When you browse the array of flowers on display in a flower shop, you might wonder what happens with unsold flowers. The answer is not that simple, unsold flowers are used for various purposes. Read on to find out all the possible usages and find out how to get a good deal at your local florist.

So what do florists do with unsold flowers?

Cut flowers don’t last long, at most ten days after being cut. Naturally, the majority of people buying flowers would want them to remain presentable for at least a week. Most good florists will make sure that their flowers are fresh, thus unsold flowers are used in other, creative ways.

1. Discounting

Most florists that I know will offer heavy discounts on flowers that they can’t sell. You can ask your local florist when they restock and then check the evening prior to the restock for discount sales, most florists will be happy to make at least some money out of older blooms.

2. Donations

Leftover flowers are sometimes distributed to hospitals and care homes. Despite the fact that the flowers lose their freshness after a while, they still can be used to comfort people who are depressed. The hospital patients will feel happier when bouquets are given to them (1).

In the UK flower donations mainly go through a charity called Floral Angels; they recycle flowers from weddings, florists, events and retailers by making beautiful bouquets out of them and delivering to hospitals. This is quite admirable considering how much waste was happening at New Covent-garden market prior to charity’s establishment.

Flowers in bin, what florists do with unsold flowers

3.Training & experimentation

The unused flowers can also be used for training floristry students. In the flower industry trends change quickly and so staying on top of new techniques is the key. Good florists are always on the lookout for new floral designs and are eager to learn, so there are no useless flowers.

4. Giveaways/freebies

You can be lucky and get your flowers for free especially in season. Some florists commit such random acts of kindness/marketing as lonely bouquet campaign where a bouquet is being left in public place for a lucky person to find. Flowers in such bouquets are not necessarily old flowers.

Most often free flowers will be given to loyal customers in addition to their bouquets, so it is worth building a good relationship with your local florist. I also saw florist leaving flowers near the store after office hours for collection. Nothing expensive though a bunch of daffodils or tulips but this does not mean it won’t make someone’s day.

5. Recycle

Finally if all other options have been exhausted, old/dying flowers are disposed of; hopefully recycled as compost for the next generation of blooms.


(Brethour 2007, Frank 2003, Friend 2008, Lohr 2000, Park, 2009, Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Assn. 2009, Ulrich 1984)