Our garden editor shares tips and tricks for making the most of your grocery store blooms.

Floret Farms Arrangement
Thomas J. Story

There’s no question that people love Trader Joe’s, and while you might be popping in for the current end-cap display of Ube Mochi Pancake & Waffle Mix or Pizza Party Potato Chips, I’m taking full advantage of the springtime buffet of blooms. For me, there is no greater pleasure (or budget-friendly flower shopping) than building your own bouquets out of TJ’s flowers and fillers. Whether you’re looking to make an arrangement for someone you love, or just to add a little splash of seasonal style to your tabletop, here are a few tips and tricks to take your springtime stems to the next level. 

Bulbs vs Bouquets

Photo by Getty Images / Alexandra Rowley

When it comes to selecting spring flowers, especially for a gift, I lean into the planted containers with bulbs versus a bouquet of cut flowers. Why? Not only do bulbs last longer, but you can also replant them in your garden—not to mention bulbs give you a bigger bang for your buck. Most gardeners have sticker shock when it comes to ordering bulbs that can range from $2-4 apiece. But some stores carry a TJ’s “Bulb Garden” for $8.99. It’s a shallow terracotta pot stuffed with tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth, which is a solid spring lineup with return benefits compared to a cut bouquet for only a dollar or two less.  

When opting for the container, make sure to grab a pot with flowers fully closed for the longest bloom time. Keep soil moist and simply snip above the soil line once stems are spent. To store for future blooming, place the pot in a cool dry place until fall planting time or allow bulbs to go completely dormant by removing them from soil and placing them in a paper or mesh bag full of coconut fiber and vermiculite. Come fall, replant with a soil refresh in the same pot, or plant out in garden beds. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Cut Flowers Worth Grabbing

White Bouquet

Thomas J. Story

Lilacs, hydrangeas, and Veronica are springtime staples, but I suggest you run and grab my current seasonal obsession: butterfly ranunculus. They are romance on a stem. Delicate paper blooms in light cream or blush look incredible on their own in a stoneware vase or paired with unexpected textures like a couple of pincushion blooms. These ranunculus are by far my new favorite flower that I will also be adding to my garden seed purchases for fall planting. 

Fillers Are Fab

Filler Flowers

Thomas J. Story

This is perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I think TJ botanical fillers are fantastic. Maybe one of the best deals when it comes to DIY bouquet making, they are low in cost and the greenery is long-lasting. No matter what style of bouquet you’re trying to create, these little botanical bundles are the unsung heroes of the flower section and are a regular staple for my home arrangements. Pro tip: Look for greens that will dry and hold shape such as eucalyptus, green dragon aster, or Eryngium thistle, which all make for architectural and interesting everlasting arrangements.

Keep Them Fresh

Bluma Farm Flower Arrangement Table

Thomas J. Story

Whatever flowers you end up snagging, certain springtime stems need a little extra TLC to keep them fresh. Here are a few tips for blooms that look banging.

Stem Cuts Matter: Where common grocery store blooms have hearty or hard stems and should be cut at a diagonal, bulb flowers such as hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips should be cut above any remaining white bulb where the green stem starts, as water cannot be absorbed from the woody bulb area. 

Pin Prick: I’m sure you’ve heard of the penny trick, but it turns out that tulips prefer a little pin prick in the stem just below the bloom to keep them from drooping.  

Hot Water Plunge: Spring stems like hydrangea and viburnum prefer a little rehydration via hot water. Simply place 2-3 inches of boiling water into a vase and submerge the top of freshly cut stems for 30 seconds followed by a fresh vase of cold water. 

No Water Needed: Pussy willow branches are plentiful right now and unlike other fresh blooming branches, they don’t need water. Once buds open, simply spray with hairspray to keep them from falling from the branch.