I have never regretted buying someone flowers. I don’t do it often, but based on the reactions I’ve received, I definitely should do it more. Flowers seem to be almost universally mood-lifting. My paternal grandfather, in the last years of his long life didn’t perk up at the sight of much, especially after the death of my grandmother (his wife of 68 years). But, as a lifelong gardener, nothing tickled him more than having something blooming in front of him (well, something blooming and a plate of my mother’s Christmas baking! The family sweet tooth runs deep.)
When we were going through a rough patch at work, and my young colleague was struggling to maintain a smile, I ran out at lunch one day and picked up a few cheery blooms, quickly arranged them in a drinking glass and popped them on her desk. Not only did they make her smile and remember that she wasn’t in the battle alone that day, they did so every day for the next two weeks and earned innumerable comments and compliments from others in the office for more than two weeks. They all wanted to know what made those flowers last so well.
Did I head to a florist for those flowers? No. I went to the cheapest grocery store in the area and was careful about what I purchased.
Here are my secrets for saving money when you buy cut flowers:
1. Don’t get hung up on where you shop. The minute you take those flowers out of the plastic wrapping no one can tell whether you went to the fancy florist or the discount grocer. Grocery stores are my one of my favourite places to buy cut flowers—they’re everywhere and their prices, especially at the frill free or basic level stores, are usually excellent.
2. Make sure the flowers you’re buying are fresh. Ideally, you want blooms that are in the early stages of opening. Look for:
* No browning on the edges of the petals. Browning means the flowers are on the decline.
* Petals that are full of moisture and holding their shape. They should be stiff, not limp.
* For flowers like roses, the petals should be hugging the inside of the flower. Once they loosen and start to pull away from the centre they’re generally one step away from being done. If you see a rose in this stage it’s said to be ‘overblown’ (like it has bloomed, or blown, past the finish line).
I’ve seen overblown flowers for sale at florists as well as grocery stores. Florists are more likely to have fresher flowers (because they’re professionals and because of the volume of sales), but grocery stores replenish their stock regularly—flowers just off the truck at the grocery store are just as fresh as those just off the truck at the florist. Examine any flowers you’re considering purchasing carefully for freshness.
3. Buy what lasts. Certain flowers last longer than others when cut. This list isn’t exhaustive, but:
* Carnations and any kind of mum (daisy-like flowers) will last quite a long time.
* Roses and peonies, although beautiful, are not the longest lasting blooms.
* Orchids, while quite expensive relative to other cut flowers, will last a long time.
If you just love roses, then buy them and enjoy them. But if you’re looking for an arrangement with staying power, fill it with carnations and mums. Or select an arrangement featuring a mix of flowers and replace the shorter-lived flowers part way through, when they begin to fade. If you’re not sure whether the flowers you’re looking at will last or not, ask someone who looks like they might know.
4. Avoid flower clichés. If the object of your affection believes that his or her Valentine’s day will not be complete without a dozen long stemmed red roses, there’s not going to be any getting around it –you’re going to need to spend the money to buy roses. And you will be spending money because the price of red roses actually increase around Valentine’s day. Yes, the price of flowers does fluctuate according to the season.
But if the recipient of your flowers can see beyond the marketing they’ll know that other flowers are just as, if not more, lovely than red roses. Then you can shop against the trends and pay a reasonable price.
5. Grow your own or grow some of your own. Depending on your climate and the season in which you’re buying flowers, growing your own flowers, is a wonderful way to have the beauty of cut flowers at a low cost. The hydrangeas from your own garden are just as beautiful as those from the florist. In my climate, a packet of easy to grow zinnia seeds is less than $2 and can yield many bouquets from late July until October. Sometimes, if I’m pulling together a gift of flowers for someone else, I’ll combine flowers and greenery from my garden with cut roses I purchased elsewhere. At Christmas I mix purchased flowers with snippings from the cedars in my back yard to create a festive centerpiece that is also frugal.
So go ahead and make someone’s day by buying them some flowers! You don’t have to break the bank to do it.
Who are you going to buy flowers for today?