2. When perusing the market or corner store, make sure the flowers you’re buying don’t already have one foot in the grave.
3. Check closely to see if they’re beginning to wilt.
Ideally, there should still be a few green buds in the mix, and petals should feel firm and have no brown edges.
4. Keep an eye out for blooms that fit one of these three descriptions:
- Branchier things, like lilacs, lilies and cherry blossoms
- Attention grabbers, sometimes called “face flowers” (think peonies and roses)
- More delicate, gestural varieties, like ranunculus or anemones (if it looks kinda like it’s waving at you, that’s a good sign).
Picking out at least one type of flower in each of these categories will help give your final arrangement a nice sense of shape and balance.
6. Don’t be afraid to think outside the bucket.
A potted rose bush can be an unexpected source of some very pretty little blooms, if you don’t mind getting hands on with it.
7. Unwrap your bunches and have a little grooming sesh, getting rid of any dead or broken blooms and petals.
8. Your flowers will be thirsty, so give them a drink right away.
Cut each stem by at least one inch at an angle using a sharp knife, scissors, or clippers and place them in fresh, clean water.
9. The fewer leaves that are left below the waterline in your vase, the better.
Leaves steal nutrients from blooms and can also rot and cause the water to get nasty faster. Be sure to pull off that extra greenery.
10. Most flowers do best in lukewarm water, which is easier for stems to absorb.
An exception is bulb flowers like tulips and hyacinths, which should always be placed in cold water.
11. Choose a vase.
When selecting a vase, be mindful of the width of its neck — too wide and your arrangement will look sad and sparse; too narrow and the stems will be stiff and uncomfortable. When in doubt, a classic glass canning jar often does the trick. And remember: single stems arranged in an assortment of smaller, mis-matched bottles can have just as much impact as a larger arrangement.
12. Get creative with containers.
Check out junk shops and flea markets for teapots, vintage tins, and unusual bottles.
13. Begin by placing two or three of the more branchy flowers in your vase.
This will help you start to get an idea of the overall shape you want your arrangement to take. Remember, you want to create a sense of width as well as height, so really work those angles.
14. Now start adding those gorgeous face flowers one at a time, again at differing heights.
Try placing one big bloom right on the edge of the vase, and one at least an inch or two higher. If it looks like your bouquet is growing a pair of eyeballs, give one of those stems a snip - you don’t want your vase to stare back at you.
15. Turn your vase often and consider your work from different angles.
Even if your final arrangement will be up against a wall or set in a corner, you want it looking fine from all sides.
16. Continue filling out the arrangement, adding in flowers one at a time.
Go slowly, and don’t be afraid to take something out and start again if it’s not working. No one will judge. When you feel like your masterpiece may be almost finished, try adding in two or three of those longer, gestural stems at an unexpected height or angle to pump up the drama. Experiment and have some fun!
17. Be sure to keep the water in your vase fresh by changing it daily, and trim stems periodically to help them stay hydrated.
And remember: when your flowers do finally die, it just means you get to buy new ones :)
- Nicholas Winton, who saved more than 650 Jewish children from the Holocaust, died at 106.