Here's Why Red Roses for Valentine's Day Will Never Go Out of Style

Learn the history behind the romantic tradition, then shop our curated list to find the perfect V-Day flowers.
cathryn haight the knot
by
Cathryn Haight
cathryn haight the knot
Cathryn Haight
Commerce Editor
  • Cathryn is a commerce editor at The Knot, where she focuses on all things gifting and stationery
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Cathryn spent years as a food editor
  • Cathryn holds a bachelor's degree from Trinity College and a certificate in publishing from Columbia University
Updated Jan 23, 2023
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We've all dreamed of experiencing the quintessential Valentine's Day date at some point, beginning with your sweetheart standing at the door with a dozen red roses in hand. But have you ever wondered why red roses for Valentine's Day are so popular? And if they're truly as sought-after as we might think? To get to the root of this romantic tradition, we chatted with petal professional Justin Lievano, Manager of Customer Success at UrbanStems and a passionate former florist. Read on to learn the history and meaning behind red roses, the best etiquette for gifting Valentine's Day bouquets (including Justin's top insider tip) and our very favorite flower delivery services for sending Cupid-approved arrangements.

In this article:

Red Roses for Valentine's Day, Explained

From their origins in Greek myths and the Victorian era to the time-honored special meaning behind their blossoms, these crimson blooms are perhaps the most enduring symbol of romance out there. Here's everything you need to know about why we give red roses on Valentine's Day.

What's the history of red roses on Valentine's Day?

While the notion of a red rose as an icon of love dates back thousands of years (think: appearances alongside Aphrodite in ancient Greek myths), the history of giving red roses on Valentine's Day originated relatively recently in the 19th century. While we aren't at all shy about showcasing our relationships in modern times, the Victorians had to keep things a little more low-key. Romance for them came hand-in-hand with sly smiles, coy flirtations and secret affairs (thanks to conservative societal norms), so suitors had to rely on more creative ways to let the corseted cutie across the ballroom know that they were interested.

Enter: floriography, a secret language of flowers with roots in the Ottoman Empire where the type and color of each bloom has an ascribed meaning. Sending red roses symbolized love, romance and perfection—so it's easy to see why it became the ultimate floral flirtation and top choice for Valentine's Day bouquets. And according to Lievano, they're still the most popular choice for V-Day flowers today, though most senders are embracing a fresher, more modern look with multiple shades of crimson and soft greenery.

Should you buy pink or red roses for your valentine?

While red roses are the most classic choice for a romantic arrangement for your valentine, roses in pink, peach, white and other colors (or even a mix of hues) could make the recipient feel just as loved. "Personally, I think it's best to keep things simple: Choose colors that you know your valentine loves or colors that are tied to special memories, like a color that was in your wedding scheme," says Lievano. "When you march to the beat of your own floral drum, it tells your valentine that the love you share is unique and that they're special to you."

If you're going to mix and match rose colors, you can play around with floriography to try and create a more complex meaning. For example, a blend of pink and red roses would symbolize romance and admiration (big "I love you and I like you" vibes), while a combination of white and red roses would indicate a young, but strong love. But the most important factor to consider when mixing and matching, according to Lievano, is to select shades that are in harmony with each other.

How many roses are you meant to give on V-Day?

When it comes to deciding how many roses you should give your valentine, the choice is truly yours! If you're looking for a classic number, opt for a dozen. "The symbolism of the dozen has to do with the association between 12 and a complete cycle (think 12 months in a year), so a dozen roses speaks to the fullness of love—the way it completes us," says Lievano. But don't feel like you have to go big—a single red rose is symbolic of giving your whole heart to someone. "I tend to shy away from hard and fast answers, like one rose for every year you've been together. There are so many ways to celebrate love that we say, 'trust yourself,'" adds the expert.

When's the best time to give red roses for Valentine's Day?

The best time to send Valentine's Day roses (according to Lievano) is a day early. Here's why: "No one wants to find themselves waiting for flowers with a dinner reservation in 15 minutes, so get in early," he says. "You can include a message like: 'I love you so much that I couldn't wait until tomorrow to celebrate.'" Plus, you're much more likely to get a timely delivery than if you're part of the bouquet brigade set to be delivered on the holiday.

And for an extra-special Valentine's Day touch, Lievano suggests making receiving the arrangement an experience for your sweetie, like sending them to their office as a surprise or presenting them by hand at the start of your special evening.

Where to Order Red Roses for Valentine's Day

Ready to shop for the perfect Valentine's Day gift? Whether you're going for the classic crimson dozen, a mixed bouquet to buck the cliche, or a preserved set of petals that'll last as long as your love, these retailers sell the most stunning red roses that'll surely please your partner. Best of all, you can order them online from the comfort of your couch.

1. UrbanStems

UrbanStems Valentine's Day red rose bouquet

    Come to UrbanStems for their swoon-worthy designs that are equal parts trendy and timeless, stay for their nationwide next-day shipping. (Not to mention they source all of their blooms from sustainable farms.) According to Lievano, vibrant and warm hues are trending for V-Day bouquets, so red roses fit right in. The Valentine bouquet is an ultra-elegant choice, since it balances the bold, all-red roses with wispy eucalyptus leaves, but we also love The Romeo (pictured above and linked below) for a more dramatic vibe. The red roses are complemented with delicate fuschia spray roses and other accent blooms. (And it comes with a scrumptious-smelling coconut reed diffuser, too, so no need to worry about any more shopping to complete the gift.) Get 15% off your bouquet with our exclusive discount code, THEKNOT15.

    2. Rosepops

    Rosepops preserved roses Valentine's Day gift

      The only downside to receiving a bouquet of fresh flowers for Valentine's Day is that they won't last forever. That's why we love these perfectly preserved petals from Rosepops, which stay stunning for a year or longer. For a unique take on Valentine's Day red roses, we love the Cherry Crush flowers in the Lucky 13 arrangement, which is a cheeky answer to the classic dozen roses. You can customize nearly every detail of these floral box bouquets, down to adding a message or photo, too. It's the perfect Valentine's Day gift for showing how enduring your love is. Plus, save 25% off sitewide with our code—use THEKNOT25 at checkout.

      3. Rose Lives Love

      gold dipped red rose valentine's day gift

      If you love the "you have my whole heart" meaning of a single red rose for Valentine's Day, but you want to go a little more luxe, this 24K gold-adorned bloom is your answer. This handmade, lacquered blossom has just the right amount of shine, with gold-edged petals and leaves plus a sparkling, fully dipped stem. We adore the intricate details and the way displaying this unique Valentine's Day gift will add an eye-catching touch to any desk, bookcase or nightstand (no wilting, water-changing or other real-flower maintenance tasks required). Save an extra 10% when you use the code THEKNOT.

      4. Grace Rose Farm

      red and pink rose valentine's day flowers

      Roses are romantic in their own right, but they feel extra sweet coming from Grace Rose Farm, which is run by the cutest rose-farming couple. Made with blooms sourced from sustainable farms, the jewel-toned Julia bouquet is bursting with two dozen heirloom roses with the most sumptuously soft silhouettes. Classic velvety reds are accented with coral and fuchsia to create a color scheme that'll have your recipient's heart skip a beat.

      5. BloomsyBox

      two dozen red roses for valentine's day

      You can't go wrong with any of the seasonal, playful arrangements from BloomsyBox for Valentine's Day, but you'd be missing out if you didn't take full advantage of their high-quality roses, which feature extra-large blossoms and extra-long stems. This bouquet of two dozen vibrant Freedom roses (each of which has nearly 40 silken petals) is sure to make your sweetheart swoon upon opening the box. Plus, they're slow-blooming, too, so your valentine will be able to admire them long after February 14.

      6. The Bouqs Co.

      red pink blush rose valentine's day bouquet

      Velvety red Valentine's Day roses are in good company in this romantic arrangement, which also includes blush and ballet-pink roses. We also adore the peachy hypericum berries and wispy white blossoms that add extra texture for a more organic look. This bouquet is the perfect pick for the romantic in your life (just add a love note). Plus, The Bouqs Co. partners with sustainable farms that minimize waste, recycle water and prioritize their workers, so you can feel really good about gifting these.

      7. H.Bloom

      unique red rose valentine's day bouquet

      Red roses get an extra kiss of crimson color from the addition of funky accent blooms in the Royal in Red bouquet from H.Bloom. The shape of the arrangement is lush without being messy, balancing romantic and contemporary aesthetics. And we'd expect nothing less than florals fit for a monarch from this flower delivery service, which offers super-elegant bouquets thanks to its nationwide network of trusted designers.

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