Have you ever passed by a flower shop or market brimming with lush greenery and a spectrum of buds and thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to pick something up?” If so, we imagine the primary thing holding you back was not being sure about what to do with said flowers once you brought them home.
It’s true that floral arrangements are an art and a skill that takes time and patience to develop, but in the same way you can whip up a restaurant-worthy meal in your very own kitchen, you can also create your own floral arrangement at home.
Ultimately, you just need to follow a few tenants of creating a stunning bouquet, and then the rest is personal touch. To help walk you through the process, we reached out to Jennifer Page, the boutique manager at Fleur Chicago and a florist for Floom. No matter what aesthetic you’re going for, you need the following:
- Floral scissors
- Wire or tape (optional, but helpful)
- A variety of flowers
- A variety of greenery
Choosing Your Flowers & Greenery
“Our rule of thumb is working within a cohesive palette,” says Page. “We love mixing warm tones with subtle neutrals for a really beautiful natural feel. Having one bold focal color, accented with more subdued hues can really give an arrangement room to breathe and create a consistent color story without being overwhelming.”
If you’re going for colorful, she says to choose two or three hues with a variety in tones, that way the arrangement doesn’t look like it’s too “all over the place.” You can also opt for variety in flower type and clustering the same flower types, to create areas the eye gravitates toward.
In addition to flowers, incorporate greenery into the mix. This will give your arrangement a more robust and earthy feel. A good rule of thumb is to make roughly one-third of your arrangement greenery and the rest flowers.
“Generally speaking, any combination of flowers [and greenery] go well together as long as you are paying mind to colors and shapes,” says Page. Trust yourself!
Preparing Your Flowers & Greenery
When you buy flowers at the market, florist, or grocery store, oftentimes they won’t be fully prepared for arranging.
“Always make sure that all leaves and other funky stem trimmings are removed. Anything that sits in the water can cause bacteria to build up and will hurt the longevity of the arrangements,” notes Page. “Really taking the time to prepare and clean each stem is extremely important, not only aesthetically, but also for the health of the arrangement.”
Ideally, you should remove any leaf or growth that would sit in the water, and anything that detracts from the beauty of the flower or greenery. That includes leaves that are crumpled, spotted, or brown, and buds that are frayed, dried, or smooshed. For roses, you also want to remove the guard petals (the petals that surround the exterior) to allow the roses to open and to keep them from looking disheveled.
Finally, all the stem bases should be trimmed at an angle. This allows them to soak up water. You’ll want to re-trim one every other day or so to keep your arrangement vibrant.
“Leaving everything in its original form is a big no no,” says Page. “If you are getting your flowers from a floral boutique, [they may be] cleaned up and ready to go, but if you are getting your flowers elsewhere, beware. Many premade arrangements don’t have this small detail done, and that can really impact your arrangements aesthetic and longevity.”
Creating the Arrangement
Flowers are personal, so as long as your creation puts a smile on your face, that’s all that matters. That said, there are a few rules you can follow to help create a more traditionally beautiful arrangement (in addition to the above).
- The vase should be about one-third the height of your arrangement.
- Greenery should make up roughly one-third of your arrangement.
- Start with a center flower and then start placing greenery and flowers around it.
- Creating general symmetry is the goal, but it doesn’t have to be perfect either.
- You can use wire or tape to help create structure and guide movement.
“Holding the stems up to the vase before you make the cut is important. Try leaving stems a bit longer than you think you need! You can always go back and make something shorter or sit lower in the arrangement, but once it’s cut you can’t go back,” says Page. “Also, moving stems around is totally natural. Sometimes the first iteration of an arrangement is far from its final form. Take the time to see how flowers feel in different places, and don’t be afraid to edit!”
She also says that you shouldn’t be afraid to cut up big clusters of flowers. Spray roses, waxflower, mums — all these flowers have so many little florets that you can break apart and scatter across an arrangement.
Preserving Your Floral Bouquet
In addition to buying high-quality flowers, there are a few other rules you can follow that will help make your arrangement last longer. First, start with a clean, washed base. Page says this is very important since bacteria can build up and stay on the surface from previous arrangements (preparing all your stems helps keep the water clean, too).
Also, change the water out, scrub your vase, and trim your stems at an angle with quality shears every day. Crushed aspirin or flower food can give them some extra oomph, as well. Also, it’s important to keep them out of direct heat and blowing air. They’re fragile and need all the TLC they can get!