If you're in the Bay Area this Mother's Day, Sunday, May 14th (and your mama likes flowers) rather than order from one of those impersonal, pre-picked bouquets --
Why not make your way to San Francisco's very own Flower Market?
A very in-the-know and instagramable spot where you & your family can make your very own beautiful and locally-sourced, wholesale bouquet and forget those online flower chains? Make a Mother's Day bouquet especially for Mom handpicked by you!
This whole thing started because I love peonies.
I am a sucker for the bath-bomb-esque way that the petals open seductively from the perfectly shaped and tightly packed orbs they used to be. I cannot resist the variegated varieties that have that characteristic paint stroke and pop of color at the ends of their petals. Typically these flowers are white or light pink with a beautiful and distinct darker shade of pink or rouge reaching past the petals' edge.
Eager for peony season but tight on a budget, I decided to find out if there was public access to the wholesale flower market -- y'know, one where all the florists, hoteliers, private event coordinators go and get their flowers on the cheap. Rather than involve a pricey middleman, I figured maybe they grant public access and I could get my peonies at a decent price directly from the farmers themselves.
[I blame TJ's since it would seem Trader Joe's made peonies the most sought after spring blossom with their comically affordable prices the last couple of years.
Don't get me wrong, peonies were always on the pricier side, but with global warming pushing the blooming season further and further back, and Trader Joe's exposure, peonies have seemingly doubled in price since 2021.]
Luckily, the SF Flower Market does have hours open to the public (be sure to double check their listing, but as of April 2023, they are open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 8-11am.
After exploring both sides of the market (about half a block with a private & payment required parking lot) I decided on a wholesaler with the majority of blooms I was interested and of course, great prices on the peonies I really wanted.
With peonies being in such high demand, I expected most places to be cleared out of their bunches by the florists and hoteliers that have access before 8am.
I found a wholesaler with peonies, 5 stems a bunch ranging from $25.50 - $27.50, but not the colors I wanted. Then I found Juan at Ortiz Wholesale with an unbelievable display and variety of flowers - just a jaw dropping array of beautiful, better-than-a-reverie, brilliant blossoms everywhere. Juan didn't have any peonies displayed, but I couldn't pass up the ones I saw immediately.
Don't be afraid to ask the employees if they're keeping any stashed anywhere, chances are, if you ask nicely, they'll try their best to find the box with fresh blooms they haven't opened yet.
Seriously, this place isn't just for Mother's Day, this is the place to come for whatever floral arrangements your next event requires.
Event planners, be forewarned, Cuban Kitchen guests know where to get a good deal on their flowers now.
Located between 6th & Brannan Streets, 640 Brannan Street, San Francisco 94107; the SF Flower Mart is some place you'll want to get lost, be sure to have time to appreciate everything.
And be warned: the entrance is hard to locate if you're using Google Maps and coming from the 6th St. Exit on the 280 North.
You don't want to be in the rightmost lane that turns down Brannan headed towards the Bay Bridge, you want to go straight and be ready to turn right almost immediately after that green Flower Market Café building on the corner there. There's a little gate where you'll need to grab a ticket if you're parking in the market, and make sure to pay the ticket before you lineup to leave - there's a couple machines spaced throughout the market with PAY HERE signs posted above them.