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Flowers are amongst the most popular gift. Whether it's Christmas, Valentine's Day or Easter, a wedding, funeral, anniversary, birth or hospital visit, flowers for your home, a dinner party or for the office, flower sales each year are worth over £2 million in the UK. That's more than the music industry. In America, the figure tops a staggering $8.5+ billion. But there are flowers … and flowers. Here's a quick guide to choosing the perfect flower for different occasions.

1.    For every occasion. Cut flowers should last as long as possible without wilting, smelling or losing all their petals. The longest lasting varieties tend to be the tropical flowers, which can be absolutely stunning. Have a look at orchids, bird of paradise flowers, hibiscus, Asiatic lilies and orchids – since all of these can last well over a month with good care. The humble carnation should last a good fortnight.

2.    Don't create work. Some hostesses or hosts actually find it a bit of a hassle to be given a bunch of flowers when they are having people round for dinner or a party. After all, they don't want to be stuck in the kitchen, scrabbling round for a vase, removing all that messy cellophane, cutting stems and removing leaves, then arranging your gift. So, you could offer to do this for them, or choose an arrangement that is already cut, arranged and in a vase or water filled and decorative cellophane. This is also a good idea for new mothers and for hospital visits.

3.    For a birthday: look into the birth flower for each month or star sign. This shows you've put some thought and effort into your selection. January's flowers are snowdrops or carnations. For February birthday girls or boys, choose primroses or violets. March? Daffodils. April brings daisies, sweet peas and peonies, so offers lots of choice. May's flower is the lily of the valley. June's is the eponymous rose.

4.    July's birthday flower is larkspur, while August can be a gladiolus or poppy. September – asters, forget-me-nots or morning glory. October – marigolds, hops or calendula. November brings the chrysanthemum and finally, December babies can have narcissus and the Christmas favourite: holly.

5.    Speak the language of flowers. Another way to show you really care is to look into the meaning of different flowers. For the less obvious ones, it may be a nice touch to write the meaning on a gift card. Red roses are for love; white lilies for funerals. Birth is celebrated by dittany and oregano. Geraniums and and scarlet show comfort and compassion.

Roses can be used for congratulations too, particularly peach or coral ones. Departure is symbolised by sweet peas, so perfect for someone moving house or job. Pink or yellow roses signify friendship, as does ivy and acacia. You can wish someone good luck with white heather. Marigolds mean grief, cardinals for good health. Snowdrops mean hope. With over 600 flower meanings, some negative, its wise to choose carefully.

6.    Give the personal touch. More than birthday flowers or meanings, considering the person who will receive these flowers is perhaps the most important thing. Think about what flowers they like or, if you don't know them that well, what flowers they have in their garden, office or home. Their favourite colours … even their hair colour, décor and taste in clothes. The plants may not even be to your taste, but that doesn't matter. It's the fact that you are thoughtful enough to take into account their preferences. Long gone are they days of just grabbing a discount bunch from the petrol station!

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