Whether you’ve run short on time, money or ideas before a big event, if you find yourself in front of a grocery store flower cooler, you’re in very good company. From husbands in the doghouse to friends looking to surprise one another on birthdays, the grocery flower shop is a great place to snag a colorful, memorable present. There’s no shame in ducking the expensive florists’ shop or online options in lieu of a quick bunch of flowers in hand, but making smart choices are the difference between a sad bunch of wilted blooms and a vibrant awards-show-ready bunch. Here’s how to pick the “loves me” from the “loves me not:”
Go for buds, not blooms. It may seem counter-intuitive to reach for a stem of buds and barely-opened flowers over a handful of fully opened ones, but this is a step with the future in mind. Fully opened flowers are on their way out – blooming is an act intended to attract pollinators like bees in the short term, after which the flower will die off to prevent wasting the plant’s resources. Buds, on the other hand, are just beginning their journey into flower-hood, and will continue to be bright and colorful for much longer.
Mix it Up. Sure, there will be some pre-arranged vases, bouquets and so on, but the best bang for your buck is typically the “3 bunches for $X” type of deals. Find a bunch of showy flowers like roses or alstroemeria, a bunch with some greenery such as ferns in it, and a short, bushy flower bunch like baby’s breath or strawflowers to fill in some bulk. If you remember to “SHuFFLe” – SHowy, Ferns/Fronds, FiLler – you’ll be able to pull together a great bunch of flowers no matter where you’re shopping for them.
Keep it Chill. Heat can turn a gorgeous bouquet into a train wreck inside of ten minutes if you aren’t careful. Treat your blossoms the way you would frozen food – don’t leave them in a hot car or by a sunny window, especially not before you’ve had a chance to process them and get them into their finished vase or container. If a brief stint of heat is unavoidable, be sure to get your flowers cut and in water as soon as possible so they can recover.
Once you’ve gotten your flowers home, it’s time to process them into a cohesive display that puts its grocery store roots – pun intended – far behind it.
- Start by unwrapping each bunch of flowers carefully, snipping off any rubber bands that may be on the stems to separate them properly.
- Using the sharpest scissors or knife you can find, slice the last 2-3 inches off of each stem with a diagonal cut. This step is similar to trimming off split ends of human hair – it ensures more nutrients for the healthy part of the stem. The fresh cut also opens up the stem’s pores to absorb water more efficiently.
- Next, gently pull off any leaves that might touch or come below the water line in your container. These leaves will make the water murky and smelly, and will likely reduce the lifespan of your bouquet.
- Once all of your stems have been cut and had excess leaves stripped, place them in your empty container to judge height. Cut off bits of stem to make your bouquet more or less even. If you’re design-impaired, follow the “SHuFFLe” order again – showy flowers should be tallest, ferns and fronds a little bit shorter, and filler the shortest of the three.
- Fill your container with fresh, lukewarm water and, if your bouquets came with plant food packets, follow their directions and add them in. Place your bouquet in your container and voila – a long-lasting, beautiful bouquet for a grocery store price tag.
Want to go all-out? Here are a few expert tips that will help you really knock your bouquet out of the park:
A pinch of seasoning. Fresh herbs, typically found in the produce section of the grocery store, make a fragrant and unexpected addition to a small bouquet. Popular pairings include roses and rosemary, thyme and daisies and basil with a greenery-heavy bunch.
Put a bow on it. Tying a brightly colored ribbon around the neck of your container will make your blooms seem that much fresher and more beautiful.
Perpetual flowers: Add a packet of seeds beneath your container bow or in an accompanying card. This will give your recipient something fun and interactive that will always remind them of you.