Where to Buy Fresh Flowers: The Ultimate Guide - Inspired by Blooms (2023)

Whether you’re creating your own wedding centerpieces, or simply an arrangement for your home, a question I get asked a lot from people making their own arrangements is where to buy fresh flowers.

There are a lot of different options and each comes with some pros and cons. So, I want to talk a little bit about those to give you a good primer on finding and selecting flowers to work with.

Spoiler alert: I think the flowers you find at a grocery store can be great. In fact, I wrote a whole post on how to transform a grocery store bouquet into your own stunning arrangement.

I personally gravitate toward options that are the most convenient and cost effective. Of course, there are some down sides to that approach which we’ll discuss, but my goal is to enable you to make the very best choice to suit your needs.

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The Grocery Store

It’s impossible to walk through your local grocery store without noticing their floral department. Some stores have a smaller cooler section and some have a much larger section with individual items and pre-made bouquets. Each store is different and sometimes you have to visit a few to decide which have enough selection for what you need.

This can be a very affordable way to get flowers. Stores will have varying selections, but some will carry individual stems or bouquets of flowers with greenery sold separately. They will most often sell pre-made bouquets, where they’ve done all the color and texture selection for you and you’ll just need to work your arranging magic. This is also a super convenient way to pick up flowers. You can grab a bunch while you’re there grabbing groceries.

The thing about grocery stores is that you really are limited to the selections on display. If you’re just starting out or want to throw something together quickly, this may not be a big deal for you. If you’re looking for flowers in the peak of their season, you’re likely to find them here.

Quality can be mixed with flowers from the grocery store. Often they are crammed together in water buckets that might not get changed out as often as is optimal and sometimes they sit on the shelves for longer than they probably should. Make sure to check the bottom of the stems to see if they show signs of aging or mold. If not, you’re good to go.

Just know that these flowers will need a little extra care when you get them home to get them in top shape and they may not last as long as some of the other options below.

If you’re lucky, you may have a Trader Joe’s store nearby. In some cases a Whole Foods or Sprouts market might be similar. But Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to buy flowers and they typically have a much bigger selection to choose from.

Like grocery stores, their prices are very affordable and sometimes, even lower. They typically have many more standalone options in addition to their pre-mixed bouquets which makes it easier to get exactly what you want.

Their great selection is usually because they buy and sell what’s in peak season. Because they follow seasonality closely, the quality tends to be better. You can sometimes run into the same issues as with grocery store options, so make sure to check them for freshness and give them some extra love when you get them home.

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Farmers Market

I love purchasing fresh flowers at the Farmers Market every year. It is absolutely one of the highlights of summertime and I’m sure most of you have seen fresh flower stands at your local market.

The quality of these flowers are great. You’re not going to find a much fresher product, so if cared for properly, these should last a long time.

In addition, supporting local businesses is always a great thing to do. Each of the farmers represented at your local market are earning a living cultivating their craft, so I just think it’s great Karma to support one another if you can.

Just remember, you are at the mercy of nature to see what will show up at each market. Although I like to think of this as a fun challenge that stretches you to create with what you’re able to get.

Farmers Markets are typically only a couple days a week, if that. So, you really need to plan ahead to get what you need. Even then, they are only during certain times of year, so during the off-season, you’ll need to look to a different source.

Local Farm

Can you imagine anything more beautiful than a whole field of flowers basking in their natural glory? This may not be something most people are familiar with unless they have been working in the floral industry or have a well known farm nearby, but it is becoming increasingly popular for these working farms to open their doors to the public.

With a local farm you get a lot of the same benefits as with the farmer’s market. These truly are the freshest flowers you can find anywhere. And again, you have the benefit of supporting local businesses and getting a good inside look at how they do business.

You do lose some of the convenience if you have to drive a distance to get to the farm and some are only open during very specific times. And keep in mind that some farms specifically sell to wholesalers or resellers only, so be sure to call or check them out online before you show up.

Wholesaler

A floral wholesaler is a shop whose primary customers are florists and other floral resellers, and they usually have an extensive selection of florals and materials you might need for floral arranging. They exist to serve the professional florist community, so while they probably won’t be your best option starting out as a hobbyist, I think it’s important to at least know a little bit about them.

They have hundreds of options and you can almost always find the exact item you’re looking for. If you want something out of season, they sometimes have it or can most often get it for you.

They are going to have great quality flowers as well that should be long lasting. Quality is of major concern for these retailers, so you’re going to find that they take great care of their products well.

However, because their business revolves around resellers, they are often not open to the public and only those with special licenses can shop with them. Some may be open to the public on a limited basis, but you will likely have to pay a higher price. You may also have to buy in bulk which is more expensive and might give you way more flowers than you need for a single project.

Online Wholesaler

These days there are several websites from which you can order bulk flowers and have them delivered directly to your door. They have an intuitive ordering platform and I like that you can take your time looking at all the options before you place an order. One option I really like is FiftyFlowers.com.

They have a lot of options and you can really customize your order. They even allow you to sort by your preferred colors or flower type and have lots of sample images for you to browse. They also sell some of the basic materials you might need.

Their flowers are good quality as well. They can arrive needing a little extra care to perk them up and extend their life, but these retailers typically send along all of the instructions you need to take the best care of your flowers and provide great customer service if you have questions about a specific product.

The only drawback is that you typically have to order a large quantity of flowers and that can be more expensive if you’re looking to do a small project. If you’re looking to do a large centerpiece or bouquet, or a few arrangements, then this isn’t much of a downside.

These sites offer pre-made “bundles” in which you get a few types of flowers and greenery, so you don’t have the expense of ordering each piece separately.

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Foraging

The last option I want to talk about it foraging for your materials. This is where you go out in your own garden and look for items to bring into your designs. You can also talk to your neighbors and potentially swap flowers or offer an arrangement to them in exchange for allowing you to take from their garden.

The best benefit of all is that this is free to do. You also get the added element of pride knowing you’re displaying an arrangement of flowers from your own garden.

It can be super helpful to supplement some branches or leaves from your own garden into an arrangement of flowers from the store. It can save money and add additional richness and texture to your design.

You’ll want to make sure you’re harvesting your flowers and foliage correctly to ensure long lasting arrangements. Flowers don’t like to be cut in the heat of the day when they are the most dehydrated. You’ll also want to make sure you have sharp pruners to as not to damage the stem you’re cutting or the rest of the plant. Foraged flowers need to be placed in water almost immediately once cut.

Just a quick, general note about foraging: whatever you do, please make sure you’re doing it ethically and legally. I certainly don’t want to get you into any trouble. When in doubt, look to your own yard, or even your potted plants or herbs, if you have a smaller space for your garden.

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The main point I hope you’ll take away is that there are tons of ways to get your hands on fresh flowers in every budget. There’s no “best” way other than what suits your needs for any given project.

If you’re just starting out or are looking to create an arrangement for a single occasion, I think grocery stores or Trader Joe’s are great, low cost, convenient options. Be sure to check out this post to get started transforming a grocery store bouquet into a beautiful arrangement. If and when you’re ready to tackle a bigger project, an online wholesaler might be exactly what you need.

I hope the next time you’re in the store or at the farmer’s market and you see something that catches your eye, you’re inspired to bring it home and transform it into your own work of art. Whether it’s an assortment of individual stems to arrange, or a pre-made bouquet ready to enjoy, how you choose to display them has endless possibilities.

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