How to Pick the Best Grocery Store Flowers

A professional florist shares her best tips for choosing healthy, long-lasting flowers, as well as the easiest trick for keeping blooms perky.

A fresh bouquet of blooms is an easy way to brighten one’s day and home. (We mean it—flowers can actually improve emotional health!)

While shopping at a florist is ideal for a special occasion, you don’t need to sacrifice quality by picking up an inexpensive bouquet at the grocery store. We’ve all been disappointed by flowers that droop in a matter of hours, so we sought out an expert. Vanessa Nkwocha, floral designer at Everbloom Floral & Gift in Omaha, Nebraska shares her professional tips on how to pick the best grocery store flowers.

Psst! We love these grocery-shopping tips.

What Types of Flowers Last the Longest?

Seasonality is critical to longevity, so how long flowers last will vary by season and region. In general, Nkwocha loves mums, carnations and alstromeria, which she calls “hardier, go-the-distance flowers.” For best results, get to know your local floral department so you can be there for the freshest available flowers. Act like an insider, too, and learn which day the blooms get stocked.

Additionally, if you can, buy American Grown Flowers, which are easily distinguished with a certified seal. Flowers from local farms have the advantage of more recent harvesting, and haven’t endured a long trip. Since most flowers sold in the United States are grown outside the country, this movement is also a meaningful way to support local farmers.

How Can You Tell Which Flowers Are the Freshest?

Beautiful colorful mix of flowers in a bouquet with Aster, carnation and roselaimdota/Getty Images

Nkwocha recommends observing several visual cues. Pay attention to critical indicators like foliage under the waterline or any stem and leaf sliminess. “If stems below the waterline are free from foliage, you’re likely getting a product that’s been better cared for,” says the floral designer.

Look for fresh, vibrant green leaves and stems, and be wary of yellow, black or brown. Inspect the backside of blooms and the outermost petals, which will “raisin” (i.e. get brown and wrinkly) first.

Buying a rose? “A gentle squeeze to the head of a rose should [indicate] freshness; it should be firm,” advises Nkwocha.

How Can You Help Your Flowers Last Longer at Home?

Traditional advice usually recommends various additives to the vase water, such as floral food packets, pennies or aspirin, to name a few. Nkwocha swears by a more straightforward approach: topping vases off with fresh water every day. If possible, fully replace the water (which is easy to do with this Amaranth vase), though topping off is the next best thing.

She also suggests trimming the stems every other day, which will enable the flowers to rehydrate. You should also keep flowers away from extreme temperatures, such as near open doors, windows or vents, and don’t place them in direct sunlight.

Bonus Money-Saving Tip

Foliage and greenery give the most bang for your buck. Nkwocha suggests visiting the produce section. “[Herbs] add a lot of visual real estate at a pretty low investment.” Display herbs on their own (woody, evergreen rosemary is a favorite long-lasting option), or disperse leafy herbs among your flower bouquet (mint makes a fun addition). Or try our favorite affordable flower arranging tips.

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Katy Spratte Joyce
Katy is a freelance food, travel , and business writer who splits her time between her Minnesotan homeland and her new base in Omaha, Nebraska. Besides Eating Well, she has written for Thrillist, Eater Twin Cities, Chilled Magazine, ROVA Magazine, Travel Awaits, Popular Science, Crunchbase News, Omaha Magazine, and many more print and digital publications.