Flower Arranging Tips


Fresh flowers are a small extravagance that bring a touch of elegance and beauty to daily life.  With a little effort and some basic knowledge, a typical grocery store bouquet, which can cost as little as $5, can be stretched into several gorgeous displays that can last for 2 weeks or longer.  Here are some tips that will make them go further, last longer, and look better for the long haul.

Tip #1:  Don’t be afraid to cut long stems.
Long stemmed flowers can be beautiful but I think they look best in large arrangements, like the ones you see in hotel lobbies or restaurants.  In most homes, the arrangement needs to be scaled down and that means cutting the stems to a more manageable height.

Before: This grocery store bouquet has simply been removed from the plastic sleeve and had about an inch trimmed from the stems in order to allow fresh water uptake. It is lovely of course, but lacks fullness and has a spindly appearance.
After: Here, the stems of the same bouquet have been trimmed about 5 inches. The arrangement looks much fuller and more deliberate.


Remember, it is important to always cut at least an inch from the bottom of the stems before placing them in water.  The stems seal over and cannot take up fresh water so re-cutting is vital to keeping them alive. A diagonal cut is more effective that a straight-across cut because it provides more surface for water uptake. Also remember to change the water every day or so to keep bacteria at bay.

Tip #2:  Add elements from your own garden or yard.  While I recognize that those of us with yards are lucky and apartment dwellers may not have the same type of access, it’s possible to gather nature’s bounty just by walking in your neighborhood.  Last December I saw tree trimmers working on our street and noted lots of beautiful magnolia tree branches were being cut and tossed into a chipper.  I immediately ran out and grabbed several branches for my holiday decor!  I’m not advocating breaking any laws, here.  Just use your common sense and if you find a situation where you can legally gather some useful plant materials, go for it!

With a few sprigs of ivy from my yard tucked in, the arrangement now has more fullness, texture and dimension. Be open to all kinds of plant materials. Herbs add fragrance, while a delicate twig would also be lovely mixed in.

Tip #3:  Break up the flowers into several arrangements.  This is one of my favorite tips.  After you have added in extra greenery, you may find that the arrangement has suddenly grown much larger and can be divided into two arrangements.  I feel I have gotten “two for one” when I can get a second arrangement from the same bunch.

I removed a few of the flowers from the original bouquet and placed the remaining flowers in a different container, roughly the same size as the first vase. This container had a wider mouth which enabled me to add more greenery from outside.  When you select flowers, try to find bunches that still have unopened buds to extend the life of your arrangements.
Here’s the second arrangement from the same bunch.  I took the Gerber daisies and a sprig of the chrysanthemums and cut the stems much shorter for a smaller vase. I had camillias in bloom in my yard so I added a few white blossoms to the mix. This smaller arrangement in the bathroom is a cheerful greeting first thing in the morning.
The roses and the initial lily blossoms faded after about a week. These two lily blossoms were just buds the first week. I removed some of the additional greenery I had in the previous arrangement and moved the flowers to a smaller container.

Tip #4  As individual flowers fade, remove them and downsize the arrangement.  Just because a few of the flowers in your arrangement have started to lose their petals or wither doesn’t mean it’s time to toss the entire arrangement!  All you need to do is pull out the bad ones and downsize to a smaller vessel. Remember you can continue to plump up the arrangement with cuttings from the great outdoors.  The picture on the right shows how this same arrangement looked after the first week.

My smaller arrangement in the bathroom evolved as well.  I replaced the camillias and greenery as needed.  The Gerber daisies are slightly less vibrant in color but it otherwise it still looks great. The camillia blossoms tend to fall off every couple of days but since I have an abundance in my yard right now,  I added fresh ones as needed.

Here’s the final arrangement. While not quite as impressive as the first arrangement, it’s not bad given that these flowers are nearly 3 weeks old!

By day 17, the chrysanthemums and Gerber daisies continued to thrive.  I changed up the container again and added fresh greenery.  I got another 4 days out of this arrangement before I had to toss it out.  Three weeks of fresh flowers in my home for about $5?  Now that’s a pretty good deal!!

If anyone has tips on how to keep the cat out of the flowers, please let me know!

3 thoughts on “Flower Arranging Tips

  1. Cats … LoL … Good luck with that. The cat and lack of sunlight in the house is mainly why I can’t buy fresh houseplants! One of these days, I tell myself, he will lose interest. Until then, I am envious of your lovely bouquets. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *