Oh, spring. Color is in full bloom, the air has a warm tinge, and everyone and their mother is holding some type of event you’re supposed to bring a gift to. Luckily, that’s what floral arrangements were invented for!
Everyone loves getting flowers, but let’s face it, custom arrangements are pricey and sometimes we don’t remember to order them in enough time for the professionals. So, if you’re ballin’ on a budget and don’t always remember that Aunt Sue’s birthday party is the day after your giant work presentation, we totally get you and we have a solution.
Arranging store-bought flowers is easy, cost-effective, and fun! Plus, you’ll get major bragging rights when you tell your friends you did it yourself. #IWokeUpLikeThis
So, how can you be a floral mastermind from the comfort of your own home? Where can you even find flowers that aren’t overdone or too generic? Check it out!
Where to buy unique flowers
There are only so many pre-mixed bouquets of artificially colored daisies, carnations, and babies breath one can receive in their lifetime. Chances are whoever you’re making this arrangement for has reached that number. So let’s give them something unique! Our favorite places for buying flowers are:
The local garden center
Your local garden center is sure to have some interesting finds. On our most recent visit, we were able to pick up some Protea! Unique flowers like these are often in stock at the little shops, and typically small businesses will have competitive prices. Plus, what’s better than shopping small and supporting your local economy?
If you don’t live near a TJ’s, I’m sorry. That truly is unfortunate. We could write books of sonnets professing our love for TJ’s, but even more so our love for their floral department. Their flowers are unique, fresh, and affordable. They also carry a multitude of flowers ranging from traditional red roses to these glorious sherbet Ranunculi!
Whole Foods groceries may be pricier than your local Safeway or Stop & Shop, but their floral department doesn’t disappoint. Funny enough, their flower prices are still on-par with other grocery stores. Plus, where else could you find Peonies this gorgeous so early in spring? Whole Foods is magic.
How to tell if your flowers are fresh
Okay, so now we know where to find our flowers, but how do we tell if they’re going to last? Firstly, how do the flowers look? If there’s significant browning or creasing on the petals, put them down and walk away. How’s their brightness? The brighter the better. If they look dull, chances are they’re at the end of their lifespan. Another thing to check is their bloom. Are they fully bloomed? Have petals started to fall in the water and the floor around them? This is also a sign that the flowers in your hand are almost dead.
Now, how does the water the flowers are in look? Is it brown? Use your nose. Is it stinky? Those are also a no-go. The water should be fresh and clean. How does the flower’s stem look? Any yellowy-brown color? Any slimy residue? You’ll want the stems to be a healthy color and free of slime.
Finally, are the flowers in your hand wrapped in cellophane? Often stores do this to corral the flowers. However, cellophane prevents the naturally occurring ethylene gas from escaping, which leads to decay. If there are no flowers available that are not wrapped, check for all of the other signs of decay above. You can still buy flowers that have been wrapped in cellophane as long as they’re healthy otherwise—just make sure you get them out of there ASAP!
How to actually arrange the flowers
The part you’ve been waiting for! How do you actually arrange these things professionally? Most often, we buy flowers, get home, haphazardly trim the bottoms because some relative told us that’s what you’re supposed to do at some point in our childhood, and stick them in a vase of whatever-temperature-the-faucet-was-on water. #Nope. When we do this we are putting a nail in our flower’s coffin before they even get a chance to flourish. Follow along below for the better way!
Gather everything you need
- Flowers (we opted to use two types for contrast, but you can use as many or as few types as you like)
- Greenery (something to add interest and break up the color)
- A vase
- Copper filament (in cases of droopy stems)
Prep your flowers
The first thing you need to do after gathering your “ingredients” is prepare your flowers to be arranged.
- Strip the leaves: Remove all leaves that will fall below the lip of the vase. Leaves floating in the water will decay and taint the water. Tainted water will travel up the stems of the other flowers and cause them to rot more quickly.
- Cut the bottoms: Every time you change the water in your vase, the bottoms of your flowers must be cut. Over time, the stems form a type of scab that blocks the water from traveling up the stem to the bloom. When cutting your flowers, make sure you cut the stems at a 45 degree angle. This ensures that that stems don’t lie flat on the bottom of the vase blocking water flow, and it exposes more surface area for the water to access the stem.
- Remove outer petals: On flowers like roses, the outer petals serve as a protective layer for the bloom. Often, these petals will appear dull or have areas of damage. Gently pull off these petals to expose more vibrant ones!
- Encourage the blooms to open: Many times, fresh flowers from the grocery store mean that they aren’t fully opened. With some flowers, there’s no specific way to speed up the process. However, with flowers such as roses, you can gently blow on the tops of the petals to encourage them to open up a bit!
Prepare your vase
First, fill your vase midway with room temperature water. (Fun fact: room temperature, or ambient, water is exactly 68 degrees. So, go ahead and take your water’s temperature if you’re nerdy like we are!)
Next, cut strips of tape in half and create a grid across the top of your vase. For larger arrangements, create a larger grid. This grid system helps to corral your flowers and keep them in the place you so carefully chose!
Finally, if you’re using a flower with a stem that isn’t very sturdy, copper will help it to stay more rigid in the vase. Examples of flowers with hollow stems are tulips, hyacinth, and gerbera daisies. If you have copper wire at home, put some in the bottom of your vase. Myth: A penny works the same. Nope! They stopped putting actual copper in pennies in 1982, so your post ’82 penny will not, in fact, do the trick.
Now, on to the fun stuff!
Place your greens
A quick word before we start: there’s no right outcome to the instructions below. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so whatever way you choose to craft this arrangement or place your florals is 100% up to you! This is simply a guide to aid you in the fundamentals of florals. Moving right along.
The greenery you chose will lay the foundation for your arrangement. Start by placing greens in sections of your grid around the perimeter of your arrangement. You can always add more later, but this is a good place to start.
Add in your base flowers
Which flowers do you wish to make up the bulk of the arrangement? We opted to use gorgeous garden roses. Like the greenery, you’ll want to start layering these into your arrangement. Remember, you can always move or add things later.
Did you choose to have other flowers in your arrangement? Here’s where you’ll layer those in. Your arrangement is probably getting quite full at this point, so you may want to move things around a bit.
You’re almost done! After you have a full arrangement, spin it around and see if there are any blank spots. Are there areas that need more or less color? This is where you’ll do you finishing touches. Maybe you want it to look more symmetrical…or less symmetrical. This step is all about making it look the way you want it to.
Pat yourself on the back
Look at you! All that’s left to do is take pictures of your handiwork…
…share your arrangement with a friend…
…or keep it for yourself!
Great job! You’re a floral rock star! Now, one last question to answer:
What do you do with the extra flowers?
Yay! We’re so glad you asked. You can always make some mini arrangements to place around your house or surprise and delight your friends, family, and coworkers with.
Pick your vases
Mason jars, milk bottles, old wine bottles, etc. You can pick anything that will hold a few flowers! Since these are smaller arrangements, there’s no need to do all of that vase prep we did for the larger one.
Add in your flowers
This step will vary depending on how many flowers you have left over! For ours, we did a vase with a single rose, one with all of our flowers, and one with just eucalyptus (it smells so good).
That’s it folks! Happy arranging!