10 Floral Arranging Tips for Beginners

Apr 27, 2020

Have you ever cut a bunch of pretty blooms from your garden and then had no idea what to do with them? They just flop over in the vase and look like a mess, nothing like what you imagined. Never fear! With these tips, you can instantly improve what sits on your table. Welcome to the beautiful world of floral arranging! 

1. Create an armature. An armature is anything you put inside the vase to help the flowers stay where you want them. Every vessel has a different shape and may require different materials to help create a bit of structure. I often use floral tape to create a crisscross grid pattern at the opening of the vase. Chicken wire is another popular option.  

2. Clean those stems. Remove any lower leaves or blooms that will fall below the water line. Any greenery left floating around will rot, fast. Flowers do not respond well to dirty water. Another reason to clean stems is to keep them from snagging on other blooms. While arranging, you will be sliding flowers in and out of the vase, shuffling them around to achieve the right look. You don’t want a stem to catch on another and yank out half of your hard work. 

3. Cut stems at an angle. This creates a larger area at the bottom of the stem for the flower to absorb water. Florals drink in all throughout the stem, but mostly at that cut. You also want to avoid a cut from sitting flush against the bottom of the vase, preventing the flower from absorbing as much water. An angled cut keeps the end in open water and drinking happily. 

4. Don't touch the petals. Our skin has lots of oils on it, and fingers are no exception. If petals are exposed to these oils, or whatever else has hitched a ride on your hands, they will wilt faster and can turn brown. Rose petals are especially susceptible to damage. Hold flowers by the stem as much as you can. You may have to adjust petals occasionally, but do so with caution and sparingly.  

5. Hold the bottom of the stem. Whenever possible, try to hold stems as far down as you can. If it snaps, which it sometimes will wherever you are touching it, you don’t want to lose too much length. Hold the stem like a pencil and slowly push into the vase to avoid any damage.   

6. Always start with greenery. Greenery is the foundation of an arrangement. This creates the shape of the entire piece, providing a framework for the following flowers. Our eyes love the look of it, since it more closely matches what we see in nature. Greenery is very useful in covering up mechanics like armatures, and as a bonus, is less expensive than flowers, saving you money.  

7. Use different kinds of greenery. Employ at least two or three different kinds of greenery. This adds more texture and diversity of color. Again, we find this more pleasing to the eye as it looks less stiff and uniform.  

8. Cover your mechanics. It’s jarring to see a bit of chicken wire sticking out of a gorgeous bunch of flowers. Whatever you have used to achieve your look should be covered: wires on stems, glue, tape, etc. Turn your arrangement often to view it from all angles and hide anything that shouldn’t be seen. Keep up that natural look.   

9. Choose odd numbers. This is a very common rule in any sort of design. Humans find groups of odd numbers more pleasing, so use this to your advantage when arranging florals. If you are creating a mixed bouquet with different kinds of flowers, add an odd number of each bloom: one of this, five of that, three of this, etc. Whenever in doubt, go odd. 

10. Arrange large and heavy flowers first. Think about how multiple flowers grow on a plant: blooms a little lower, then higher up the stem are buds. We expect to see this, so a floral arrangement that keeps larger blooms lower will look more normal to us. This also keeps more delicate flowers from getting damaged, as they will be placed last. If arranging carnations and anemones, put those heavier carnations in first so that they don’t damage the more fragile and smaller anemones.   

You don’t have to use every one of these tips all the time, but these tips will help you arrange more efficiently, make your flowers last longer, and help your final product look the very best it can. 

Learn more about which poisonous flowers to look out for here.

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