14 Tips That Will Make You a Master at Arranging Your Own Flowers

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Why pay $50 or more for a professional arrangement when you can do it yourself? Follow these tips, and you can make a bouquet from the grocery store look like the work of a professional.

The last time I ordered a floral gift, shipping cost half as much as the plant itself. Then the peace lily that was delivered had no blooms despite the one in the picture online being covered with white flowers.

If I hadn’t been four states away, I’d have bought a few flowers, snipped a few leaves, arranged a bouquet myself and delivered it myself.

But 68 percent of people who buy cut flowers at the grocery store are afraid to arrange them. At least that’s what Annie Vanderwarker says she learned from a survey she commissioned before launching fearlessflowers.com.

“They just plunk them in something without even trying to arrange them,” she said in the Chicago Tribune.

Once you’ve spent money on store-bought flowers — far less expensive than ordering an arranged bouquet — you have nothing to lose by trying your hand at arranging. There are plenty of opportunities to practice coming up: St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Passover, Administrative Professional’s and Mother’s Day all fall within the next month or two.

We’ve rounded up tips from such pros as Vanderwalker; Taylor Patterson, founder and CEO of Fox Fodder Farm in New York City, via Refinery 29; florist-to-the-stars Mark Held of Mark’s Garden in California, via Rachel Ray; and Better Homes and Gardens.

  • Select three types of flowers: stars, accents and fillers. Select an odd number of stars — three or five should do it — for a more visually pleasing arrangement. To keep it simple, use only one kind of flower as the stars, only one kind of flower as the accents, and only one kind of flower or foliage as the fillers.
  • Stars are the dominant element of the bouquet, the focal point. They’re often the biggest flowers and the boldest colors in the bouquet. The accent flowers are usually smaller and less bold — they should complement the stars. Florists often use baby’s breath or fern leaves as fillers, but other types of leaves can work — check your backyard or a friend’s before you buy.
  • Put all flowers in water as soon as possible.
  • Before trimming the stems, think about the bouquet and consider the height of the vase. Flowers of varying heights add dimension, and some experts recommend making the height of the bouquet 1 to 1½ times the height of the vase.
  • Trim the bottoms of the stems, cutting the stems at an angle so they absorb more water.
  • Remove any leaves that would be below the water line. Decaying leaves encourage bacteria.
  • Add a drop or two of bleach to the water to inhibit bacteria.
  • Test out different arrangement options while holding the flowers in your hand.
  • With a clear vase, use clear professional floral tape to create a grid that will help you arrange the flowers in the vase and help prevent them from falling over. Check out Apartment Therapy‘s one-minute video. While it insists on professional tape, others say standard office tape can work just as well.
  • With an opaque vase, you can insert chicken wire or use florist foam instead of tape if you prefer. Just note that the foam is less forgiving if you decide to rearrange your bouquet or are unsure how to arrange it from the start.
  • Experts differ on what order the stars, accents and fillers should be added to the vase, so perhaps you can’t go wrong, especially if you’re using tape or chicken wire so you can rearrange to your heart’s content.
  • If any flower or piece of foliage sticks out too much, trim it further.
  • Look at the bouquet from every side and from above to see if there are any gaps that need to be filled.
  • Re-trim the stems and change the water, or re-water the foam, every couple of days to prolong the life of the bouquet.

For more tips on saving money on the flowers, check out this video from 7 Ways to Save on Valentine’s Day Flowers.

Stacy Johnson

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