FLOWERS SHOULD BE ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE
Gifting and receiving a fresh bouquet of blooms is a great feeling! Studies have proven that the presence of flowers has immediate and long term positive outcomes on mood, memory and intimacy, so naturally there are a LOT of flower-lovers out there!
But any floral professional will advise you that flowers are not cheap. Every designer and florist prices their work differently in accordance to their experience, expenses and what their local market can bear...and that's OK. That's business. So while not all volumes and varieties should be available on all budgets (as that undermines the art and business of fine floristry and the flower-growing industry) it is still possible for a lover of flowers to purchase a simple, convenient and inexpensive bunch of blooms.
Now unless your errand route allows for it, most floral shops or farmer's markets won't meet all of these criteria. But which venue usually does?
Why are Grocery Store Blooms Cheaper?
Let me preface by saying that there is no shame in buying flowers from a grocery store. Of course I'd love to see you buy from a flower shop, farmer's market or me, there is no denying that supermarket blooms are convenient, they are often locally grown, and they can be very pretty. They are also cost-effective and can therefore be a more manageable way to bring blooms into your life and home regularly. But why are grocery store bouquets usually cheaper than their flower-shop counterparts? There can be several reasons:
Of course this is not true of every grocery retailer, so don't paint them all with the same brush and cease purchasing their flowers. Instead, buy confidently after using these 6 tips for healthy bloom assessment!
HERE'S HOW TO PICK 'EM
#1 - Look Around
Probably the most important step is to observe the grocery setting you are in. Is this a designated floral department? Is there an on-site florist? Are there raised/tiered displays of buckets? Are their proper floral coolers? ...Or are there merely sad-looking buckets of blooms beside the check-out line? If it's the latter, it might be best to walk away. Most cut flowers require refrigeration during storage to slow their development (blooming) and suppress bacteria growth in their bucket water. Both ensure a decent vase-life and ultimately a happier customer. In my experience, and neighbourhood, some premium chain retailers are bringing their A-game, but I should mention that smaller neighbourhood food markets with outdoor bucket displays and covered awnings should not be dismissed for lacking coolers. These small corner markets often boast the freshest blooms direct from the farm so don't rule them out immediately. Instead skip to tip #2!
#2 - Bigger Isn't Always Better
There's a spectrum of readiness that you should judge the bouquet on before you pluck it. If it's a mixed bouquet, meaning it is composed of more than one variety of flower, zero in on the focal blooms and ask yourself, "are they big and blown open? Or are the bullets"? This is easy to tell when the bouquet contains varieties like roses or peonies, which should naturally open up over the course of it's vase life. If its are already wide open and marshmallowy when you delicately squeeze... it's old and won't last more than a few days at home. If it's hard as a rock with little to no petal lifting, it was harvested too early and is never going to open up.
#3 - Choose Varieties Wisely
Supermarkets predominantly procure bouquets with blooms that have naturally long vase lives. So varieties like carnations, chrysanthemums, alstroemeria, and hardy greens are very common. So too are varieties that hold their form when they dry, and thus hide their deaths well. These include babies breath, thistle, hypericum berries, and eucalyptus. Supermarkets order within these recipes in part because if they last a long time after purchase, they seem "fresh", which results in happy customers and repeated sales... but it is also because they can tolerate being mishandled. I would recommend upgrading to bouquets with more unique blooms (ex. delphinium, ranunculus, roses, freesia, peonies, tulips etc.) that require more care and show their age (see tip #4) easily. They may not last 10 days, but at least with these you will know they were handled with more attention and actually are fresher!
#4 - Conduct an Inspection
Each variety of flower shows its age differently, but there are some easy ways to determine age and health more generally:
#5 - Buy Locally Grown
Did you know: even in the dead of winter the Ontario flower growing community is busy producing beautiful and unique varieties of flowers in their greenhouses? So assuming that all fresh flowers are imported from warmer climates in the cold season is actually not true. Whenever possible, consider buying local varieties before imported for these three (of many) reasons:
# 6 Stick to Seasonal
Okay, so you're onboard with the "shop local" initiative... but how do you know which blooms those are? Often, grocery store bunches are wrapped in "Pick Ontario" promotional sleeves (see logo above) which certify that the blooms inside were Ontario grown. But when in doubt, think seasonal! Below is a very general list of what to look for -at the grocery store- at different times of the year:
SPRING - Tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, lilac, peonies, pussywillow
SUMMER - Dahlia, amaranthus, sunflowers, asiatic lilies, gladiolus
FALL - Chrysanthemums, ornamental grasses, ornamental kale or cabbage, sunflowers
WINTER - Ranunculus, anemone, amaryllis, evergreens
ALL YEAR ROUND - Alstroemeria, chrysanthemums, gerbera daisies, freesia, spray roses, snapdragons, statice, calla lilies
I would be remiss if I didn't remind you that The Paisley Rose also designs seasonal bouquets which, during the warmer months, feature homegrown blooms from here on our micro flower farm. But I also appreciate that ordering from me isn't always within the cards of convenience. So if the grocery store's bunch is just the ticket, go for it! And enjoy those blooms and their healing properties knowing you picked them with my tips and tricks in mind!
Questions? Leave them in the comments or shoot me a private message!