Learn How to Arrange Inexpensive Grocery Store Flowers

Two arrangements of grocery store flowers

Not too long ago, New Hampshire went modern and welcomed Trader Joe’s to set up shop. (We’re only an hour north of Boston, but in the Granite State, we like to reeeaallly mull new things over before we allow them to take root here.) Having a Trader Joe’s in our town is great for a lot of things, but the first thing that always gets me is the buckets and buckets of flower bouquets they hit you with the minute you walk in the door. I got into the habit of eagerly grabbing two or three, and then … they’d sit on the counter for a day or two. Or maybe languish in the vase I haphazardly dumped them in. My visions of gorgeous DIY flower arrangements didn’t ever seem to work out, no matter how many times I shoved the stalks around, trying to get them to stay where I wanted them to be.

Lucky for me, I was able to beg a flower-arranging lesson from a great friend of mine, Heidi Hamblett, who, aside from being a best bud and fellow craft addict, is insanely talented with flowers. (For all the New England brides in need of a floral genius, and gentlemen looking to score points with the ladies – Heidi just recently purchased a fantastic shop, Flowers by Leslie, in Portsmouth, NH. Call her. Trust me on this one. You’re welcome.) Heidi was more than happy to come give me some pointers on how to make the most of my TJ’s blooms. Probably so I’d stop hacking innocent flowers to shreds.

Tah-Dah! Top Three Tips and Tricks from a Floral Wizard:

Heidi’s first tip was like getting the golden ticket. You guys – it’s all in the skinny double-sided tape florists use to create a grid at the top of the vase.  The stuff magically keeps all those stalks in place just where you want them. It’s like Spanx for flowers in vases. I’m sure you can get the stuff at craft stores, but after Heidi left, I also used my craft knife to split regular double sided tape down the middle, and that worked fine. OK, so great – tape grid.  Done.

using double-sided tape to create a grid on a vase
Next, Heidi showed me how to trim off all of the lower leaves from the greens, which I’d been a little scared to do before. I sort of thought I’d kill the flowers if I cut off any of the lower leaves, so all of my arrangements ended up looking like an untrimmed hedge. Heidi assured me it would be OK.

trimming bottom leaves from hyacinths
The next big light-bulb moment was when Heidi clued me in that you put the greenery in FIRST. Left to my own devices, I’d been propping up the flowers with one hand, and then frantically shoving the greens around them to try to make them stay put. It was not pretty. Once you have your greenery all filled in, THEN you start strategically placing your flowers, now that the grid and the greenery make up a perfect support system.

arranging greenery first and then flowers in a vase

I watched Heidi like a hawk, frantically snapping pictures, as she put together two arrangements in about four and a half minutes. It was like a front row seat at a magic show. But the real test came after she left and I faced my last empty vase and my one remaining bouquet of flowers. And guess what?

It. Came. Out. Perfectly. I’m only half kidding when I say I wanted to walk down the street holding the thing over my head like a trophy. It’s moments like those that make me wish there were merit badges for grown-ups. See our arrangements here.

Since Heidi came over, I’ve bought and arranged half a dozen grocery store bouquets, and it makes me so happy to come home to fresh flowers in the house, without breaking the bank. But if you’re worried about any florists losing business on my account, have no fear. I’ve got a husband who’s smarter than your average bear and he knows how I adore ranunculus.  And I’m not sharing the skinny tape trick with him, so Heidi should be hearing from him any day now.

4 Responses

  1. SummyG says:

    I was confused about what exactly this article was talking about in regard to a 'tape grid' until I read your reply Marie, and what you are saying about running the tape around the grid edges makes perfect sense. Thanks for that tip!

  2. Kelly Smith Trimble says:

    Thanks, Marie, great tip! We look forward to checking out your upcoming series.

    • vlasicstudio says:

      Thanks Kelly! I'm excited about about doing it. Coming soon! -Marie Vlasic theyearoflivingfabulously.com

  3. vlasicstudio says:

    Great tips, but may I add something? (I was a floral designer for over a dozen years) Yes, the tape grid is essential to a good arrangement in anything but the smallest vases. To do a proper grid, dry the vase's edges first, make sure there is about a square inch space between the tape segments, and most importantly, after your grid is taped on, run a layer of tape all the way around the outside of the vase over the edges of the grid! Otherwise your tape grid will fall apart when it gets wet. (I will be doing a series on at-home flower arranging on my blog theyearoflivingfabulously.com soon!) -Marie Vlasic

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About Ellen Foord 

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As the founder, designer, and one-woman workforce behind Minnow + Co, a tight budget has never stopped this DIY-girl-at-heart from creating a beautiful, modern, creative home and treating every ...

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