Arrange Flowers Like a Pro: 10 Secrets That Might Put Your Florist Out of Business

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Everyone loves to receive flowers. But ordering from the florist can be expensive, and most people are too intimidated to assemble their own arrangements. Great news – creating a swoonworthy floral arrangement is easier than you might think. Just follow these tried and true steps that take the mystery out of making beautiful, professional-looking floral creations.

Arrange flowers like a pro
(Jonathan Fong)

Things You'll Need

  • Glass vase
  • Flowers
  • Large leaves
  • Tape
  • Water
  • Lemon-lime soda
  • Bleach
  • Sharp floral shears
  • Stapler
Step 1

The magic of perfect floral arranging happens before flowers even go into the vase. Start by selecting the right amount of flowers. The trick is to look at the opening of your vase, and then purchase enough blooms to make up four times the surface area of that opening. Many people also are uncertain about how to mix and match colors. The simplest solution is to go monochromatic. Just select three to five flower types in the same color family.

Selecting flowers
Jonathan Fong
Step 2

The ideal water environment for cut flowers has some acid to help move water up the stems, sugar to feed the flowers, and an antibacterial agent. Lemon-lime soda contains both the acid and sugar, while household bleach is a good bacteria killer. Fill a clean vase about three quarters of the way with one part lemon-lime soda and three parts water, and add one teaspoon of bleach per quart of water.

Preparing the water
Jonathan Fong
Step 3

You will notice that most florist-created arrangements do not show the flower stems. Opaque ceramic vases hide the stems, but glass vases do not. Therefore, lining a glass vase with leaves gives the arrangement a professional touch. Use large flat leaves like aspidistra, the common house plant seen in the example. The water in the vase amplifies the leaves like a magnifying glass for a beautiful effect.

Line the vase with leaves
Jonathan Fong
Step 4

To help all the flowers stay in position, create a grid of tape on top of the vase. Pictured in the photo is green floral tape, but regular household tape will also work. The tape that is visible at the rim will be covered later with flowers.

A tape grid to keep flowers in place
Jonathan Fong
Step 5

Now, let's prepare the flowers. Remove any foliage from the stems that will be in the water. Any leaves left on the stems will get soggy and form bacteria.

Remove foliage
Jonathan Fong
Step 6

Using sharp floral shears, cut the stems at a diagonal so there is more surface area for water to travel up the stems. Do not use household scissors, which will crush the stems. (Floral shears are available in most crafts stores.) It's best to cut the stems under running water or a basin of water to prevent air from going into the stems, as the air will block water absorption.

Cut the stems at an angle
Jonathan Fong
Step 7

The actual positioning of the flowers in the vase is what intimidates most beginners, but there is a simple trick that removes a lot of the guesswork. The secret to a professional-looking arrangement is to group the same type of flower together, rather than mixing them up. Assign certain sections on the tape grid for each flower type, and place the flowers within those sections.

Group the same types of flowers together
Jonathan Fong
Step 8

Work from one side of the vase to the other, filling in sections of the tape grid as you go. The flowers that are around the perimeter of the vase should be cut shorter to cover the rim, while the middle flowers should be taller. This creates a dome shape in which the stems are not visible.

Create a dome shape
Jonathan Fong
Step 9

If you have more aspidistra leaves, fold them in half and staple them to create loops. Then place these curled leaves in the last section of the vase. These leaves grouped together resemble a bow.

Add leaves
Jonathan Fong
Step 10

The final touch to a professional arrangement is a unifying element that ties it all together – while filling in any empty spaces. In this example, hypericum berries in the same color family punctuate the arrangement in various spots. Even though the flowers have been separated by type, the berries blur the boundaries for a gorgeous, cohesive arrangement. Now you've got a beautiful arrangement that looks like it came straight from the florist!

The final touch
Jonathan Fong

Tips & Warnings

  • Refresh the water every day to keep it clear and free from bacteria.
  • When you refresh the water, recut stems to allow water to be absorbed.
  • Keep the arrangement in a cool environment away from direct sun.
  • Be careful when working with bleach, as it will discolor your work surface and clothing.
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