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  • Writer's pictureMay

Five Secrets to Arranging Flowers

Buy cheap tulips. Chop off a little of the stems. Put in a vase with some water.

Sound familiar? This is how many people arrange flowers, and though there is nothing wrong with it -- a bouquet can be so much more. And while we would be honoured to be the ones to arrange your flowers for you, we want to spread the beauty around as much as possible. Which is why we wanted to share some of the best tips and tricks to taking flowers from “in a vase” to an actual floral arrangement.

Stick with simple

If you are a beginner at flower arranging, it can be helpful to stick with one colour. Just make sure that you pick flowers of varying textures for depth and interest. If you are going for a more colourful arrangement, you might want to consider higher contrasting colours, so each bloom appears distinct. Look for flowers in different shapes and sizes to offer as much differentiation as possible.

Although it can be tempting to add every beautiful bloom you see to your bouquet, it will look best if you maintain some focus. Aim for 3 or four different flowers and 1 or 2 foliage’s – it’s easier to manage if you keep to under 6 types of stems.

Consider the vase

Although the look of your vase is important for aesthetic reasons alone, there is more to choosing a vase. The vase should both fit your flowers and the space it will inhabit.

In terms of flowers, taller vases are obviously best suited for taller stems, and shorter vases for shorter or more flexible stems (or even as a second bouquet for flowers that needed to be trimmed in the main bouquet). Consider the proportions as well, for both the flowers you are using and where the bouquet will be showcased. If you are looking for one bouquet to stand out on a large mantel, you will want to consider a larger vase, and flowers to match. A small side table, in contrast, would look off balance with a large bouquet.

In terms of flowers, a great rule of thumb when thinking of a vase are proportions: the entire arrangement should be about 2.5 times as tall as the vase itself for a tall vase, and 1.5 for a small vase. If you are using a 10-inch-tall vase, for instance, your whole arrangement will look more pleasing to the eye at about 25 inches. If you are using a small 5-inch cube, keep your bouquet to about 7.5 inches tall.

Don’t skip prep work

It’ easier to maintain the shape and beauty of your bouquet and individual flowers if you strip off excess leaves before starting. This keeps bulk from the base of the bouquet – you don’t want stems being smashed or damaged by forcing too much material into the vase. And it keeps excess plant material from adding bacteria to the water (and shortening your arrangement’s lifespan).

Prepare all of your stems, both flower and foliage/filler, and lay them out beforehand. You want to get a good look at the size, colour, shape and condition of your material, so you can make decisions about what will go where. Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle (ideally with floral shears). Clean your vase thoroughly. The more you put into the preparation phase, the longer your bouquet will last. (You can read more about how to make your flowers last longer here.)

Start big

Pick your biggest and best blooms for the center of your arrangement. If you are going high, put these ones on the lower side of the bouquet. Flowers, just like plants, will seek the sun, and it can change your arrangement significantly. Anchoring your bouquet with the larger blooms will help prevent too much distortion, as well as create a focal point. Add your tighter and smaller blooms in last and on the outer areas of your arrangement to create natural movement. Place your stems one by one and make sure they are touching the water.

Don’t focus too much on symmetry, but instead on balance. You don’t need to match flowers on each side (and how could you, when they are all so perfectly unique!) Look at colour and size and consider what would balance the shape, left to right and top to bottom.

Consider the shape

If you are looking to create a neat, classic shape, consider the spiral: start with your biggest blooms in the middle and slant each stem against the previous one. Place each row of flowers slightly lower than the previous one to create a subtle dome shape, and then tie with florist twine before putting into your pre-selected vase.

If you want your vase to look neat without tying it off, you might want to try using thin floral tape to make a grid on the top of the vase. This helps to keep your flowers positioned where you want them and can make it significantly easier to hold the desired shape.

If you are going for a more linear or wild look, still consider the tips on proportion and balance above. Consider where the flowers will be showcased before you worry too much about every angle of the bouquet – if you are setting them on a shelf, you might only have to consider the aesthetics of the front. This can save you some money as well!

Flowers are going to make your space look more beautiful and more alive, regardless of how expertly they are arranged. But with a little effort, you can create a truly stunning centerpiece. Of course, you can also leave the arranging to us!

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