Florists create perfect fresh flower arrangements with their years of experience, expertise, and lots of specialty equipment and floral foam. For those of us who just want to add a little spring color to the kitchen or brighten up a holiday dinner table, a big expensive professional centerpiece isn’t necessary. Over the years I’ve arranged hundreds of floral vases from both garden flowers and bunches of blooms from the grocery store, and I’ve learned some quick and easy solutions for creating a bouquet to be proud of.
Buy More Flowers or a Smaller Vase
That inexpensive bunch of flowers from the convenience store looks pretty in its cellophane wrapper, but when you get home and plunge it into your favorite crystal vase, it suddenly looks sparse and awkward. The secret to an attractive home arrangement is a tight cluster of flowers, so you’ll want to buy two or three of those premade bunches to get the look you desire.
If you don’t want to spend the extra cash on more flowers, look for a smaller vase, or even a 12- or 16-ounce water glass. Blooming stems from your own garden tend to be shorter and flimsier than store-bought ones, so a smaller vase will serve you well for those arrangements too.
Add Fresh or Fake Greenery
Even the most beautiful combination of fresh flowers can look like it’s missing something after you’ve created your arrangement. That something is greenery. If you pick up multiple bunches of flowers from the grocery store freezer, make sure one of those selections is a cluster of ferns, baby’s breath, or other leafy filler. Wrapping your fresh flowers in greenery adds an attractively varied frame to the bright colors within, and helps fill the empty space in your vase, creating a tighter and more attractive arrangement.
Look for plastic greenery at your local craft store, and invest in something with small and realistic-looking leaves. Dark, flat colors tend to draw less attention to the synthetic materials. Plastic greenery won’t be harmed being kept in water, can be washed and air-dried afterward, and can be used again and again. This saves you money, removing the need to buy fresh greenery for each bouquet.
Cut the Stems Shorter
Just because long stem roses are so impressive doesn’t mean that all flowers should be big, scattered stalks lost in a sea of vase water. Stagger the lengths of the stems instead, with the tallest blooms in the center graduating down to the shortest flowers around the edges. You can also do a one-sided cascade effect, with tallest flowers and greenery at the back down to shorter stems in front. The shortest blooms should be close to the rim of the vase, which once again helps keep everything clustered together in the exact arrangement you want.
An easy way to measure the stems is to place the vase near the edge of a counter or table top. Hold the floral stem up to the vase at the height you want it to appear. The bottom of the vase is equal to the top edge of the counter, so mark the stem with a small cut from a knife or scissors. Then cut the stem at an angle under warm water, trimming it a quarter- to half-inch shorter to allow from the inner contours of the vase.
If it’s a smaller cluster, I like to create the arrangement of flowers in my hand, holding it into the shape I want it to have in the vase. Then it’s easy to hold the whole bunch up to the vase, mark the length the stems should be, and then cut them all at once.