Oh flowers. How could I live without you? I wish I could sit in a room full of your bright colors and delicate petals all the time. You make me smile. You make me happy. You make me feel like having fun. I wish you lived closer. Maybe you should move your magical world of The Original Los Angeles Flower Market to downtown Fullerton so we can hang out more. But alas, I don’t think you ever will.
I really love flowers. A lot. So I try to head to the flower market in downtown LA whenever I have an excuse. I certainly don’t go often (or at least not often enough) but it is the best place for flowers of all kinds.
Here are my tips for visiting downtown LA’s flower market:
•Park on the Wall Street between 8th and 7th. If you arrive before 8 am, the meters are free. From 8 am to 6 pm, the meters are $3 per hour (quarters only). There are also lots accessible from Wall. Rates are $5 to $10 per day depending on when you arrive.
•The Flower Market is open to the trade only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2 am to 8 am and Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from open to 6 am. Non-trade hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 am to closing (generally around noon or 2 pm) and Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 6 am to closing. The earlier you go, the better the selection will be.
•If you are a member of the floral trade, you can buy a membership for $30 per year. If you aren’t, admission is $2 on weekdays and $1 on Saturdays for non-trade entrance.
•Shop both sides of the street. The floral market is a maze of small stalls from various sellers. Each morning will bring new seasonal flowers. Scope out all of the options before making your purchases. Each vendor will have slightly different shades, prices, and quality.
•Check the stems of the flowers before you purchase. Tulips that look great from the top might have mushy or moldy stems. Make sure to look inside before buying.
•Bring cash and buy lots. The more you buy, the better deal you’ll get.
•Bring buckets with water already in them and leave them in the car. I bought some 5-gallon buckets at Home Depot that worked great. You can also rent carts at the market so you don’t have to carry your bundles around.
•Be prepared to spend $2-10 per bunch of flowers. For a general idea of pricing, as of January 2010, 8-10 stems of tulips cost $5 to $8 per bunch. Ornamental Kale was $3-6 per 5 stems. Giant China Mums were $7-9 for 10 stems. Anemones were $5 for 8 stems. Prices will vary based on flowers, season, color, and vendor.
By the way, if you’re in Orange County and you don’t want to make the trek, here are some places to check out. They may not have what you need in stock but they can order it (with 3-5 days notice). It will potentially be a bit more expensive than LA but you won’t have to pay for gas or parking. Some may only sell wholesale but give them a call if you’re looking to place a large order.
•Flowerland of California 1518 East Valencia Drive, Fullerton 714.871.9630
•Mayesh 3241 Halladay, Santa Ana, 714.668.2120
Here’s a little disclaimer about this post. I love buying flowers downtown because I can get a lot of bang for my buck. I buy here for things like baby showers, photo shoots, and fun projects. I am a do-it-yourselfer at heart and always jump at the chance to create beautiful things with beautiful things. I do, however, recommend hiring a professional florist whenever possible. Working with flowers is hard. They can be finicky and fragile. They can go downhill quickly.
Especially for an occasion as important as a wedding, I would always hire a pro. Take it from someone who has amateurly attempted wedding florals. Hiring an expert is worth every penny. Not only will you get gorgeous florals that are consistent, beautiful, and well arranged, you’ll also save yourself and your friends HOURS of work, sweat, and tears. Their knowledge of seasonal availability, how to work with different blooms, and what not to do will make your big day a lot better than you can do on your own.