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For many of us, flower buying is a gamble.

What kind of flowers to give and how to ensure they stay freshand beautiful as long as possible are burning questions, especiallywhen you know you might be shelling out big bucks. And that theresults could influence your relationship with the recipient – forgood or bad.

Whatever the occasion – birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day,Valentine’s Day or “just because” – you want to make sure you aresending a beautiful floral arrangement.

The experts at 1-800-Flowers.com offer thisadvice:

* Roses are reliable in terms of pleasing the recipient – aslong as the blooms are beautiful and fresh. A variety of roses isavailable, especially if you are ordering online.

* Demand drives cost in the floral world. For special times ofyear, like Valentine’s Day when everyone is giving roses orMother’s Day when carnations are popular, consider giving a mixedbouquet of less costly blooms that aren’t currently in demand. Youcan achieve a beautiful effect for a lower cost than if you give abouquet of the flower of the moment.

* During peak season, consider special offers online for floralarrangements, which is helpful for budget-conscious consumers.1-800-Flowers.com was recently featured on “GoodMorning America” and emerged ahead of competitors fordelivering budget-friendly roses that lasted the longest.

* Instead of splurging on pricey blooms, consider going with anarrangement of more modest flowers presented in a container thatcan be a keepsake for the recipient.

Once your loved one has received her bouquet – whether you haveit delivered or present it yourself – help her keep it alive aslong as possible with these tips:

* Make sure the vase is clean and fill it three-quarters fullwith fresh, cool tap water. Add one packet of flower food.

* Trim 1 inch off the stems. Make diagonal cuts under runningwater and immediately place the flowers in the vase.

* On the third day, re-cut the stems, change the water and add afresh packet of flower food.

* Never place flowers in drafts, direct sun or near excessiveheat or cold.

With a little ingenuity and care, it’s possible to givebreathtaking blooms that will last well after the special occasionis over.