Nothing is more relaxing than a Saturday stroll to the local farmer’s market. While you’re picking up some heirloom tomatoes, treat yourself to a bouquet of farmer’s market flowers. Grown locally and often free of pesticides, you can’t beat their freshness, fragrance and variety. So how do you pick the best stems, and make them last once you’re home? Here’s everything you need to know about farmer’s market flowers.
How to Find the Best Farmer’s Market Flowers
For the freshest flowers and to get first dibs on your favorites, be sure to shop early in the day. While you browse the selection, look for bouquets that are bright and perky, avoiding droopy or brown-edged petals. And, although it may be tempting to pick a robust bouquet of fully bloomed flowers, it’s actually better to bring home an arrangement with lots of buds. This ensures that your flowers will bloom over the next few days, and you can enjoy them longer. Once you’ve made your choice, don’t be afraid to give the flowers a gentle shake, skip any flowers that drop petals. Also, don’t forget about the stems! Check the bottoms, the cut stems should be green and firm. Pass over any that are slimy or too soft.
State Farmer’s Market Flowers We Love
The flower varieties available to choose from at your farmer’s market depend on the season and the climate where you’re shopping. Here’s some of our favorite summer varieties you can get in each region of the U.S.
Cooler temperatures in the northeast don’t stop local farmers from producing beautiful flowers. In Maine, you can find delphiniums, alliums, irises and veronicas in May and June. Vermont is one of the latest producers of peonies, you can get them all the way into August; elsewhere they’re only available until about June.
The southeast includes states like Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. The mild winters in these areas are great for flower growing. If you visit a Florida farmer’s market in January you’ll find snapdragons, sunflowers, anemones, zinnias, Queen Anne’s lace, pin-cushion flowers, tulips and ranunculus. In the summer, the extreme heat makes flower farming a little more challenging.
Planning a summer vacation to a midwest state like Ohio, Michigan or Illinois? Get your flower bucket ready, because color explodes in the summer months in this region. You’ll find dahlias and lilies, cheerful sunflowers and whimsical cosmos.
Here’s a quick farmer’s market statistic for you, California has the most farmer’s markets in the United States. According to the California Farmer’s Market Association, the state boasts about 700 certified markets. That’s a lot of blossoms! In the summer, you’ll find about every variety the flower you can imagine, from blooming branches, popular peonies, and fragrant favorites like sweet peas, lilies and roses.
How to Care for Farmer’s Market Flowers at Home
When you’re ready to take your fresh farmer’s market flowers home, don’t make any pit stops on the way. Cut flowers thrive in cool temperatures, so you’ll end up with a wilted mess if you let them sit in a hot car for too long. At home, fill your vase with room temperature water, and give the stems a little trim. A 45 degree angle cut gives the stems a fresh surface to draw water. Lots of leaves in your arrangement? Be sure to remove any leaves that will sit below the water surface. Leaves under water can encourage bacteria and a foul smell. For best results, trim the stems and change out the water every day.