My Statistician’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

I’ve written two pieces at FiveThirtyEight that may be of interest to those of you celebrating Valentine’s Day this weekend.  First up:


The Cheapskate’s Guide To Buying Flowers For Valentine’s Day

If you bought your roses on Feb. 10 and took good care of them, you might still have a bouquet to bestow on Feb. 14. (But you’d need a good explanation for why they wilted a day or two later.)

You could eke a little more life out of the roses by keeping them in something other than tap water. In a 2005 paper in the International Journal Of Agriculture & Biology, Shahid Javed Butt of the Hill Fruits Research Station found that placing roses in a sucrose solution (25 grams of sugar per liter of water) extended their life for 2.5 days compared to roses in distilled water. Placing them in a silver nitrate solution (150 ppm) for 24 hours did even better, giving them an extra 3.7 days before wilting, compared to untreated flowers. That might be enough to get you through Valentine’s Day and a little while after. Roses will come to fear your botany powers.

And also:

Your Valentine Is More Interested In Dinner And A Card Than Anything Else

I was once so worried about what kind of Valentine’s Day gift a girl should give a boy that I persuaded a florist to wrap a packet of beef jerky next to a single rose. That went over pretty well, but I figure that can’t be the usual approach, or the florist wouldn’t have been so flabbergasted. So to see what Valentine’s gift people are expecting (or if they’re even expecting a gift) these days, I commissioned a SurveyMonkey Audience poll of 567 men and women in heterosexual relationships,1 to see how they want their partners to express their love.


But, as a general rule of thumb, don’t do anything for Valentine’s Day that you and your partner wouldn’t be genuinely excited to do any other day of the year. Pro forma presents and events are often a case of going to Abilene where no one wants to do the thing, but doesn’t speak up because they assume everyone else is excited.

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