How to Create Beautiful Flower Arrangements: 13 Pro Tips
From cutting your flowers at the perfect time to playing with the elements of design, there are so many ways to up your cut flower game. Gardening expert Madison Moulton gives you 13 pro tips for creating captivating flower arrangements straight from the garden.
If you love the beauty of fresh-cut flowers indoors but don’t have the money to spend on weekly bouquets, a cut flower garden is the answer. Trimming flowers straight from your garden is rewarding. These pro tips will help you experiment with design and create your own unique flower arrangements.
If you have never put a bouquet together before, don’t know where to start, or want some design tips to improve your skills, we’ve got you covered.
Cut At The Right Time
Fully understanding the plants in your cut flower garden is the foundation of a beautiful flower arrangement, especially when it comes to the timing of cutting.
Cutting at the right time determines how long your cut flowers will last (along with many other factors), but it also influences how your arrangement is displayed and changes as the flowers open.
It’s best to cut most flowers just as they begin to open. If you cut once they have opened completely, your arrangement will likely fall apart within a few days. On the other hand, cutting too early could mean your flowers don’t open at all.
Before you head into the garden with your pruning shears and bucket, ensure the flowers you want to use are at the perfect point for cutting. If you want to get technical, you can also choose flowers of different types at different stages of maturity, producing a continuously moving and changing arrangement.
Cut Long Stems
When trimming cut flower stems out in the garden, it can be hard to judge the required length, especially when you don’t have your vase handy. Many gardeners make the mistake of cutting stems to the length they assume will fit their vase perfectly, only to find the stems are actually too short once brought indoors.
Height is incredibly important for the visual balance of your arrangement. Having short flowers in a large vase will instantly look off, overshadowing the beauty of the blooms. Similarly, flowers far taller than the vase will disrupt balance (not to mention the struggle of long stems falling out of vases).
It’s generally best to have your arrangement around one and a half times the height of your vase. This is adjustable depending on your chosen vase, but I usually don’t stray too far from this range.
To make it easier to manage height once you bring your flowers indoors, cut stems longer than you think you may need. The more height you have to work with, the easier it will be to assemble an arrangement. Plus, you can always make stems shorter as needed, but you won’t be able to make them longer once cut.
Choose Colors Carefully
There are many elements of design to keep in mind when putting together a floral bouquet, one of the most important of which is color.
Color is usually the first thing we notice in a floral arrangement, truly setting the mood. Bold and dramatic colors instantly catch the eye and create excitement, while neutral or monochromatic palettes have a more natural and minimalist look.
In a sprawling cut flower garden, it’s easy to cut whatever flowers are ready, placing them in arrangements later. Unfortunately, thanks to the variety in our outdoor gardens, this usually leads to an explosion of colors that don’t work together.
To elevate your floral design game rather than simply throwing something together:
- Pare down your color choices and choose your palette intentionally.
- Opt for one or two focal colors, filling in with greenery as a backdrop.
- Pick bright and contrasting colors for a vivid display or hues close to each other on the color wheel to create more harmony.
Don’t Forget Foliage
While you’re still outdoors and cutting your flowers, don’t forget to trim pretty foliage to add to your arrangement.
Flowers are usually the stars of the show, but it’s important to have fillers to maintain balance. If all your flowers are focal points in a mixed bouquet, your eye won’t know where to look.
Choose strong foliage that will last in a bouquet, continuously framing the flowers. Ornamental grasses are also great filler choices, especially if you’re putting together a neutral and textural bouquet. If you don’t have any foliage in your cut flower garden, you can also use tree branches for a more structural and artistic arrangement.
Think Outside The Box
The beauty of growing a cut flower garden and regularly arranging flowers is that you can play around with unique combinations and designs without consequence.
Experimentation will greatly expand your design horizons, allowing you to create unique arrangements you couldn’t purchase in-store. Plus, if something doesn’t work, you can always try again with different combinations in a couple of weeks.
Combine colors, textures, or plants you wouldn’t normally put together, testing how they work together. You can also take it further by incorporating other elements like branches or seed pods that create unique visual interest. The more you try, the better your chances of finding something you’ll fall in love with.
Extend your experimentation time for shorter flowering seasons by drying flowers from your garden. Whether you hang them or try one of the many other flower-drying methods, drying will make your creations last far longer while providing interesting color and texture.
Combine Different Textures
Speaking of texture, this is another element of design to keep in mind if you want your arrangements to be visually captivating. It is an often overlooked aspect of arrangements for beginners, but it can instantly take your display from basic to pro.
Observe the flowers and foliage in your garden and look for contrasting textures. Flowers with soft, organic petals are highlighted by more structural textured foliage. To stray from the standard bouquet, choose flowers with unique textures, like spiked blue sea holly or fluffy teddy bear sunflowers.
Other garden elements, like a roughly textured branch or a collection of berries, will ensure there is something new to look at each time you see your bouquet. You can even add other crafty elements like feathers to create texture.
Finally, don’t forget to consider the texture of your vase, too. Use it, along with the textures of your bouquet fillers, to create a harmonious but visually interesting display.
Match Your Vase Style
Your vase may seem like an insignificant part of the arrangement, simply the vessel that holds the real display. However, your vase will also influence the overall look and can really make or break an indoor floral arrangement.
I am guilty of using whatever I can find when placing cut flowers in a vase (usually a simple glass one). There is nothing wrong with a classic glass vase, but there is so much more on offer when you consider the vase a complete part of your display.
For those growing a cut flower garden always to have some fresh blooms indoors, it’s worth investing in a couple of attractive decorative vases. This allows you to match the vase to your created arrangement for better design harmony.
Prepare The Vase
Once you have your design in mind, it’s time to assemble your arrangement.
Start by preparing your vase (or whatever vessel you put your cut flowers in). You have a few options here to simplify your life and to ensure your stems are arranged and remain just how you want them.
Floral tape is the easiest solution, usually in clear or green colors, to blend in with the stems. Create a grid on the vase’s opening, leaving gaps to slot the stems into. This will stop them from flopping over and creating an empty gap in the center of your arrangement. It’s also helpful for vases with wider openings, as it can be tricky to keep stems upright.
If you have a solid color vase, use floral foam or a flower frog to hold stems in place. Floral foam also absorbs moisture to hydrate the stems and prevent premature wilting.
While preparing, don’t forget to clean your vase thoroughly, especially if there was a bouquet kept in the same container previously. Removing any bacteria now will help the water stay cleaner for longer, extending the life of your cut flowers.
Prepare The Flowers
Next, turn your attention to the flowers to get ready for placement. Prepare the stems by cutting the ends at a 45-degree angle, preventing the stems from sitting flush with the base of the vase to boost water absorption.
When cutting, measure the height of the stems by placing them inside the vase. Avoid cutting all your stems to the same length – you want some difference in height to create a fuller look, even allowing some vines to cascade over the edges if you have them.
Also, strip any leaves that will end up sitting below the water line or impact the overall look of the flowers. Leaves sitting in water will quickly rot, affecting the quality of the water and spreading bacteria.
Place Foliage, Fillers, and Features
When potting up containers, the feature plants usually come first, followed by the fillers. However, when arranging cut flowers, starting with foundational plants first is easier, leaving your features until last. Creating a base will help you place your features better, and you can always fill in gaps as you go.
Start with a base of foliage to create your ideal structure. Then, pop in your filler flowers, leaving gaps for the feature flowers to be placed last. You don’t want them to get lost, so keep taller blooms in the center and shorter ones toward the edges.
Once you’ve placed your flowers, don’t forget to rotate the vase to check that it looks good from all sides. Your vase will be visible all the way around and should provide interest continuously.
Keep Form In Mind
Sticking to the traditional symmetrical display is easy as you arrange your flowers. However, creating your own arrangements also allows you to change up your form.
Asymmetrical arrangements are becoming increasingly popular as florists play with forms that don’t match what you might expect from cut flowers. To join the pros, at least stylistically, don’t limit yourself to a standard dome-like display.
Take a step back and look at the form or shape your overall arrangement makes. Consider changing it up by making one side taller than the other or having trailing foliage or flowering vines hanging out one side of the vase. You could also leave intentional gaps to create negative space or place the vase along the edge of a structure to continue the display downwards or even up the wall.
Nothing is wrong with a classic arrangement, and the contents and vase you choose can still provide plenty of interest. But if you want to turn a simple arrangement into an artistic floral display, form is the way to do it.
Use The Refrigerator
After meticulously curating your arrangement, you don’t want the flowers to wither and die back within a few days.
One of the most effective ways to extend the life of your cut flowers is by placing them in the refrigerator or a very cold room if you can find the space. This keeps the flowers fresh for much longer by slowing the maturing process and retaining moisture. Don’t keep them next to ripe fruits that release ethylene, as this can speed up wilting.
You can also place cut flowers you haven’t yet arranged in paper bags in the fridge, taking a tip from florists. This way, you can cut when the flowers are at the perfect stage and use them as needed without wilting.
Recut The Stems
Along with refrigeration, there are a few other tasks you can complete to ensure your arrangement lasts as long as possible. One of those is recutting the stems. Use sharp, sanitized snips or shears for a clean cut.
A few days after cutting stems, you’ll notice the ends seal up as they attempt to heal. This limits the amount of water the stems absorb, causing the flowers to wilt much quicker.
Remove the stems from the vase every few days and give them a short trim to reopen those moisture transport systems. Change the water simultaneously to keep it clean and help your flowers stay fresher for longer.
You don’t have to be a professional florist to experiment with flower arrangements and floral design. Follow these tips to develop impressive creations that rival the pros.