Nothing says spring quite like a dazzling bouquet of fresh flowers. They’re bright, colorful, and amazingly fragrant—what’s not to love?
However, buying weekly arrangements from a florist certainly isn't in the budget for most of us—which is why we asked Christina Stembel, the founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers, for tips on creating budget-friendly bouquets from store-bought blooms.
Whether you want to create a beautiful centerpiece for your kitchen table or a hand-wrapped bouquet to give as a gift, here are Stembel’s most helpful DIY tips for transforming grocery store flowers into professional arrangements.
First things first: You need to choose your flowers. Stembel recommends selecting a mix of brightly colored and neutral ones for a balanced bouquet.
“Select three different types of flowers in complementary tones or whichever ones are your faves,” she says. “I usually pick one bright color to pair with a couple muted or neutral tones. It’s an easy recipe that’s hard to get wrong.”
In addition to the color, you’ll also want to consider the shape. “You’ll want to pick at least one round-headed flower variety to pair with more linear varieties,” Stembel explains. “For this arrangement, I chose gorgeous blush roses for the round-headed variety and paired them with my new fave, coral carnations (don’t judge too quickly—they’re beautiful, smell great, and last forever!), and peach tulips, which is what we call a linear flower.”
This variety will help create an interesting and well-balanced bouquet.
Here's another pro tip that will take your arrangement to the next level: Mix in greenery like ferns, eucalyptus leaves, or long grasses. “I always start with a mixed green bouquet, which is important to get that wild look,” Stembel says.
Grocery stores typically carry mixed green bouquets, but you can save a few bucks by simply picking them out of your garden: “If you’re fortunate enough to live in a place with lots of vegetation at your disposal, you can also forage from your backyard.”
Another consideration when choosing flowers is their longevity—after all, you want your bouquet to last as long as possible. Some of Stembel’s favorite long-lasting flowers include carnations, calla lilies, oriental lilies, orchids, spray roses, and regular roses. However, she explains that you can get an indication of how long flowers will last based on their stems.
“When in doubt, look for hearty stems,” says Stembel. “Thick, solid-stemmed flowers usually last longer, whereas thin, hollow stems usually expire more quickly.”
If your bouquet is going to be a gift, swing by the gift aisle of the grocery store for some wrapping or tissue paper, or for more rustic look, you can hit up meat counter! “Go to the gift wrap section of the store and select some pretty tissue paper or even the meat section and ask for a couple pieces of butcher paper,” says Stembel. You may want to grab some ribbon or twine to tie up your bouquet as well.
Once you have all your supplies, it's time for the fun part! Start by preparing your flowers—you'll want to strip the leaves off the bottom half of each stem. “Simply snip off all the foliage that will fall below the water line once put in a vase,” Stembel explains. “You’ll want to keep the top ones on to help the flowers open, but the leaves that are in the water can grow bacteria on them that will make the flower expire more quickly.”
If you’re putting the flowers straight into a vase, you'll also want to snip off the bottom of each stem. This fresh cut will help them suck up water.
Now, it's time to arrange your blooms. If you're making a hand-wrapped bouquet, here are Stembel’s tips on how to make it look professional: “Lay the greenery down diagonally on the paper in a slight fan shape. Next, lay the carnations on top of the greens, about two inches below the top level of the greenery, and—this is key—stagger them all in height so they’re not in a straight line.”
“Do the same with the roses and then the tulips, fanning them all out on top of each other. Tie the stems with a ribbon so they’ll be easier to handle, then cut the stems the same height. Wrap both ends of the paper around them and tie again with a ribbon.”
The same idea holds true if you’re creating an arrangement in a vase. You'll want to cut the flowers to different heights to create a balanced, multi-level design. Put in one stem at a time, and turn your vase as you work to ensure your arrangement looks good from every angle.
Take care to avoid a few missteps that will make your bouquet look amateur. “Not staggering the flowers in height and combining too many bold (primary-ish) colors together are the common mistakes we see,” say Stembel.
She also recommends taking the cellophane off, as it’s a giveaway that the flowers are store-bought.
Finally, have fun with your flowers and let your creativity flow. The more you play with store-bought bouquets, the better you’ll get at creating beautiful, budget-friendly designs that will light up your home.
This article was originally published earlier this spring, and we're running it again because we love a good grocery bouquet.
What are your favorite blooms for making homemade bouquets and arrangements? Let us know below!