In this post: This lazy girl’s guide to creating floral arrangements is chock full of shortcuts and tips for styling easy but beautiful bouquets. ⇒
I often start a project with the best intentions…
…and then leave them behind not far into the project.
Like that meal I was going to prepare completely from scratch including the homemade sauce, bread and all.
The truth is, once you get into a project you realize done is better than perfect. You want the delicious homemade meal, but a few shortcuts make the whole endeavor more realistic.
This is exactly my approach when it comes to arranging flowers.
Yes, I’ve bought the bricks of floral foam and all the other flower-arranging accoutrements. But nine times out of ten… well, actually, ten times out of ten – I ditch the formality and go the easier route in putting together an arrangement.
This doesn’t mean I don’t respect the process or scrap all efforts at creativity. But I have developed a few timesaving alternatives that make flower arranging a lot simpler.
Today I’m sharing my secrets and tips in this “Lazy Girl’s Guide to Creating Floral Arrangements”.
I’m also joining with my blogging besties to bring you our best tips for styling flowers. So be sure to scroll down to the bottom and visit all the other posts.
Determine Your Composition
The first step in creating a beautiful floral arrangement is planning. Whether you are decorating a centerpiece for the table, complementing the decor of your living room, or adding an uplift to the island in the kitchen, having some idea of the look you want, if not a very specific concept in mind, is key.
What you want to avoid is arriving at the flower market and staring into an abyss of blooms, not knowing where to start. So you should arrive equipped at the very least with an idea of a color palette, size and shape.
Will you want an arrangement of all one flower and if so do you want a base of greenery? Do you want a monochromatic bouquet with various types of flowers but in shades of only a single color? Or will you go multi-color and if so, what are your favorite pairings?
At the same time, leave yourself open to working with what is available. While it needs to fit with your plan, don’t be so rigid that you wind up picking the wrong colors of the right flowers. A little flexibility will go a long way.
Some tips on composition and selecting flowers:
- If you’re matching a tablescape or room decor, take a photo of it with you. If your dishes are a rosy pink and you buy fuchsia blossoms it can throw everything off.
- Going multi-color? Select a few colors that balance nicely. I like to pair clean colors together or all pastels. Mixing dusty tones with brights will cause an uncomfortable tension that’s not always pleasant.
- A single color arrangement looks great with varied heights, shapes, and textures.
- Always take some of the greenery they offer you with your flowers. You can make a separate display of all greens if it doesn’t work in your floral assortment.
- If the market has slim pickings, you can never go wrong with a single flower type in a lovely vase. Just be sure to buy enough of the one flower for a full display.
Prep the Flowers
Once your blooms are selected and purchased, you’ll need to prep them before you can even think of starting to arrange them.
- Clean off any damaged petals and leaves.
- Trim away leaves that will be below the water line. If your bouquet will be dense, you may want to remove all of the leaves.
- Cut the stems on a diagonal to expose them to as much water as possible.
- Make sure your stems are not too long. The blossoms should be visible just above the top of your container (but be sure to account for varied placement in the vase. The outer edges can be a bit shorter).
- Fill the vase with water and add plant food. If you want the blossoms to open quickly, use very warm water.
Select a Container
Almost anything can be used as a container for flowers, from a standard vase to a vintage garden urn to a basket, bowl or anything else with a spot for tucking things. If the vessel isn’t waterproof, you can insert a glass or plastic holder. You can even use mini water vials on each stem if your container can hold no water at all.
Some container ideas include:
- Glass or crystal vases and pitchers with wide, fluted or narrow tops.
- Stone or cast iron urns with glass or plastic inserts.
- Wooden dough bowls with water vials on the stem ends.
- Rattan baskets in all shapes and sizes, including a market basket.
- Other decorative objects like candle holders, ice buckets and wine caddies.
Choose an Arranging Method
Up until this point, my tips are pretty much the same whether you plan to use the most labor-intensive formal styling techniques or if you plan to just plop the blooms in a vase, and let them fall where they may. It’s the arranging method that offers the greatest advantages in terms of ease and shortcuts. Below are several options including my favorite little secret, the rubberband method.
- The most formal technique is using flower foam, soaked in water, inserted into the bottom of the container and building your arrangement by tucking the stems into the foam. This will yield a large display that will stay put, but it requires more flowers and takes time to complete.
- Next there is the tape method in which you create a grid at the top of the vessel with criss-crossed rows of tape which you then insert the stems into. This is a fairly reliable way to keep your flowers in place without strict rigidity and it’s way quicker than the foam method.
- You can also try a flower frog or chicken wire, which will serve a similar function to the tape grid, but place it deep inside the vase rather than at the top.
- My favorite little secret involves nothing more than a rubber band and I picked it up from a professional florist whom I used to buy flowers from. If you consider even taping the top of the vase too much work, this method is for you, as it takes no time! Just create a nice arrangement in your hand, tucking in the various flowers. Once you have a nice mix, trim the stems to an even length and put a rubber band around the bunch. That’s it! Then drop it in a vase and you’re good to go. You may need to clip it a few times to get the right length, but it will stay in place and no one will be none the wiser… 😉
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Add the Blooms
Whichever method you choose, you need to add the flowers in one at a time to get a nice layout with movement, a mix of color and pretty highs and lows. Even with the rubber band method, you might start arranging in the vessel and then take the cluster out to secure it.
Some tips on placing the flowers:
- Start by adding the most dominant flowers first. These are the ones that are either the largest, most colorful or bearing the most interest. Use an odd number and assort them randomly.
- Next add in the secondary flowers to fill in the openings. Place some in clusters and some singularly for a more natural look.
- Keep turning the arrangement to be able to view from all sides.
- Add bits of greenery to soften the edges.
- Finish off with highlights of accent flowers – pops of taller stems or grasses to poke out here and there and drape over the vessel edges.
- Always buy the freshest flowers you can find. Quality blooms will open wider and last longer.
- Mist the arrangement with water to keep it looking healthy.
- Be sure to refill the vessel with water as needed.
- Pull out drooping or faded stems and re-fluff to keep it going longer.
- Certain stems will need to be cut again, particularly tulips, as they continue to grow. A fresh cut and hot water can perk up fading blooms, as well.
I absolutely adore flowers and try to keep fresh ones in my house at all times. But my bouquets never take long to create and I use these easy, simple methods even when styling a house full of flowers for a party.
As I said, done is better than perfect!
Maybe I can return the floral foam?
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