Several months ago, Travis Scott did a nice thing for Kylie Jenner by filling her entire mansion with, like, all of the red roses in the world. The gesture was so incredibly lavish that Cosmopolitan reported, “Travis Scott is basically the most romantic person ever.”
It goes without saying that a regular person — with a regular paycheck — can’t expect to realistically surprise their lover with a similar, Amazon-sized display of roses come Valentine’s Day. That doesn’t mean you can’t also be the most romantic person ever, though: With some advice from floral designer David Goldstein, owner of Beverly Hills Florist, you too can put together a display of roses that will make your partner question your sanity (but, like, in a nice way).
First, though, let’s talk about how roses became the default romantic flower in the first place. “Garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago, probably in China,” as per the University of Illinois. Thousands of years later, during the Roman Empire, aristocrats absolutely fell in love with them, and they would reportedly saturate their bedrooms with rose petals before sex to create a soft, fragrant bed. In fact, according to Roses in the Middle Ages, the Romans may have even loved roses a little too much:
“Not only were there whole fountains of rose water, and not only would the floors sometimes be carpeted knee-deep with rose petals, but guests at banquets would have rose petals thrown over them. At a banquet given by Nero this rain of rose petals reached such proportions that several of the noble guests suffocated under the mass of flowers.”
All of which means, when it comes to romantic gestures involving roses, Travis Scott still needs to work on his game.
Finally, during the Victorian Era, roses really took on the romantic symbolism that we associate with them today. “Proclaiming feelings in public was considered socially taboo, so the Victorians expressed intimacy through flowers,” states 5-Minute History. “Plants sensitive to touch represented chastity, whereas the deep red rose symbolized the potency of romantic love.”
So, that’s how we ended up feeling like we have to shell out for the good stuff come V-Day. How do you pull it off, though, when you’re still eating Top Ramen for most meals? First off, consider American Beauty (or perhaps Coming to America) to be your inspiration, rather than Travis Scott, since Goldstein explains that, when you’re on a budget, buying roses in bulk and decorating with only the petals is a good bet. “You can buy the roses like 10 days before Valentine’s Day,” he says, which will help you avoid those inflated day-before-Valentine’s-Day costs. “The roses will start opening up; they’ll start blooming. When that happens, it’s easier to take the petals off, and they’ll be much bigger.”
Goldstein continues that you probably need at least 24 roses (most varieties have between 20 to 40 petals, so be prepared to buy extras if they seem lacking in that department) to make it seem like you actually put some effort into this gesture. The far more wallet-friendly (and less time-consuming) route, though, is to take his advice that buying rose petals in bulk is much, much cheaper. You can, for example, buy 1,200 petals on Amazon Flowers for only $35; however, Goldstein also explains that you never really know how old the petals are when you buy them in bulk, which means you might end up with a bunch of crinkled, fragrance-free petals, so just beware of that if you decided to take the cheaper route.
When it comes to choosing the right color roses, Goldstein says, red is always a good bet, but you can also opt for your lover’s favorite color. “My best friend loves yellow, and her husband is going to buy her all yellow flowers,” he explains.
As for making a tasteful arrangement out of said petals, Goldstein recommends avoiding any tacky heart-shapes or other blatant lovey-dovey imagery. “Imagine your room, and imagine not just having loose rose petals all over,” he says, adding that the best thing to do is to make some sort of non-elementary school Valentine Card pattern on the floor out of the rose pedals. “When you walk into a hotel, and the hotel has a carpet, those carpets usually have patterns — like a filigree pattern. I want people to create patterns.”
If that sounds like too much work — or if you’re not confident in your floral design skills — Goldstein says you can simply frame the bed with rose petals on the floor — you want enough petals to form a small pile, or to at least hide the floor around the bed. If you have enough left over, you can try to also create a trail of petals that leads up to the bed. But putting them on the bed, he says, is usually a bad idea, since fooling around in a bed of rose petals, despite how pleasant that may sound, can get pretty messy. “The petals will stain the bed sheets,” Goldstein explains. Should you decide that petals on the bed are an absolute must, he mentions that 99 Cents Only Stores sell L.A.’s Totally Awesome All Purpose Concentrated Cleaner, which can easily remove flower stains.
So… who knows? While it’s certainly cliché, if you do it right, Cosmopolitan might even call you the most romantic person ever someday. Or even better, maybe that rose-petal trail will lead directly to a Kardashian.