Budget Saving Tuesday Tips: Fresh Flowers
Welcome everyone to a new feature for summer, Budget Saving Tuesday Tips!
Here I plan to offer budget saving tips for different areas of your life during this incredibly challenging time of high inflation
I hope to bring you information and inspiration to get you through!
BUDGET SAVING TIP #1: FRESH FLOWERS
For those who are like me, I wanted to begin with fresh flowers.
I love to have flowers in our home and lately every time I go by that department of the grocery, I am shocked by the prices.
I also know there may be some of you planning events this summer…so let’s go to an expert.
A young woman, I know and respect…Katie Penfield of Katie Bug Florals.
How long have you worked with flowers…just describe your company briefly.
I started KatieBug Florals in 2015 after doing florals for friends and family on the side for a few years prior. I wanted to start a creative business that I could do out of my home with my babies by my side. Almost exactly a year after starting my business, we had our first child and I quit my full time job and became a full time business owner. Now we’ve grown to a full service wedding and event florist that takes on about 30-40 weddings a year as well as a sister company, called KatieBug Blooms, where we offer a la carte floral ordering from pre-designed collections.
Why do you believe flowers are priced higher right now?
The high cost of florals is kind of a series of unfortunate events that led to the perfect storm of incredibly high costs. It all started with the Covid shut down that forced farms across the world to shut down production and furlough field workers, which in turn led to crops going to waste. This also caused a lot of major farms to completely close after years and years of business. When the world begin to slowly reopen, the farms left did their best to replant and harvest what they could, however, in the spring of 2021, parts of South America where large amounts of floral product is grown experienced terrible rain and flooding. This caused major farms that grow the basics, such as roses and hydrangeas, to lose more crops. Then the fall of 2021 hit and the world was reopened in many parts for large events again and the demand was too much for the supply. Many farms are still attempting to recover and regrow. There were massive shortages last fall of basic flowers like roses that we never thought we’d see a shortage on. Finally the last straw was the rise in shipping costs worldwide as well as the shortage of shipping workers. Luxury agriculture, as florals are known, became low priority on the few ships and trucks that were moving product. So here we are with incredibly inflated floral costs and unfortunately, wholesalers are telling us there is not much of an end in sight.
If we want to have flowers at home, then which ones are the best and how do we keep them alive the longest in the house.
Flowers that tend to last the longest and are the heartiest are things like roses, hydrangeas, carnations, lilies, tulips and mums. Just make sure that you are regularly cleaning out the water and remove all foliage that would reach beneath the water line. This creates bacteria faster, then causing the flowers to die quicker. If you have the packets of floral food that often come with store bought flowers, that helps keep the water clean and the flowers fed as well. The most important thing is to change the water often and snip the tips again every time you do. It is crazy that some stores now charge for that floral food packet. But a touch of sugar sometimes helps as well.
Also, for hydrangeas, you can dip the ends in an aluminum chemical compound called Alum. It helps them to better absorb water. Also lilac has a more woody stem, so it is good to smash the end of the stem with a hammer before putting them in water.
If we want to gift flowers to someone, is it best to go with a plant or what would your recommendations be?
I think it’s depending on how long you are wanting your friend to enjoy them! A plant will give them more longevity, as long as they water it, but a fresh bouquet of flowers definitely brings the most joy, in my opinion.
Do you have budget saving recommendations for any planning a wedding or a special event?
I always start by telling my clients to think about the ways that we can get the most bang for their buck! Reusing and repurposing arrangements from ceremony to reception is a great way to get two for the price of one. We often move large arrangements from the altar onto table tops to double as centerpieces. We also move arches to behind sweetheart tables or around cake tables as an added wow for the night. There are also a lot of more affordable flowers out there that when layered together can create a high end look with a lower price tag. Carnations have always been considered sort of a cheap looking flower, however, farms are breeding new varieties that have incredible color and fullness. I’ve had people think carnations are a peony at times because of how beautiful they can be. The same goes for mums and some incredible new varieties being produced. This is why it’s important to hire a professional that knows about these things available in the market. And finally, I say to trust your florist. Due to the crazy shortages, we have had to make some massive substitutions in our orders just to secure enough product to produce events. There are still beautiful flowers available in the desired color schemes, however, you must trust your florist to make those substitutions for you and still gain the desired look. I’m always testing out new varieties and new colors to have some things in my back pocket in case of an emergency.
I want to thank Katie for helping to bring some clarification and tips to this topic…I hope I can keep flowers at home.
If you wish to contact her, you can go to
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I would have flowers in my home 365 days a year if I could. These are good tips from Katie! That would be such a rewarding business to have, in spite of the current difficulties, just to be able to do what you love. The photos are gorgeous – especially that one of the fireplace! What a show stopper that is!! I used to have plants in abundance when I had my house…my oldest son always teased me (I think it was teasing…🤔) about my “green friends”! Now I have a balcony, but with southern exposure, so I planted my garden in containers. I always get a huge amount of cut flowers from a package of zinnia seeds, so those made the list this year too. I remember when we had a Trader Joe’s closer to home and they had tons of gorgeous flowers that were much more varied than the ones at the regular grocery store. Flowers bring so much life into a home… they are a splurge I will indulge in. This is a great place to start a budget series, and fun to read Katie’s advice. What an amazing business to have!!
So delightful! How lucky of Katie to do what she loves. This was an enlightening article. I had never heard of using sugar before. Our outside flowering season is so short; we load up our deck and beds with flowers that can be cut and brought inside. In the winter we have to be more creative! My dried hydrangeas have a long winter season. Thanks for sharing this information. I look forward to Budget Tuesdays this summer.
The chemist in me had me looking up alum which is chemically aluminum sulfate. It helps any plant with a woody stem including roses and hydrangeas, as mentioned above, absorb more water. It is also used to lower the pH of soil for acid-loving plants. Lower acidic soil produces the blue color of hydrangeas. There are several homemade recipes for making cut flowers last longer. One is as simple as 1/4 tsp.bleach per qt.of water; another, 3 drops bleach +1 tsp.sugar per qt. The sugar provides food and the bleach slows the growth of fungi and bacteria. The florist friend in your post certainly does beautiful, unique work, and no doubt she is much in demand. An interesting topic to begin your new series.
What a terrific explanation of why flower prices are so high. Katie sounds so knowledgeable about global economic factors affecting her industry! I did not know about using alum. When putting in my garden flowers years ago I added tons of daisies and rows of lavender so I can have those along with the shorter season flowers, like peonies, or have them to flesh out a farmer’s market bouquet or grocery flower splurge. Tendrils of ivy and bits of herbs also make a sweet addition to my arrangements whether for home or as a bit of cheer for a friend. 😊🌼
I love flowers, and use plant food, the flower stem cutting trick and change out the water often. I use glass vases so I am motivated when it looks a little cloudy. I have various tricks, including getting a bouquet with my beloved lilies in all states of development; I find the buds almost always open in time. I also take a stem or two from my bouquet and put them in bud vases in our bathrooms. If a flower head is broken when you get it home, cut off the stem and float it in a wineglass filled almost to the brim with water. Unfortunately, we found out after moving in that the woods behind our condo shades our balcony so much we can hardly grow anything, so I’ve made lemonade out of lemons by making my cut flowers go a long way.
Katie had great advice and tips, thanks! When I was selling my house, my realtor recommended putting ice cubes in the vases of flowers. It really did help them to last longer. The other weird ‘tip’ I use is to add copper pennies to vases of cut tulips. Of course, this means making sure that you are using an older penny that actually is copper. -:) If you can, the best way to save money on flowers is to grow your own.
Such an interesting conversation with Katie! I learned that I must cut the stems each time I change the water. I haven’t done that- only when I got the flowers home had I been cutting the stems on angle. What a wonderful piece! Flowers year round do brighten up our lives!
I love having fresh flowers in my home. Trader Joe’s still has reasonably priced bouquets, but they are a bit smaller. One of the larger grocery chains has raised the price on their flowers, though. Thanks to Katie for sharing the reason behind the prices & her tips for making my flowers last longer. I still splurge on flowers because they bring me joy.
What a great interview with Katie to begin your Budget Tuesday Series! Good tips, I will need to pick up some alum and try cutting tips with each water change. Creative addition to your blog! Good luck to Katie with her business. Her pictures are lovely.
Great advice! Additionally, I’ve been purchasing flowers from Trader Joe’s. Their flowers are gorgeous and very inexpensive.
Something not mentioned in the article at all was finding a source of locally grown flowers. If you want beautiful flowers that will last a long time without a lot of fuss buy locally grown. There are thousands of small flower farms across the US that would love your business. Many sell directly to consumers through boughet subscriptions or farmers markets. Floret flowers has an amazing directory where you can search for local flower farms.