First Friday DIY: Buying flowers

Flowers are on your grocery list, so on your way to the produce section, you pass by the fresh flower stand.  Neon green and blue daisies.  Pretty sure that's not natural, so you pass over those and see bunches of roses for $19.99.  Too expensive.  The next option might be bouquets of mixed flowers..a lily, a couple roses, daisies, alstromeria (tiger lilies), and some greenery.  That will have to do since it looks fairly fresh and it's around fifteen bucks.  $15 is OK for a mixed flower bunch, but do you really like the mixture?  And I bet you'd love to spend less if you could.

I asked folks on Facebook last week what they'd like to learn in my next DIY post.  Here's a response from my friend Jenny:  

Where can you find fresh flower steals? I love displaying sweet arrangements around the house, but find it to be costly!

So this week, thanks to Jenny, I'm going to tell you all I know about buying fresh flowers and where to get some great "steals".  

My #1 choice for buying flowers is Import Flowers.  It's a wholesale flower shop here in Nashville and they are open to the public.  OPEN TO THE don't need any special forms and you don't have to be a florist to buy from them!!  It can be a bit intimidating walking in for the first time, but you will soon be met by the wonderfully helpful staff, and someone will show you around.  If you are on a budget, you can buy bunches of daisies for under $5.  When tulips are in season, you can choose from a variety of colors for $10.  Roses are sold in 25 stem bunches which end up being just over a dollar a stem (depending on the variety).  It turns out to be cheaper than that dozen at the grocery for $20 and you get more!  Import also has the largest variety of flowers in town.  From every seasonal flower imaginable to tropical flowers, hydrangea, garden roses, and greenery, you can find just about anything you are looking for.  

My #2 choice is Trader Joe's.  When certain flowers are in season, you can't beat the prices.  Tulips, ranunculus, sunflowers, and daisies are always great choices and you can easily spend less than $15.  That should leave some room in your budget for dark chocolate covered almonds, that chocolate bar with caramel and sea salt, or those chocolate covered pretzels with peanut butter inside!!  Yum!  Chocolate and flowers...2 very happy things!   
Fall bouquets from Trader Joe's

#3 choice is Fresh Market or Whole Foods for many of the same reasons as Trader Joe's.  They also have a wonderful assortment of potted orchids if you need to pick up a quick, but lovely gift.  

#4 is my local Kroger grocery store.  If I'm in a pinch, I'll run up the street and buy a bunch of roses, spray roses, or whatever looks fresh.  

Okay, let's talk about how to tell what's fresh.  I'm going to be basic here in order to leave room for future posts!

1.  You want to see healthy-looking foliage on the stems of the flowers.  One of the first things I learned while working at Import Flowers years ago was that if the leaves on the flowers are turning brown or yellow, they are too old to sell.  Most of the time, the bunches will be in a clear cellophane wrap, so don't be afraid to pull it down to check out the stems.  It's kind of like looking for fresh lettuce and greens in the produce want firm, green slime!  

Healthy rose leaves.  

2.  If you are buying roses, look for buds that are firm with smooth petals.  Older roses will feel very loose, like the petals are about to fall off.  The petals will also look wrinkly.  It's OK to see outside petals that are a bit beat-up.  This is a protective layer of petals.  When you arrange your flowers, just pull those off.  As a general rule, most flowers should be firm ...this means they're fresh and fully hydrated.  

Beautiful ivory spray roses.  

3.  If you do decide to buy a mixed bunch of flowers, don't feel like you have to put every single flower in one vase!  If there's one tall flower that doesn't look right in the arrangement, find a bud vase to put it in and stick it by your sink.  

*On a side note...if you'd like to learn more about arranging flowers, get a group of friends together and I'll come show you how to do it!  I've done several DIY flower arranging classes, and it's a blast!  Here's a post from a my friend, Tobi, who co-hosted my first DIY class...check out the pictures!  

4.  If you love daisies and want them to last up to 2 weeks, choose the one's with green centers.  As the daisy ages, the center will turn yellow!  

These centers are somewhere in between...yellow with a bit of green. 

5.  Have fun and don't be afraid to mix it up!  I'm usually drawn to lush, single-flower arrangements with roses and/or hydrangea, but lately I've been playing around with more texture and color.  Choose the flowers you are drawn to, pick out your favorite vase, or several small jars or bud vases, and have fun flowering your house!  

Finished product from a DIY class!