How to Turn Grocery Store Flowers Into a Florist-Worthy Bouquet

Learn how to elevate a pre-made bouquet—and how to make an arrangement out of separate bundles of blooms.

Woman arranging a bouquet of flowers in a glass vase
Photo: flyparade / GETTY IMAGES

Many grocery stores have an area dedicated to fresh flowers, with mixed bouquets and separate bunches of specific varieties. While adding a few blooms to your cart as you shop is one of life's simple pleasures, figuring out what to do with them when you get home is less cut and dry. At what angle should you cut the stems? Is there a way to make your arrangement last longer? Can you elevate your pre-made bouquet with some artistic styling? With some forward planning and a few basic supplies, you can easily turn store-bought blooms into a stunning arrangement worthy of any flower shop.

How to Choose Flowers for Your Arrangement

The first step to making a beautiful arrangement with grocery store flowers is selecting your blooms. Choose varieties that will give you a lot of color and texture—and always check to make sure the flowers are fresh before adding them to your cart.

Common Grocery Store Flowers

When you buy a flower arrangement from your local florist, there are endless varieties of flowers to choose from, but that's not always the case for store-bought blooms. "Grocery stores don't typically offer the most exotic flowers, as they are more expensive and harder to acquire, so they typically offer the most common florals such as roses, carnations, hydrangeas, gerber daisies, tulips, and lilies," says Victoria Ahn, a florist and the owner of Designs by Ahn in New York City.

Although you usually won't find niche flowers at grocery stores, they do tend to prioritize long lasting blooms resistant to suboptimal indoor conditions, like low light.

How to Identify Fresh Flowers

The last thing you want is to bring your store-bought flowers home and spend time arranging them only to watch them wilt in a day or two. Avoid this by identifying the freshest flowers when perusing your market's selection. "Scan blooms for signs of browning, mold, discoloration, or loose petals," says Lauren Anderson and Rachel Bridgwood, the owners of Sweet Root Village.

Typically, blooms that haven't fully opened yet or flowers with a strong base and stem last the longest. "I like to pinch the base of the flowers lightly and see if it feels hardy—if it feels too soft then likely it is less fresh," says Ahn.

Pre-Made Bouquet vs. Separate Bunches

Many grocery stores offer pre-arranged bouquets, as well as separate bunches of flowers. "If you are buying a mixed bouquet, look for one that highlights the least number of varieties, so you can be sure to get multiple of any type of bloom rather than one of each," says Anderson and Bridgwood. Also look for a bouquet that offers a mix of colors and textures.

Opting for separate bunches of blooms will give you a lot of creative freedom, but it's often more costly than buying a bouquet. When going this route, you will likely want to buy three or more separate bundles, including focal flowers, filler flowers, and greenery—the basic elements of any arrangement. "You can often skip buying separate greenery if you have options to forage a few branches from your yard or if you purchase a filler flower with more volume, such as mini carnations, solidago, stock, or similar," says Anderson and Bridgwood.

Purple flower arrangement in black vase

Prepare Your Vase

The vase you use can make or break your arrangement. You want one that fits all of your blooms without making them look too cramped or too sparse. While function is important, don't neglect aesthetics—choose a vase that reflects the beauty of your bouquet.

Choose a Vase

A smaller vase that is slightly taller than it is wide is the easiest to use when designing with grocery store flowers. "A larger mouth opening will require more blooms to fill it. Too small of an opening will choke the flowers into a very upright and stuffy design," says Anderson and Bridgwood. "Be mindful not to use a vase too tall for the stem length of what you purchased—you likely wouldn't want something taller than 12 inches high." Additionally, look for a vase that matches the style of your flowers, so your arrangement feels cohesive.

Add Your Mechanics

Although mechanics—think chicken wire, tape, and flower frogs—aren't necessary, they do wonders for the structure of your arrangement and are especially useful if you're working with a large vase and higher volume of blooms. Floral tape is the easiest option for beginners. Place the tape at the opening of the vase and use it to make a grid, which will form smaller segments to place the flower stems into.

Fill With Water

Finally, fill your vase with room temperature water. "In general having at least 5 inches of depth of water is ideal for ensuring all stems are secured properly and receive adequate hydration," says Anderson and Bridgwood.

The included flower food can be used for a mixed bouquet—but skip it if you're making an arrangement with separate bunches, since not all flowers can tolerate it. "When in doubt, fresh clean water without any additives is the safest best," says Anderson and Bridgwood. Note that your flowers will last longer if you change the water daily.

Prepare Your Flowers

Once you bring your flowers home, start by removing all of the packaging and rubber bands. Separate the flowers by type and lay the stems flat on your countertop. "Remove all foliage from the flowers that will end up below the waterline of your chosen vessel," says Anderson and Bridgwood. Wait to trim the flowers until you're ready to put them immediately into water. When you are ready to insert your blooms, trim off at least an inch of the stem on an angle (this maximizes the amount of the stem exposed to water) using clean, sharp scissors, pruners, or a knife.

How to Arrange Your Flowers

Now for the fun part—actually making your arrangement. As you work, be sure to constantly evaluate your bouquet from all sides to identify any visually disruptive areas in your arrangement (using a lazy Susan helps).


If you are new to floral arranging, start by adding your greenery, which will set the tone for the shape and size of your design. "For example, long flowering greens can spill out the edges, structured greens can add height and interest, and bushy greens can add great bulk and structural support for your blooms," says Anderson and Bridgwood.

Focal Flowers

Once you've created a nice foundation with your greenery, move onto your focal flowers, which should be the largest blooms in your arrangement. Popular grocery store focals include roses, peonies, tulips, and lilies. Place these flowers in clustered areas. "For example, if you only have six roses, put three to one side and three to the other," says Anderson and Bridgwood.

Filler Flowers

Lastly, use any smaller blooms to fill in liminal space. Feel free to take some liberties with your filler flowers—use them to add texture and give your arrangement a whimsical feel as you work.

How to Elevate Your Bouquet

Take your bouquet to the next level by implementing a few design elements used by florists.

Manipulate Stems

Give your arrangement a structural update by inserting your stems on a diagonal, allowing them to touch the bottom of the opposite side of the vase. Another way to add dimension with stems is how you cut them. "Cutting them each at different lengths will create a visually pleasing layered effect," says Anderson and Bridgwood.

Invert Blooms

One technique commonly used for roses and tulips is reflexing the flowers, which is when you invert the cup shape of the outer petals. Note that although this is visually impactful and adds new dimension to your design, it will also likely decrease the vase life of your flowers.

Remove Dead Flowers

You want your arrangement to look as vibrant as possible. One way to do this is by removing dead or drooping blooms and pruning damaged petals with scissors, rather than including them in your bouquet as is.

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