Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, and being able to arrange with colorful fall leaves and branches is one of the reasons why. If you’ve followed my floral arranging business, you’ll know that I’ve used autumn leaves in some spectacularly beautiful fall weddings. Seriously. It’s just so much fun to play off of the gorgeous scenery and create a textural, stunning piece of fall for a bride to hold.
I know everyone is loving the changing fall foliage right now, and if you’re like me, you want to bring a bit of the colorful fun inside. What feels more like fall than a vase full of autumn leaves?
In our Flora Fun Autumn 2020 Box, I demonstrated how to make a beautiful autumn floral arrangement in a shallow vase (which you can see in the pic up above). One of the techniques I covered in the tutorial was how to care for and place branches that are thicker than your typical flower.
To help those branches and leaves last as long as possible, here are some tips about how to cut and arrange with autumn leaves.
How long should I cut the branch?
This depends on your vase, of course. In the Autumn 2020 Box we arranged with shallow vases, but also had little pin frogs in the basin of the vase to help hold up the branches and stems. Since branches are fairly heavy compared to most flowers, they need lots of support. If you don’t have a nifty little pin frog to help out, choose a taller, sturdier vase, and cut your branches accordingly. Big branches can look stunning in a large urn or pot, but if you’re new to arranging with them, I recommend starting with more manageably sized vases and branches and working your way up.
Choose the very tips of bushes and trees to cut from. You want your branches to be as thin as possible to avoid weight issues. You also don’t want them too long. For a fairly average sized vase, my very longest branch was about the length of my arm (and I’m a bit on the short size). From there, vary the lengths. Do leave a little bit of extra length when you cut since you can always trim down a little more as you arrange.
Should I mix plants? Or keep things all the same?
This is an artistic choice, really, but there are some guiding principles that will help your arrangement look cohesive. For the Autumn 2020 Box I used smoke bush branches as the base foliage for a mixed floral arrangement. Fall leaves look fantastic like that! If you want ideas for flowers to use, check out my post about favorite fall flowers to arrange with. You really can’t go wrong with any of them.
For this video tutorial, however, I used only one kind of plant: branches from a dogwood tree. That might sound boring at first glance, but there is an incredible variation of color on even just one plant. I snipped branches ranging from green to copper to a deep, dark brown. That way my arrangement wasn’t too repetitive or complicated, and it looked very natural which is how I prefer my arrangements.
How do I cut woody stems?
Use the same principles as you would for cutting lilac or hydrangea stems. It’s always about getting as much water as possible to the plant. That’s what will help it live a very long vase life.
Flower stems can take in water all along their stems, but woody stems have a more difficult time and generally get most of their water through that single cut on the bottom. That’s why you need to make the cut as steep and sharp as possible. Give it as much surface area as you can. If the branch is thick enough, you can also make a second steep cut on the other side to create a pointed V shape at the bottom. Finally, after completing those steps, I snip right up the middle of the branch, just a little way. This gives the plant the maximum amount of surface area possible to drink up water.
I hope these tips helped! If you have more questions, you can comment on my YouTube video or join the Flora Fun Community on Facebook. We’d also love to see what you create with autumn branches, so post in the Facebook group or tag us on Instagram @florafunbox.
And if this has left you craving a more in-depth tutorial for arranging with fall branches and flowers, you still have time to order our Autumn 2020 Box. Don’t delay, though! The box is only available until October 31st.
Learn something new. Create something beautiful.
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