Fresh flowers are a wonderful gift. But choosing them can be a confusing exercise– unless you know the tricks of the trade.
Getting the freshest flowers for the best price begins with knowing how to spot stale flowers. After purchase, fresh flowers should stay in peak condition for a week or longer.
For fragile blossoms, temperature swings are deadly. Blooms left should be kept at 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit, according to this article reprinted from Florists’ Review magazine. Blooms left unrefrigerated at any point along the journey from field to store will result in a shorter life, wasted money and disappointment when the flowers quickly wilt.
Inspect blooms carefully and don’t buy in these circumstances:
- The flowers are unrefrigerated or in water that’s not icy cold.
- There is heavy condensation on the blooms or wrapper.
- The flowers show spots of grey mold.
- The blossoms are mostly open. Few of the buds should be open, and most should be mature buds just about to bloom.
- The flowers’ foliage is slightly yellow or brown, instead of bright green.
- Buds or petals fall easily from the stems.
Following are eight tips to get the most for your money when shopping for flowers:
1. Buy less-popular blooms, and skip fancy arrangements
Avoid roses on Valentine’s Day. Instead, choose unusual, less costly flowers.
Also, skip arrangements and vases. Even florists and some online retailers will sell you a bouquet of cut flowers with no vase. They are much cheaper and just as nice.
2. Use a higher-end grocery store
Better stores have floral departments that focus on quality but at lower prices than florists. I recently ordered 20 (closed) white tulips and greenery for a niece in another city at a higher-end grocery chain there. My niece’s mom picked them up from the store. Wrapped in handsome paper and tied with ribbon, the elegant bouquet cost $21.56, including tax.
3. Find coupons and codes, and do your own delivery
Also, deliver the flowers in person. You’ll save money on delivery costs, and it’s more fun to see the look on the recipient’s face.
4. Make sure you know all costs before ordering
When shopping with an online florist, insist on learning the entire price before you begin ordering, even if that means phoning the company to ask. Some online florists withhold the total price until the end of the order, adding shipping or “handling” fees that turn a bargain into a major expenditure.
5. Don’t pay shipping fees
Shipping adds enormously to flower delivery. Find free shipping by searching online for “free shipping flowers.” Or get free two-day shipping with a free ShopRunner membership, available through American Express. Also, ShopRunner offers a 30-day free trial. Paid membership costs $79 a year.
6. Ask a florist for help
Tell the florist your budget at the outset and ask for help getting the best bouquet possible. Florists usually love the challenge of creating a beautiful bouquet, even on a budget.
7. Beware scammers
You might run into online ads from scammers posing as local florists. They charge hefty fees and might or might not place your order with the florist. It’s best to be sure you have the website or phone number for the legitimate florist before sharing payment information.
8. Shop around for the best prices
It’s hard to know where to shop. Here’s a rundown of several sources:
- Big-box stores: Supermarkets, big-box retailers and warehouse chains like Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club and Walmart often sell flowers cheaper than what you would pay at a florist. Selection is limited, however, and it’s difficult to check on quality. Ask if the flowers you are buying have been refrigerated consistently since they were picked.
- Grocery stores: Grocery store flowers tend to be slightly more expensive than flowers at big-box competitors. There’s a wide range of prices, so shop around. Selection is limited, though. As always, inspect flowers closely for freshness.
- Street vendors: You might be tempted to buy a cheap bouquet from a street-corner vendor. But it’s a risky purchase. Unrefrigerated flowers are not likely to hold up well.
- Florists, online and in-town: Online or in your town, florists offer cut flowers, flower arrangements and delivery services. The prices are higher, but the quality is likely to be better.
- Fair-trade flowers: To ensure that the flowers you send are grown without chemicals and harvested by people paid a living wage, use OneWorldFlowers, which purchases from Fair-Trade Certified farms in Ecuador.
What is your favorite type of flower or bouquet? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.