How do you get the stems you want without ordering in bulk or paying a huge premium?
Today, we’re answering a question from Natalie. She wrote, “Pricing. It drives me absolutely nuts. I understand that there are limitations, but there has to be some line between overpriced by-the-bunch and mass bulk. When you have a relatively small budget, buying 100 stems of a single flower (and I’m not talking about roses) is overkill, and will result in wasted flowers and wasted money. But $5/stem to buy it in small bunches is also steep. Find a middle line – what about 50 stems instead of 100? What about 30?”
So, what about 30 a stem?
Natalie’s question is great because it taps into some of the bigger dilemmas within the modern, global floral industry. Amy Stewart, in her book Flower Confidential, captures the frustration well. “We want a flower to be perfect, but we also want it to be unique, extraordinary,” she writes. “We want it to be a revelation, a one-of-a-kind experience. Such things get harder to find each year.” Instead of being able to get a few unique flowers, you’re stuck ordering hundreds of the same-old same-old, and that doesn’t work for many people.
But we have good news for Natalie and anyone in her position: there is a way around this problem, so long as it works for your style. As a side benefit, some styles will really benefit from following this advice.
First, let’s get clear on why this situation exists.
There’re two major reasons flowers need to be ordered in bulk. First, florists order flowers from across the continent, if not the world. With so much effort simply to get the flower to you, it’s not reasonable to ship only three or thirty.
Of course, you might wonder why they can’t ship me a hundred flowers but of different kinds? And this brings us to the second reason you have to buy bulk from major international growers.
These major internationally selling flower farms often specialize in their flowers, only growing one or a few kinds of flowers. So, they don’t have in their fields the three other blossoms you want to use in your bouquet.
The global floral market is both bad and good news for you. It’s bad, because you feel stuck buying bulk. It’s good because the global floral market gives you access to many flowers that can only grow in other parts of the world, and those flowers are essential for certain floral styles.
So that is the reason you are often asked to buy in bulk or pay a huge premium for a few select stems. Now for my good news to Natalie and anyone in her shoes. Today, we have another option: you need to source from local flower farms.
There has been a huge resurgence in US flower farms. They are across the country, in every state. These farms will let you buy fewer stems, pick your own flowers from their fields, and, sometimes, even grow a particular kind of flower for you if you can order in advance. Many floral designers even have their own farms.
If you do order from local farms, you face a new limitation. You have to use what’s actually in season for your local farms. But the good news is that this actually improves many styles (we go into detail on which styles want to use local and in season flowers in our Bouquet Starter System). If your style requires something you can’t get locally, you still have the option of ordering them from elsewhere.
To find local growers in your state, there are three things you can do. If you use the Bouquet Starter System, we’ll give you a list of growers in your area and the flowers they grow and florists and floral designers, many of whom source from these farms (or their own farms). To find growers on your own, you can also use the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers database (just note that some of the lists of flowers grown are out of date). To find a florist or floral designer who sources locally, use the Slow Flowers database.
When it comes to getting your flowers, you need knowledge and some solid determination not to cave to the status quo. A huge part of that is knowing which flowers you want: but just as important to the process is knowing how to get what you want within a system that sadly wasn’t built with discriminating female customers in mind (a big topic for another time). With these few resources under your belt, I hope you will be able to get what you want and claim your own floral style in the process. It’s worth it, after all. Flowers are one of the greatest ways to build your style for your wedding and beyond.