Should I Use a Floral Knife When Arranging Flowers?

Oct 27, 2020

If you spend time snooping online for flower arrangement how-tos, you’ll probably run into floral knives at some point and wonder if you should be using one while arranging. Here’s our short answer: 

Maybe..? But most likely not. 

Super helpful, we know. Like many things in life, this isn’t a simple cut (pardon the pun) and dry issue. Each florist, hobby or professional, will weigh the pros and cons a little differently depending on their situation. So, let’s dig into the long answer and get you the information you need to decide if a floral knife is right for you. 

What is a floral knife? 

Great question! There are different types of floral or florist knives meant for cutting stems. Some are straight blades (often coming in a pack with more than one), some have a curved blade, and some fold in like a pocket knife. All floral knives are extremely sharp and often cheaper than a good pair of florist snips.

Source: Tuscola Agriculture

Why should I use one? 

Cutting a flower stem with dull snips actually crushes it. (That's why you'll never see me telling you to use standard scissors on your flowers.) Using sharp snips helps limit the crushing, but some will still happen, especially as they age and dull. This damage makes it more difficult for flowers to drink up water. We talk about it all the time here, but only because it’s important: getting water to your flowers and greens is the most important thing you can do to help your arrangement look its best and be long lasting. Read more about extending the life of your flowers on this post. 

Floral knives provide a very sharp, clean cut that doesn’t crush the stem. Flowers cut with a knife will last longer and release less gunk into your vase water. That means you don’t have to replace the water as often, which is always a plus. 

Another major benefit is that you can work much faster with a floral knife, once you get used to it. When held correctly, you don’t have to put down the knife while cutting lots of stems. With snips, you have to constantly put them down and pick them back up again, and if you're a busy florist with a lot of flowers to arrange all day every day, the time really does add up! Bonus: a folding floral knife is also much easier to stick in your pocket and transport than other tools. 

Finally, as mentioned earlier, floral knives can be fairly inexpensive compared to other florist tools. If you tend to misplace your tools frequently, a pack of ten floral knives for the same price as another pair of snips might be worth it for you. It’s also something you can try out with little investment up front. 

Why shouldn’t I use one? 

That sharp blade that is so great for cutting stems can also cut right through your fingers. Safety with florist snips is much easier to maintain. If you are that person who misplaces things, think about who shares your space and if having lots of extremely sharp knives hiding about is a good idea. Will children frequently be in your flower workspace or helping with arrangements? Are you accident prone with kitchen knives?  

Using floral knives takes practice. You probably won’t save a lot of time up front until you get the hang of it. If you’re not making a lot of arrangements, investing that learning time to save a small amount of time later might not be worth it.  

Finally, keep in mind that floral knives won’t replace all of your florist tools. If you’re happy with what you’ve got, why reinvent the wheel?  

How do I use a floral knife? 

There are some fantastic tutorials about using floral knives out there. This YouTube video gives a great overview of how to do it with your fingers kept out of the way. Or you can wrap your fingers around the handle like this article demonstrates (although we do recommend AGAINST using floral foam as they suggest). Basically, you hold the floral knife handle across your palm, keep your fingers out of the way, and pull the blade toward you across the stem to cut. It's very similar to how you might cut broccoli or peel an apple.

Always cut at an angle. Always use a sharp knife. Never use your knife for anything other than cutting stems (other uses will dull the blade). Floral knives are best for soft stems. Once you have a little more experience with them, you can try cutting slightly sturdier stems with a knife, but leave really thick or woody stems for other tools, just as you would spare your floral snips from those woody branches.

Can I use any knife to cut stems? 

Yes, but no. There are definitely knives out there not made specifically to cut stems that will do a great job. The benefit of buying a floral knife is that it ticks all the boxes for what works best. Before you pick up any old knife to cut flowers, make sure that it is sharpened, isn’t serrated, and is a comfortable size for holding in your palm. And because many flowers are grown with the use of pesticides and herbicides that are not approved for edible plants, and because some flowers like daffodils are actually poisonous, I recommend against using a knife that will be later used for food preparation. Dedicate your knife to floral arrangements only.  

So there's the skinny on floral knives. If you're a hobby florist, you can skip them and be just fine. Even professional florists often choose not to use them. 

But if you do try using a floral knife, we’d love to hear about your experience. Love it? Hate it? Still have questions? Ask us the Flora Fun Community on Facebook or tag/message us on Instagram @florafunbox. 

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