers. This website lets your true love watch a unique digital flower blossom in front of their eyes.

And if you must buy flowers and want to avoid the rush on Monday, you can use this Groupon till Friday night for 50 per cent off a $40 bouquet.

If you run out and buy them yourself in advance, remember:

- Don't leave flowers in the car overnight. This is Canada in February: They will freeze.

- Keep them in a vase with warm water and flower food. Before putting flowers into the water, trim the stems with a knife. This gets rid of dried-up ends and helps them absorb the water.

Here's how to reuse them once they get old.

And if you're not buying flowers, here's a list of gifts that you must not, repeat, must not give. Yes, it includes pets and vaccuum cleaners. I'd bake some brownies instead.

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