5 Tips to Get Grocery Store Flowers to Last Longer, According to an Expert at Trader Joe’s

published Apr 14, 2022
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Credit: Kristi Blokhin

There’s no denying the power of fresh flowers. Studies have found that they can lower stress levels, anxiety, feelings of fatigue, and more. Plus, they’re nice to look at and can fill your space with a sweet or citrusy scent. So it makes sense that we’d all want these precious buds to stay fresh for as long as possible.

And that’s is where our favorite podcast comes in. ​​In the latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, hosts Tara Miller and Matt Sloan spoke with several employees about their favorite grocery store hacks (think: Mandarin Orange Chicken burritos and chocolate chip cookie muffins). Among the gems, we heard some delightful plant-based tidbits from Maggie, the grocer’s category manager for flowers and plants. (Fun fact: Grocery store flowers are some the freshest and most affordable flowers around.)

These are the best tips Maggie had to share. Follow her advice and your flowers will last much longer.

1. Keep foliage above the water line.

Only half joking, Maggie says that whenever she sees foliage in the vase water, her body cringes and she tenses up. The foliage that’s still on the stem and submerged under the water creates “this perfect breeding ground of bacteria” and, as she explains, takes days off of the flower’s vase life. “The best thing you can do for your flowers is to clean the foliage off the stem, give them a fresh cut, and put them in fresh water every one to two days.” (She wanted to say one, but admitted that’s asking a lot of people.) 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Cut and smash the stems.

Fresh from a trip to Ecuador and Columbia, where she spoke with a rose breeder about this very topic. Shorter steams equal longer life. “The less of a distance the water has to travel to the head, the more direct shot it has towards the head,” says Maggie. This way, the head gets more energy and will open up and last longer. She also recommends smashing the bottoms of woody stems (this opens the pores and allows the branch to take up water).

3. Soak hydrangeas in a bowl of water. 

When Maggie used to do event work, she’d put the hydrangeas in the bathtub, fill the bathtub with cold water, submerge all of the heads, put weights on top of them and let them soak for four to six hours. “If you think about a hydrangea head and how many blooms are on top of a hydrangea, it’s a lot of work for flowers to get the water to all those blooms.” Soak them in a bowl of water and then cut them for your vase.

4. Keep new tulips in their wrappers for a few hours.

If you’ve ever had droopy tulips, this tip from Maggie is for you. After you bring your flowers home, you’ll want to leave them in the sleeve (the plastic wrapper) for around three hours, even after you cut them and put them in a vase. This allows the heads of the flowers to remain upright while they hydrate and, as Maggie puts it, “harden up” and open. This same is true for daffodils, she adds.

5. Water orchids with ice cubes.

Have you heard about this water-orchids-with-ice-cubes tip? Well, this tip about ice cubes is not only proven, but potentially life saving. “The number-one cause of people losing orchids is overwatering,” says Maggie. Of course, there was a study done about this, and the benefit of putting an ice cube (aka the correct amount of water) outweighed the potential damage that cold ice could cause to the roots. She notes, you could also use a shot glass to water them!

Are you a grocery store florist with a tip? Tell us in the comments below.