Arrangements 101 - You Can Do This!

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Posted by @haighr on
Have you ever seen an arrangement and thought , "That is the prettiest thing I have ever seen, I could never do that!" Well, you were wrong, now you can!

You just need a few basic steps to start making professional arrangements and astound your friends and family with your beautiful creations at a fraction of the cost of those bought in stores.   

 Tools of the Trade

There  are many tools of the trade available, we will begin with the basics:



Container – Use your imagination; try anything from an old toothbrush holder to a straw hat!

Cutting shears – Get yourself a nice sharp pair, not the ones you use in the kitchen or to cut up credit cards, as they are usually too dull.

Floral tape – Used to make a crisscross grid across the opening of the container to create sized openings in which you insert the stem to hold the flower in a perfect position

Oasis – Commonly called flower foam, the green spongy material you put inside the vase to hold the stems. (Flower frogs are another option.

Floral preservative (optional)– concoction added to the water to keep flowers fresher longer; it can be purchased or you can make your own.
Mix 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of plain household bleach, 2 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice and a quart of lukewarm water. Personally, I just use lukewarm water and change it every day. The problem with the preservatives is they react differently depending on the flower.

Tool holder – Be inventive, use an old purse or beach bag, something you can easily tote.


Flowers – Strong stems are the easiest to work with: zinnias, roses, alstromeria and dahlias, to mention a few. Light airy blooms make for good fillers: baby’s breath or coreopsis. Pick them with a bit of foliage as this can add interest above the water line. Select flowers that will compliment your container (for instance don’t use huge-headed blooms in a tiny vase, they will overpower your design).

 Source of FlowersSelect from the following:

1. Artificial flowers are great for beginners because you can practice several times over with the same ones.

2. Planting your own cutting garden is the most cost efficient source of cut flowers. When using annuals for cuttings you can harvest the seed and plant the following year. If you don’t have access to an area for planting perhaps you know someone who would allow you to garden an area on their property.

3. One plan I have for retirement is to volunteer at a local nursery and perhaps be rewarded with a chance to work arrangements with their cuttings. Another option is to contact your local florist for bargains or just pick up a bouquet of cuttings at the local market.

Share examples of your cutting garden.

Check out the list of long-lasting blooms.

Choose a Container

Select the right container for the job. Decide what shape you want to design and select a container that fits. Shallow containers or baskets work as a good base for angled shapes. Deeper containers work for towering arrangements. There are several basic shapes for arrangements.

2010-03-21/haighr/b6647bClick to Enlarge

When you are selecting the container keep in mind the flowers you have selected. The rule of thumb is that the height of the overall arrangement should be 1 ½ times the height of the container.
Example: If the vase is 6” – (6" x 1.5 = 9") the overall arrangement finished height should be (6" vase + 9" ) = 15 inches.
Thus you would want stems cut at least 15".

Putting it All Together

Let’s keep it simple and start with a triangle shape in a vase about 6” tall.

• Use the floral tape to crisscross the top of the vase making (2-3 strips running both ways)

• Fill vase with luke-warm water and add preservative (optional)

• Re-cut the stem at an angle underwater – Cutting the stem underwater ensures that no air enters creating bubbles that prevent the flow of water – cutting at an angle creates a larger opening so the stem can absorb the maximum amount of water.

• Remove any leaves that might fall below the water line - Leaves in the water give off ethylene, a gas that expedites decay and reduces container life.

• Insert the first flower in the middle of the back of the vase (it should stand about 15” high overall)

• Cut two more flowers slightly shorter than the tall one and place one on the left and one on the right of the central flower. Put another flower in the middle along the bottom line between the two side flowers toward the front -You should now recognize the triangle shape.

• Now to fill in – add more flowers one at a time placing them between the tall and side flowers working your way down the triangle (these may be staggered slightly shorter than the middle and side flowers). Place a tall one just slightly shorter than the back one right in the center.

• Finally fill in any blank spaces with greenery or very small flowers such as baby’s breath. Nothing should be outside the form of the triangle; if it looks a bit sparce add a few more flowers! If you like the way it looks you’re finished.

• Once you feel you have mastered the triangle form, try other shapes using the same concept.


Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Comments and Suggestions by haighr Apr 20, 2020 12:54 PM 7

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