A Rose by Any Other Name...

A dozen roses can easily set you back as much as $100 this year, and if you haven't already ordered flowers for your sweetheart, you can expect to pay a premium on top of that.

For florists, Valentine’s Day is like Christmas for most other retailers. Fresh flower sales in February, including those traditional long-stemmed roses, make up about 40% of their annual sales. Unlike holiday sales in December, however, flower prices may actually go up as the big day gets closer. A dozen roses can easily set you back as much as $100 this year, and if you haven’t already ordered flowers for your sweetheart, you can expect to pay a premium on top of that.

Florists base their pricing on supply and demand, say industry consultants, and will drop prices on slow sellers in February while raising them on popular bouquets, including the those time-honored roses. This year, the price picture is also clouded by cold weather snap in Colombia, where many out-of-season roses come from. Lower rose-crop yields could lead to tighter supplies, which would translate into even higher prices. You may also have to pay extra for weekend delivery, since Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year.

If you’re looking for ways to save, say consumer gurus, start by asking for delivery during the week before Valentine’s Day. That could cut as much as $15 off the tab. Other tips: You can substitute other blooms, like tulips and carnations, which are in season and therefore cheap, for all or some of the roses in your arrangement. You can also choose another color — red roses are the most expensive, while white or yellow roses can be cheaper. Or, for perhaps a more romantic gift, choose a single long-stemmed rose and spend the rest of your money on dinner at an upscale restaurant.