When you think of flowers–bouquets, table arrangements, potted plants, or even corsages–most people tend to think of a florist before their local supermarket or grocery store. But not only is the supermarket convenient, it can be a great place to score cheap flowers. So with a little advice from my mother-in-law, a former floral department manager in one of our local supermarket chains, here’s what to look for:
If you want your bouquet to make a good impression, select one or two bouquets (or even three, especially if there’s a discount) and ask the floral manager what they can do to spruce it up at no extra charge. At most chain stores, the manager will gladly add some greens and baby’s breath (those tiny white flowers), arrange the flowers in a pleasing way, wrap it up in pretty curled ribbon, add a packet of preservative plant food and sometimes even offer you one of those little floral greeting cards to go with it. It never hurts to ask.
Once you’ve taken your bouquet home, fill a clean vase (preferably glass) with tepid water and the preservative plant food. Some people recommend mixing the water with lemon-lime soda (such as 7-Up, Sprite or Sierra Mist) to add acidity to the water as well as sugar. Before placing your flowers in the vase, cut the stems under water using a sharp knife to cut at a 45 degree angle. Avoid using scissors or pruning shears which can damage the stem.
To make sure your potted flowers last as long as possible, and sometimes your bouquets or table arrangements, select flowers that are just beginning to bud and haven’t bloomed yet. Also make sure potted plants will thrive in the environment for which you’re selecting them…low light, bright sun, etc. If it isn’t marked (usually on a plastic stake in the planter), be sure to ask.
Be cautious about selecting “unnatural” colors. Some flowers, particularly carnations, are dyed to create special colors (like green for Saint Patrick’s Day). While the color may be desirable for a special holiday, these flowers tend not to last as long.
In warm weather/climates, check the inventory both outdoors and inside to find the best flowers.
Finally, as always, be sure to check your circular and use your reward card for discounts in the floral department.