Your Guide to Preparing, Processing, and Arranging Flowers for Delivery

Want to step up your flower game? Get expert-evaluated tips and tricks for making flower arrangements.

14 min read
Your Guide to Prepping, Processing, and Arranging Flowers for Delivery

The art of flower arrangement is surprisingly complex. In order to create an arrangement that looks effortlessly beautiful, it actually takes an incredible amount of hard work and skill. Thankfully, professional flower arrangement is something that customers rarely take for granted. Whether it’s for a celebration like a wedding or an anniversary, or something more somber like a memorial service, a beautiful bouquet or display has the ability to brighten any room, communicate love in visual form, and even encourage people to stop and smell the roses (sometimes literally).

With online flower delivery on the rise, it’s important to ensure your arrangements are ready to make the journey to customers in your neighborhood and beyond. In this article, we’ll cover tips and tricks for prepping, processing, and arranging flowers for delivery, covering every step from unboxing blooms to ensuring your flowers get to customers in good condition.

Prepping and processing flowers

First, it’s important to prepare your flowers. As soon as Sunny Chu of Sunny Florists, based in Boston, Massachusetts, receives an order of flowers, she unboxes them and starts to trim unnecessary leaves and stems. “This step is important before we begin an arrangement,” she shares. Having a clean assortment of flowers is like building your artist’s palette — you don’t want to think about cleaning stems when you’re later focused on arranging them.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Next, help your flowers rehydrate by putting them in water or a hydrating solution. Use a sharp knife to slice the stems at an angle, about a half inch from the bottom, allowing the flower to drink water more efficiently. “We let our flowers hydrate for about an hour at room temperature so they’re able to take in enough water before we put them in the walk-in cooler,” explains Eric Santos, who runs Santos Flowers in Garfield, New Jersey, with his parents. This will help your flowers last longer and be more fresh when they arrive at your customer’s doorstep.

Keep it cool

One of the most important parts of the flower arrangement process is keeping flowers at a cool temperature. If it’s too hot, flowers will wilt and decay—if it’s too cold, flowers will get dry and can even freeze. Once your flowers are hydrated, it’s time to put them into the cooler while they wait to be made into arrangements. Make sure that your cooler is around 34-36°F for optimum results.

Arranging flowers for delivery

Now — the fun part! Flower arrangement is an art, which means that each florist brings their own creative approach to the table. First, start with your imagination and envision the kind of arrangement you want to create. Is it light and airy? Is it rich and dense? Are you drawn to specific colors, textures, or shapes?

Once you have an idea of where you want to start, get your tools and blooms ready, and follow these guidelines.

Pick a vessel

Whether you’re building a handheld bouquet or designing a floral arrangement for a vase, it’s important to start with a strong foundation. Building a supportive base layer can help ensure an arrangement holds up through transportation and delivery, and beyond.

Start with the container for your flowers. Are you going to be placing them in a vase, a basket, a wrap, or something else? Taller, heavier flowers like sunflowers may benefit from a weighted base so they don’t tip over, while dainty blooms may need a vessel that doesn’t overwhelm their scale.

When choosing the container that makes most sense for your design, don’t be afraid to try something new. One of Santos Flowers’ best-sellers is a vase shaped like a log. “People love it!” Eric shares. “And when thinking about delivery, we try to pick vases that are as flat as possible,” he explains. The log vase or a square vase are his top choice for flower delivery orders.

When thinking about delivery, we try to pick vases that are as flat as possible.

Eric Santos, Owner, Santos Flowers

Build a base

You’ll also want to consider the greenery or other material that builds the “base” of your floral design. Sunny prefers to work with hardy eucalyptus or vibrant ferns, both of which add color, texture, and support to her designs. Visually, a layer of greenery can help also spotlight up the brighter, more eye-catching flowers in your design by providing a dark contrasting color at the base.

Place your greenery stems in a crossing pattern to start to build a structure, making it easy to add other flowers in later. Additionally, don’t forget non-organic tools like chicken wire, floral tape, or floral foam. If hidden or well-blended with your flowers and leaves, these materials can provide a strong structure or scaffolding for designs that might otherwise have a hard time holding themselves up. Sunny, for example, is a huge fan of chicken wire and uses it often in her designs because it’s so versatile.

Add color and texture

Once you have a base, it’s time to start adding your focal items — whatever flowers or elements you want to be the highlight of your floral arrangement. Often, these are the heaviest or biggest flowers. Due to the rule of odds, it’s recommended to feature an odd number of your focal flowers, because it’s typically more dynamic and aesthetically pleasing.

Next, start to fill in your arrangement with your secondary flowers. When choosing these flowers, consider the color, texture, and shape of them, and think about how they complement or contrast with your focal blooms to create a unique design.

Finally, add in your remaining flowers — generally these will be your lightest and smallest ones. Use them to fill in gaps until the overall arrangement feels balanced and complete

Review your design

When you step back, make sure to review your flower arrangement from all sides. Is it symmetrical or asymmetrical (and is that intentional)? Are there gaps? Are there any wilted petals that need to be plucked, or a surface that needs to be wiped down? This is also the moment to add any extras, like a ribbon or other decorative elements, or a card with care instructions and plant food.

If everything looks good, you’re ready to put the arrangement back in the cooler until it’s time for delivery or pickup.

Protect your designs for delivery

When you’re arranging your flowers, there are a few key things to keep in mind specifically for delivery

Choose the right shape

Ideally, you want a shape that won’t tip over easily in a car. Eric and his family have found that forward-facing designs work best for them. “As the people who have delivered our own flowers, we know a lot about what works and what doesn’t,” shared Eric. Instead of building round bouquets, they design them to be angled so they travel better.

As the people who have delivered our own flowers, we know a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

Eric Santos , Owner, Santos Flowers

“When we deliver, we’re making stops and going around corners, which can move the flowers around. We’re very careful in how we design our arrangements for delivery because we want to give the customer something that looks exactly like the picture,” he explains. 

Consider the toughness of your blooms

Although most delivery trips are short enough that your flower arrangements should be fine, considering the hardiness of the flowers you use is never a bad idea as they’ll help your arrangements last longer in your customers’ homes. For example, many roses today have been bred to be resilient and long-lasting.

Sunny also likes to feature flowers that are in season, since they’re usually quite strong. For example: “I’ll do a lot of arrangements with peonies when they’re in season in May and June,” she shares. For Eric and his family, sunflowers are an ideal option since they’re also very robust.

Add extra reinforcement

For vessels that can easily tip over, like round vases, make sure to add extra reinforcement. “We pack our flowers well already,” Sunny shares. “But sometimes we’ll put a vase in a holder box with decorative paper to add an extra layer of protection.”

For flower arrangements that hold a lot of water, the Santos Flowers team will sometimes cover the base with a thick layer of plastic wrap so it doesn’t spill in the car.

Provide helpful delivery instructions

When it comes time for delivery, both Sunny and Eric are comfortable talking with Dashers to provide specific instructions for delivering flower arrangements. For example, Eric and his parents will show drivers how to buckle an arrangement into the front seat with the belt buckle around the vase and the top of the belt around the back of the headrest so it doesn’t crush the flowers.

Similarly, Sunny likes to share pointers on temperature. “If it’s hot that day, we tell them to keep the car cool but to make sure the A/C isn’t pointing directly at the flowers,” she explains.

With DoorDash, flower shops can also provide delivery instructions for Dashers right in the app — but it never hurts to walk through the process in person too. Eric explains, “The Dashers take their work seriously because it’s their livelihood. We don’t mind taking the time to share what we know with them because it creates a better experience for us, the drivers, and our customers.”

Making delivery fast and easy with a flower delivery partner

As you grow your flower business, working with a flower delivery partner can make the process of getting flowers to customers easier. Though Eric and his family still manage a portion of their deliveries on their own, they’ve been able to take on more orders because they can tap into a fleet of Dashers to make quick deliveries. “We’re a really small business, it’s basically just our family,” Eric shares. “We can’t drive too far — but DoorDash allows us to reach customers much farther away.”

The biggest benefit of DoorDash is how fast they deliver.

Sunny Chu , Owner, Sunny Florists

For Sunny, one of the biggest benefits is the speed of delivery that she has access to. When her delivery truck is out and a customer needs an arrangement on short order, she tells them to order through DoorDash. She can create the bouquet and have it ready to go in less than an hour. “The biggest benefit of DoorDash is how fast they deliver,” she says.

Learn more about how flower delivery works with DoorDash, and sign up for DoorDash today.


Ali Cottong
Ali Cottong


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