Flower arranging may be one of the world’s oldest and widespread arts. It was practiced as early as 2500 BCE in Egypt, and there is evidence of it in most civilizations, ancient and modern, since then. In the 21st Century, the growing popularity of DIY projects and the revival of home gardening have again brought this fun and fulfilling practice back into vogue. If you want to get in on this hot new hobby, here are a few things you will want to do:
1. Gather Your Tools
You don’t need much to get started with flower arranging, but a few basics are necessary:
Sharp shears or scissors:
You can buy floral shears made specially for flower arranging, but regular garden shears or even scissors can work. Just make sure they are sharp enough to make a clean angled cut on each stem, which will allow the flowers to take up water efficiently, and to strip the leaves from the bottom of the stems. Leaves should never be allowed below the water line as they will rot and dirty the water.
Floral tape, foam, wire and frogs:
These materials are designed to sit in or on the top of your container to hold stems separated and in place.
What is appropriate as a container for your flower arrangement is only limited by your imagination. Anything from traditional vases to homey mason jars to found items like old tea kettles and buckets can make a base for your creation. It just needs to hold water! You can also arrange your flowers in a simple water-tight vase and place that in a larger container such as a mason jar inside a scraped out pumpkin or hollow log.
Gardening gloves (optional):
If working with roses or other plants with stickers or thorns, you can use your regular gardening gloves to protect your hands.
2. Choose Your Flowers
You may be limited by what’s growing in your garden or what is available at the supermarket, but there are plenty of ways you can mix and match to get exactly the effect you want. Here are a few ideas:
You won’t go wrong if you stick to a family of colors for your arrangement: pastels for a bridal shower, earth tones for a fall harvest display, warm colors for an easy summer bouquet. But don’t be afraid to add one outlying color as an accent (red holly berries in an arrangement of Christmas greenery), to go monochromatic (a big bunch of purple tulips for Mothers’ Day), or to mix a rainbow of color in one vase (multi-hued zinnias, bright sunflowers and vibrant delphinium in a cheery get-well-soon display).
The loveliest floral arrangements make good use of greenery, both the leaves on the flowers themselves and favorites like ferns, ivy and ruscus. You can also consider incorporating tree branches, grasses, herbs and other surprises into your work, to vary the texture and increase its originality.
Some love the heady perfume of a bunch of roses or freesia. Others are made ill by even the smallest whiff of floral scent. Make sure you are sensitive to those who might suffer from allergies or aversions when you are putting together arrangements for others or to display in public places.
3. Arrange Your Bouquet
There are as many ways of putting together a pleasing floral display as there are flower arrangers. But, floral design does follow some basic design principles. Here are the traditional rules of creating an attractive, well-balanced floral arrangement to help guide you.
Height and width:
Most professional florists stick to the simple rule of thumb that the height and width of the arrangement should be 1 1/2 to 2 times the height and width of the container holding the flowers.
Three levels of the arrangement:
As you begin to place your flowers in the container, make sure you pay attention to getting fullness and balance. The top part of your arrangement should be composed of your flower heads and tall dramatic branches or grasses. The middle should include foliage or smaller flower filler, and to balance out the overall proportions, use some ivy or other trailing plant to create a cascade of flowers or foliage over the lip of vase.
Many favor flower arrangements are balanced from left to right, both in weight and color. If you fall into that camp, pay attention to where the bouquet will eventually be placed. If it is in the middle of a table, for example, all sides will need to be coordinated, but if it’s against a wall, you need only work on left, middle and right.
While symmetrical floral displays are the most traditional, there is great beauty in a less rigid design. Try to capture the energy of a field of wildflowers or the exuberance of an English cottage garden in your next flower arrangement.
4. Go a Little Wild
Try these alternates to more traditional flower arrangements:
- Miniature flower arrangements
- Unusual vases, like tea or egg cups, rainboots or burlap bags
- One or two flowers or branches only
- Dried flowers
- Floating flowers
Now that you’ve put the work into creating your own, unique floral display, make sure it lasts a good long while. Check out our tips on how to keep your cut flowers fresh.