Make a Cheap Grocery Store Bouquet Look Like a Million Bucks

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Unless your evening commute involves a detour through the Flower District, the easiest way to get a bouquet on your table by dinnertime is to hit the grocery store. Most places offer a decent selection of roses (and maybe tulips if they’re in season), but you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck from mixed bouquets, which run $5 to $10. The question is: How to transform your budget flowers into a brag-worthy bouquet?

To figure it out, we enlisted Nikelle Orellana-Reyes and Hannah Ross Clarke, the owners of Wylde, a floral shop in Raleigh’s hip warehouse district. The shop is known for its artful, organic arrangements — very different from the plastic-wrapped bouquet from Food Lion that I brought in to the studio (featured flower: daisies that had been spray-painted orange). But they gamely took it from me and got to work.

“First of all, the one thing we would never do is just take a bouquet and plop it straight into a vase,” says Clarke. “You want to think of arranging a bouquet so it looks like it would in nature, where flowers bloom at different levels and move in different directions.”

The basic premise: Pick the flower that’s your favorite and build the bouquet around it, letting the other flowers support it. When you can, group like colors together and try to accentuate different levels, curves, and outward motion in the arrangement to mimic the way flowers bloom in groups and spread out to get the sun. Here’s their step-by-step on how to artfully arrange a grocery store bouquet.

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Add water: Fill your vase ¾ of the way with water. The ideal vase is about half the size of your final bouquet. “If the flowers are any higher, the balance is off,” says Orellana-Reyes. (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How To Arrange a $6 Grocery Store Bouquet

What You Need

  • Vase
  • Water
  • Bouquet of flowers
  • Shears or sharp scissors


  1. Add water: Fill your vase 3/4 of the way with water. The ideal vase is about half the size of your final bouquet. “If the flowers are any higher, the balance is off,” says Orellana-Reyes.
  2. Separate the flowers: Open up the bouquet and lay out the flowers. “You want to see what you’re working with and figure out how many ingredients you have for your vase,” says Clarke. Inspect the flowers to decide which ones will be your stars (bigger, prettier flowers) and which will be more like fillers or “carpeting” (smaller, fluffier bunches).
  3. Trim the leaves off of the stems: Any leaves that sit below the water line of the vase will rot and make your flowers go bad faster. “You want the stems almost bare, because even the tiniest carnation leaves will rot,” says Orellana-Reyes.
  4. Check the petals: Remove any damaged or moldy pieces, like the outer petals on roses.
  5. Trim the stems: Cut all the stems at an angle. This will help them absorb water better.
  6. Build a base: Start filling your vase with the foundational flowers — the fuller ones that take up more space. If they are in tight bunches, cut off the sprigs to arrange them at different levels. “Creating this carpeting will help your showstopper flowers stay in place,” says Clarke.
  7. Keep building: Once you’ve got these flowers in place, start adding the larger flowers. Group them loosely by color and trim the stems as you place them so the blooms hit at different levels. If you can, choose a flower with a curved stem to angle out of the arrangement, press down the stems of hardier flowers like carnations to give them a little more “movement.”
  8. Add the final touches: Add your showstopper flower near-to-last, then fill in any blank spots with remaining filler flowers.
  9. Put it on display: Your bouquet will have a “presentation side” where it looks best, but you want it to be full all around.
(Image credit: The Kitchn)