How to Choose Long-Lasting Grocery Store Flowers

May 09, 2020

Long before becoming a florist, I loved making floral arrangements for my friends and family. It was a relaxing hobby and a fun way to show love to those I cared about. I loved personalizing mixed bouquets with my friends’ favorite flowers and colors! Most of time, I picked up my flowers at the grocery store during regular shopping trips, probably like you’ve done. It’s convenient, and the displays are often very eye-catching. What I didn’t know back then, though, was how to choose the healthiest flowers from the many options at my store. That meant that my arrangements wilted too soon, which is not what you want when giving a heartfelt gift. 

Luckily, it isn’t difficult to pick out healthy flowers with just a little knowledge. You can make the same decisions a pro would make with these tips: 

  1. Check the stems. Flowers have evolved their flashy, colorful blooms in order to attract the attention of pollinators like humming birds and bees, and it works on us, too! Our eyes go straight to the pretty blossom part, usually ignoring the green bits as background noise. But to get the healthiest flowers, you need to pick them up and look at the very bottoms of the stems.  That’s what all seasoned florists will do. The bottom of the stem will show you right away how old or damaged the flower is. They should have firm, strong, green stems. Once flowers start to age, or if they’ve been drinking unhealthy water, you will see the tips of the stems start to brown. Basically, you can judge how long the flowers will last by how brown the tip is and how far up the stem the brown goes. Happy stem=happy flower. 
  1. Look for spotting on the leaves. Now your eye can make its way up a little to the leaves. Look for rot or spotting. This can be brown or white, depending on the flower, and usually creates a slimy sort of mush. If you see rot, especially close to the stem, there’s a good chance that rot has moved into the stem. That’s going to prevent that flower from properly drinking in a vase, which means it’ll age faster. If the leaf isn’t slimy or off-color, but has been eaten away by bugs, that’s okay. You do need to worry about stems and blossoms that have been gnawed on, but with that leaf, you can simply pluck it off and the flower will be fine. You probably won’t encounter too many munched leaves on grocery store flowers.  
  1. Inspect for healthy petals. The very last thing to check is the top of the flower. Now you can take a look at those pretty petals! Look inside the flower. Sometimes you’ll see that some of the inner petals have started to rot, especially on roses. This happens often when water has dripped inside and been trapped there, causing it to rot away. It doesn’t look very good, and it means your petals are going to rot much faster than a dry bloom. You should also check petals for any damage they’ve sustained from being squished or bruised. Lilies are especially suspectable to this. The slightest bump will make those petals crease and brown. This isn’t as big of a deal as avoiding rotting stems and leaves, but you do want pretty flowers. That’s why you’re buying them! One trick to use if the flower seems to be in very good shape besides some petal damage, is to pluck off the bruised petals. The flower will be just fine in terms of longevity and will look better. This obviously doesn’t work with flowers like lilies where a missing petal would be really ugly, but can be a great tool for roses and similar blooms.  

 So, the next time you are out shopping for groceries and know that you’re going to pick up some flowers, follow these simple steps so that your beautiful arrangement lives a very long and happy life. 

Learn more about which poisonous flowers to look out for here.

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