14 flower arranging tips, according to florists

14 flower arranging tips, according to florists

Martha has been growing and arranging flowers since she was a little girl. And there is no shortage of these elements at Bedford Farm, her 150-acre property in Katonah, New York. Over the years, she has grown a garden filled with all of her favorite plants: peonies, lilac bushes, hydrangeas, clematis, shade plants, and tulip beds.

If you, like Martha, are inspired by your outdoor garden in full bloom, you may want to use your flowers to create a beautiful bouquet for your next dinner gathering, home visit, or summer party. And while you can always design an organic, asymmetrical arrangement that’s your own work of art, there are some tried-and-true rules for creating a flower arrangement that looks fresh, vibrant, and lasts longer.

Here, we’ve armed you with the best tips and tricks from our most trusted florists for you to use in your next flower arrangement, ensuring an unforgettable result.

Decide on placement

Thomas Lev

First, decide where you will display the arrangement and what you will use it for. Your choice of vase will depend on where you intend to place the arrangement: tall vases are great for entryways, mantels, desks, and dressers, while shorter vases are ideal for floral arrangements that will be displayed on the dinner table.

“When someone comes into a room or a space, and they see a beautiful flower arrangement, they take in the flowers and the composition, but what they don’t know is that they notice the proportion,” says owner Christopher Graham. Artistic flower shop and greenhouse. “That’s something that’s part of the wow factor, that you don’t even know you’re really noticing, but you’re like, ‘Man, that looks cool!’”

Measure the height of the vase

Louise Hager

If you are using a tall vase, the height of the entire arrangement from top to bottom should be 2 1/2 times the height of that vase. “Different designs carry different heights and widths, but what is most appealing to the eye — what looks best, what is most acceptable, what you will find in the book — is two and a half times,” says Graham.

So, if your vase is 10 inches tall, your entire arrangement should be 25 inches high. For smaller vases, such as a cube, you should look to achieve one and a half times the height of the vase and two times the width. This is so that guests can see the floral arrangements.

Keep the flowers facing forward

Johnny Fogg

Instead of trying to create an arrangement that wows from all angles, it’s perfectly fine to focus on just one “face” of the arrangement. “If you’re on a tight budget, which is usually the case, and you’re going to place your arrangement on a mantelpiece or on a wall, have each flower facing forward,” says Graham. With the flowers you save from skipping a 360 design, you can probably create two flower displays for the price of one.

Create balance

Gabriella Hermann

Most people strive to create symmetry in a flower arrangement, but balance can be pleasing to the eye and visually impactful. “You might have all the lilies on one side, but have big-headed roses on the other side. It’s not symmetrical, but it’s balanced,” says Graham. Not only is balance more interesting to the eye, but it is also easier to do, since finding symmetry between two flowers is almost impossible.

Incorporate texture

You want each element in your bouquet to stand out in its own way, rather than letting everything blend together. “You can put every color in the world in one order, as long as it’s distinct,” says Graham. “You don’t want flowers to lose their independent effect.”

It’s best to create monochromatic arrangements using flowers with different textures, this way you’ll be able to see each flower without just seeing the color. Pictured here, the stems of delphinium and larkspur in violet-blue hues form an arrangement that is both delicate and stately. Greenery and stems are also a great way to add texture to an arrangement, Graham says.


Lori Frankel

Clean and chop all your ingredients before starting your design — flowers, greens, etc. — says Clover Chadwick, owner of Dandelion Ranch in Los Angeles, California. This way, you can observe the growth pattern of each stem.

Good preparation makes styling easy, as you can choose the angle of each leg before placing them in the arrangement. This is very useful for paving pattern arrangements, wildflower arrangements, exotic garden arrangements, and especially anything that involves asymmetrical patterns.

Sort by bloom size

Ngok Minh Ngok

All plants compete for the sun when they grow, and flowers are no exception. The buds rise to the sky and fall to the ground as they grow heavier. That’s why you want to save the narrower (or smaller) flowers for last, and use the larger-headed ones lower down and earlier. This gives your arrangements natural movement and helps them last longer.

Save unused materials

Ngok Minh Ngok

When you’re designing a lot of arrangements, start with your largest arrangements, saving all the scraps or breakage. Small pieces are great for building smaller arrangements, and the smallest can also be used for small bud vases to scatter around the house or cluster around larger arrangements.

Water some bulbs thoroughly

Annie Burr

Bulbs such as peonies, ranunculus, tulips and anemones will last longer if you keep them one to two inches in water, Chadwick says. You just have to make sure they always get the right amount to drink. If you give them too much, too soon, they will disintegrate. Note that this is not true for all cut flowers, as some prefer the vase to be at least 5 inches filled with water.

Get to know your flowers

Sang An

It’s important to know your flowers’ personalities and care needs. For example, when creating bouquets of poppies, burning the ends of the poppy stems helps retain moisture and avoid wilting, says Victoria Munsol Singolda, founder and creative director of Iris & Virgil in Brooklyn, New York. Doing this will also prevent other flowers in your arrangement from deteriorating prematurely as a result of the milky substance that may seep from the poppy stem, Singolda says.

Use floral tape

Raymond Home

If you’re concerned about placement, you can create a quick and easy grid on any bowl or vase using clear floral tape. This will allow you to position the stems and keep them in place, as well as prevent the stems from tangling if you decide to rearrange them. Simply create a grid across the top of any pot by applying two or three vertical lines of floral tape across the top, then the same number horizontally.

Finally, to secure your tape and make it stick well even in the most dramatic stem gestures, wrap a layer of tape around the diameter of the bowl to secure the ends of the mesh tape. Hide any visible tape with green or pink elements in your design.

Consider specialty vases

Frederic Lagrange

Although not all types of flowers have a vase designed specifically for their use, some flowers have a vase designed specifically for their use. Example: lavender and tulipery. Also known as tulip pots, tulips are ceramic vessels with several spouts to hold individual flowers or small groups. The beauty of a tulip pot is that you can use just a few stems to get a full display – even with just one flower per spout, you can create a visual impact. And don’t just stop at tulips! Consider adding Queen Anne’s lace, sweet peas, garden roses, cosmos, or any flower you like.

Cut the stems to different heights

Nice and highs

When arranging stems, it’s a good idea to play with different heights to create interesting negative space in your arrangement. “Not only will this create depth and interest, but it will allow you to sculpt your way into a new look and design that is bound to catch the attention of those who see it,” says Singolda.

Stems should be cut at a sharp angle using fine shears (1 to 2 inches from the end of the stem is a good rule). Here, there’s a massive, eye-catching still life of apple branches and apples in a guest bedroom.

Don’t be afraid to improvise

Lori Frankel

If you see something eye-catching growing naturally around the landscape in your area, cut it and use it in one of your arrangements. At her centuries-old family home in New Hampshire, floral designer Amy Merrick’s bouquets often include more than just flowers, as evidenced by this romantic arrangement of berries, roses and begonias. “I keep a pair of shears with me, just in case I pass beautiful wildflowers on the side of the road,” she says. “I leave plenty of room for the unexpected.”

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