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How to Make a Floral Arrangement

September 01, 2021
Two women in a flower shop with a bouquet in a vase

One thing we are likely to agree on is a beautiful floral arrangement makes a space more inviting. After all, why wouldn’t a bright yellow sunflower or hot pink hydrangea boost your mood? There’s just something joyful about flowers. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional florist to put together a stunning arrangement. We’ve put together some simple tips that go beyond plopping flowers in a vase that will help you perfect the art of DIY floral arranging.

1. Decide on a color scheme

Like any other DIY project, it’s always best to have a plan before you start. Brainstorm and find inspiration for what you want your final arrangement to look like before you go shopping. You can create a mix of complementary colors that will pop against each other or choose a monochromatic scheme that will showcase the variety of hues within a single color. While you can be super methodical with this planning process, you really can’t go wrong when pairing flowers. Trust your gut, pick your favorites, and see how you can make them come together. If you get tunnel vision when making your selections, you may miss out on some beautiful candidates.

Farm style table with flowers in metal buckets

2. Pick your flowers

There are three types of flowers you should include in your arrangement: spillers, fillers, and thrillers. Spillers are the plants and flowers that flow over the container’s edge and soften the arrangement’s appearance. Fillers are the foliage and flowers that add mass and texture without stealing the show – baby’s breath, Queen Anne’s lace, ferns, eucalyptus, etc. Last but not least are the thrillers. These are the big focal flowers and star of your arrangement – roses, tulips, and peonies – the large single blooms on the end of a stem.

If possible, go with locally grown, seasonal flowers. Not only are they a greener alternative to imports, but they typically last longer and are fresher given they are 2-3 days old compared to 7-10. Look for blooms that are just starting to open, have solid stems, healthy leaves, and firm petals.

3. Cut and prepare flowers

As tempting as it is to start arranging the minute you get home, it’s important to prep your flowers before you begin. Start by removing extra leaves, any damaged petals, and anything wonky from the stems (thorns, bumps, dead spots). Once you’ve cleaned them up, cut the stems at an angle, at least an inch from the bottom using garden shears – even shorter if needed depending on the vase. Immediately place them in water after cutting even if it’s not into your final vessel. You’ll want to re-cut the stems every two to three days and change the vase water as well. This eliminates bacteria and opens up the stem so that the flowers can absorb fresh water and flower food.

4. Choose a vessel

The most important part of your floral arrangement actually has nothing to do with flowers – it’s all about the vessel you put them in. If you don’t have the right foundation, your arrangement won’t stay in place, or worse, you run the risk of it falling over completely. Almost any material can be used to display your floral arrangement – glass, metal, pottery – and can come in any size and shape. Consider your original theme and choose a container that supports your vision. Make sure your selection is proportionate to the flowers and the overall size of your final piece. The vase should make up one half to one-third the size of the total arrangement and should hold the appropriate amount of water required for your flowers.

Flowers on a table in a variety of vases

5. Prepare the vase

You need to create a solid foundation within your vessel to support the flowers. To make sure your flowers stay in place, create a grid across the top of your vessel with floral tape. Stick the stems through the holes in the grid to keep them in place. Skip the green floral foam – it uses microplastics and is currently non-recyclable – and go with a greener alternative like a marble base or chicken wire. You can also purchase an insert with pins, called a floral frog, where the stems can be stuck in. Use florist clay to adhere it to the bottom of the vessel and press down to make sure it’s secured in place.

6. Create a base

You’ve done your due diligence and have finally reached the point in the project where you can start adding some greenery and there’s no better place to start than the base of your arrangement. These are your spillers – ivy, eucalyptus, and fern fronds. By starting here, you’ll quickly begin to set the shape for your arrangement. Use the stems of the greenery to create an inverted triangle so not only will your arrangement be tall and grand, but have a horizontal presence as well. Your greenery should feel substantial, but it’s not the star so don’t overcrowd your vessel. Less is more and if you get to the end and feel like something is missing, you can always come back and add as needed.

7. Add focal flowers

Now for the drama – it’s time for the focal flowers. Grab an odd number of flowers (this helps things appear more natural and less symmetrical) and hold them vertically between your thumb, index finger, and third finger. The lower on the stem you hold, the wider the circumference your arrangement will be. Work in a circle (use a Lazy Susan if you have one!) and turn the vase as you go to ensure the arrangement is balanced. For a more tailored look, keep the blooms at the same height as you create this spiral of flowers. If you prefer more wild and rustic, you can vary the heights as you add them in.

Rustic flowers in a metal bucket on a farmhouse table

8. Add filler flowers

You have your greenery foundation, you’ve got your star focal flowers, now it’s time for the supporting pieces. Add smaller flowers – Queen Anne’s Lace, white Astrantia, pink spray roses – and textural elements in the arrangement to fill around the focal flowers. Stay in the rule of odds by combining in groups of three or five to create clustering. Don’t place the supporting flowers straight up or to the sides, think of the arrangement like a dome. Continue to work in a circle as before and repeat until all flowers have been added. You need to fill in all angles of the dome for it to look complete and have a soft, full look.

9. Add the finishing touches

The final step of your arrangement is to incorporate a touch of whimsy. You can add natural elements like grasses, berries, or branches or thematic pieces such as raffia, ribbon, even floral glitter – whatever will tie your arrangement together to meet your vision. When you’re ready to display, give your flowers a light spritz of water to mimic the look of fresh dew.

Festive tablescape with food, drinks, and stunning flowers

And just like that you have your very own beautiful floral arrangement! Whether you’re making this for your own home or to gift to someone else, you’re sure to bring joy wherever these blooms end up. If you’re looking for more design advice, homebuying insights, or moving tips and tricks, the Brookfield Residential blog covers it all. Be sure to follow along for more!