The Golden Rule Florists Swear By to Pick the Best Grocery Store Flowers Every Time

published Apr 7, 2024
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

There’s nothing like coming home to fresh flowers. Seeing a colorful burst of blooms on my windowsill or kitchen counter is one of my simple pleasures in life, but I’d be lying if I said buying bouquets every week wasn’t a costly hobby. Even though I buy my buds for cheap from local grocery stores, it still tends to make a dent in my weekly spending budget.

While I’ve tried all the tricks in the book to keep my flowers from prematurely wilting, I’ve yet to find a hard-and-fast rule for choosing the perfect grocery store flowers. That is, until I tapped Alison Fleck, founder and CEO of Bloom Culture, a DIY wedding flower website, to learn how to properly pick long-lasting flowers. Read on to learn more about the one surprising tip that’ll keep your grocery store flowers fresher for longer.

The Golden Rule for Picking Out the Perfect Grocery Store Flowers Is . . .

Believe it or not, the key to picking out the longest-lasting flowers at a grocery store is choosing the cheap ones. Yes, you read that right! “Specific varieties of flowers that tend to have a longer vase life are roses, alstroemeria, carnations, and chrysanthemums,” Fleck says. “These are usually lower-price-point flowers and give you a good bang for your buck.” That’s also because the pricier flowers are usually more delicate, which means they’re bound to have a shorter vase life since they’re not as durable. “Different varieties of flowers require different amounts of hydration and can be more fickle when it comes to varying temperatures, so sticking with a more hardy variety will ensure a longer vase life,” she adds.

Although the dainty blooms like tulips, anemones, daffodils, freesias, and sweet peas are always tempting, their vase life is typically anywhere from three to seven days, whereas carnations, chrysanthemums, orchids, roses, and sunflowers tend to have impressive vase lives, lasting around two to three weeks with proper care.

The Best Way to Care for Grocery Store Flowers

One of the key ways to prolong the life of flowers after bringing them home is to process them. “Processing flowers is just a fancy term for cleaning them and conditioning them,” Fleck explains. “You will need to unpackage them gently, take off all the excess leaves, and clean up the outer petals of the bloom if they need it.” 

Once you’ve done that, cut them at a 45-degree angle about a quarter of an inch up the stem. From there, place them in a batch of fresh, cool water and add a packet of flower food (which you can make yourself!). For best results, Fleck notes to keep the stems clean by giving them a fresh cut every other day. Also, be sure to change out the water every day or two to ensure the blooms aren’t soaking in bacteria. 

As for a pro tip, see if the grocery store will give you an additional packet of flower food. If they do, add it to your flowers after you change the water. This will keep them fresher longer.

How Can You Tell if Grocery Store Flowers Are Fresh?

No matter how hard you might try to keep your flowers alive (good on you!), there’s going to be a day where they’re too far gone. But, fear not, because there are a few things you can do to ensure you get the freshest bunch every time (aside from checking the price tag!). 

“The No. 1 thing to look at when it comes to flower freshness are the petals,” Fleck says. “If they are firm and vibrant, this is a good sign they are fresh.” To see if they are firm, gently touch them with your fingers, but be careful not to bruise them. Then, check the stems. Smell them to make sure they don’t have a funky odor and feel them to make sure they’re not slimy. If they pass these tests, they’re good to take home — and they’ll last a lot longer than you might have expected!

Buy: FloraLife Cut Flower Food Packets, $11.99