A survey found that 68 percent of people who bought cut flowers at the grocery store were afraid to arrange them. “They just plunk them in something without even trying to arrange them,” she says. But with a little forethought and effort, a merely adequate arrangement can become a real eye-catcher. And we have put together steps to help arrange flowers.
Step #1: Planning
Before you snip your first stem, think it out. What is this arrangement for and where is it going?
If it’s a centerpiece at a dinner table: Don’t exceed 12 inches in height; you don’t want guests having to peer through a jungle to see the person across the table. If the arrangement will sit against a wall, flowers face outward, in one direction. No need to put on a 360-degree show.
First, choose between glass and ceramic. If you’re worried about how your stems will look and don’t want to incorporate them in the finished work, go ceramic. There are vases in every size and shape. If you’re worried your flowers won’t stand at attention, create a grid across the top of the vase using tape (florist’s tape or even scotch tape will work).
Steps #2 Selecting
If you’re cutting your own, do it early in the morning because they don’t like to be cut during the heat of the day. But flowers from a grocery store’s floral department — this is what most people have easy access to, will work just fine. There is a huge variety to choose from. The most popular are roses, carnations, tulips and gerbera daisies, she says. And you don’t need a lot; An attractive arrangement can be made with three to five flowers.
For an interesting change, there are some flowers that do well underwater and can last more than a week. Hydrangea, tulips, orchids and anything else with a kind of a waxy surface will work. Making it more interesting: The flowers get magnified by the glass container.
Flowers that last longer include alstroemeria, tulips and sunflowers. Two points to remember: Tulips will continue to grow after you’ve put them in a container, and you can eliminate the awkwardness of tall sunflowers – everybody loves them but not everyone knows how to make them look good — by cutting the stems or by weaving them together.
As for colors, it’s up to you.
Steps #3 Cutting
Trim an inch or two off every stem with a clean cut. If it’s a woody stem — hydrangea, for example — split the stem at the bottom. It’ll help the absorption of water.
Expert suggests some overnight prep work on the garbera daisies. She puts a baker’s cooling rack over a bucket of water and stands the daisies in the water, up to their necks. The additional water pulled up by the flower will make it stand up better.
Step #4: Arranging
If it’s a tight arrangement or if you’ve got a tape grid across the top, put the water — room temperature — in the vase first. If it’s a loose arrangement, the water can go in afterward. “I usually try to add flower food, the one that comes one prepackaged at the grocery store,” expert say, “or a couple of drops of bleach.” (Bleach kills bacteria, which can inhibit the flowers’ absorption of water.)
Strip any leaves that would be underwater; they’d just rot and foul the water. Don’t be afraid to shorten the flowers. Many vases are v-shaped to take advantage of a big bunch of flowers. But if the flowers are tall, they can spread over and flop over. Expert prefers square and rectangular containers. Also remember: The closer the heads are to the edge of the container, the fewer flowers you’ll need. So shorten them up.
It usually doesn’t matter what order to place the flowers in the vase. “If I’m using (a lot of) flowers, usually I take the ones that have the woodiest stems or ones with the most support structure first (so) I can balance the others with them.”