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Forgot to get a fancy Valentine's bouquet? Fret not! Things can still come up roses

Holley Simmons, owner of the flower shop She Loves Me based in Washington, D.C., displays the grocery store-bought bouquet.
Kelsey Snell
/
NPR
Holley Simmons, owner of the flower shop She Loves Me based in Washington, D.C., displays the grocery store-bought bouquet.

Forgot to order that fancy bouquet in time for Valentine's Day? Fret not! Everything can still come up roses.

Professional florist Holley Simmons says there are many ways to turn a drab set of last-minute store-bought flowers into a thoughtful and vibrant display.

"I look for a unique flower and then start there," Simmons tells NPR's Weekend Edition on a trip to a grocery store in Washington, D.C.

Simmons, who owns a local flower shop She Loves Me, plays guide while walking through the flower displays, pointing out which flowers to grab and which to leave be.

Here are some dos and don'ts Simmons imparted us for grocery store do-it-yourself bouquets this Valentine's Day.

Do: Find a unique flower to anchor the piece

Simmons points out some lilies. "Just to give us some va va voom," she says.

But there's an essential note of caution here.

Don't: Choose flowers that have been sitting in the sun all day

"My florist's eye is going straight to that bucket that's in the sun," Simmons says. "They've been heating up. They've been boiling."

Do: Keep it monochromatic

When all the flowers are the same color, it brings the display to the next level, Simmons explains.

"It just makes it look really lush," she adds, "it automatically creates a really voluminous appearance."

Simmons leaves the store with an assortment of flowers: Lilies, carnations, tulips and roses — along with some green foliage, dusty miller and an orchid.

Do: Trim the stems at an angle

Back at her flower shop, Simmons trims each flower at an angle instead of straight across — a move that helps the flowers take in more water.

Do: Organize your flowers into "spillers, fillers and thrillers."

She then breaks the flowers into different categories: spillers, fillers and thrillers.

"Your spillers are your greens, anything that adds movement," she says.

Arranging spillers first is a good place for newcomers to start, because, Simmons says, it can shape the bouquet.

Next up are the fillers, which add "texture," Simmons says, highlighting her carnations.

The thrillers, which go last, are classified as "the showstoppers," given that they're the brightest and most colorful, she says.

Don't: Leave your flowers looking stiff

Here's where the styling comes in. Simmons starts fluffing the carnations by moving the petals of each flower apart.

"You kind of have to help them express themselves," she says.

Simmons holds up her fluffed carnations, a technique used to give the flowers more dimension.
Kelsey Snell / NPR
/
NPR
Simmons holds up her fluffed carnations, a technique used to give the flowers more dimension.

Then she moves on to spinning roses. Yes, spinning.

"You hold it at the end of the stem with the head facing down, and you just spin it in place," she adds.

But do watch out for those prickly thorns.

Simmons showcases her newly spun roses, another styling technique used to elevate the flower's appearance.
Kelsey Snell / NPR
/
NPR
Simmons showcases her newly spun roses, another styling technique used to elevate the flower's appearance.

Do: Balance your bouquet

After assembling all the spillers, fillers and thrillers, Simmons says it's vital to avoid giving one flower too much of the spotlight.

"People will front-load the design with the most beautiful part of the flower, but we try to flirt with our flowers a little bit," she says.

"Instead of being like, this is the center of the flower, we'll position it to just show the silhouette or show the side of it," she adds.

Don't: Be afraid to change it

Like relationships, sometimes flower displays require some change before you find the perfect fit.

Happy decorating!

Danny Hensel and Melissa Gray produced and edited the audio version of this story.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.