Monday, May 1, 2023

Stop Wasting Money on Wilting Bouquets! Learn How to Arrange Your Fresh Flowers Like a Pro & Make Them Last

Fresh flowers add so much coziness and cheer to my house (and...distract visitors from the messes, score), but they can be tricky. There's nothing worse than the "grocery store bouquet jammed in anything that holds water vibe"...except maybe when they die a few days later and your table is empty and boring again.

But we can fix that!

The Ultimate Florist-Backed Guide to Fresh Flower Arrangements! The photo features a yellow and white flower arrangement in a large vase, styled on a kitchen table.As someone who loves keeping fresh flowers in my home, I've learned a few tricks over the years that I've confirmed with an actual florist! Yep - I have an in. One that I can text 24 hours a day with all of our burning floral questions.

(She'll 100% ignore me if the text comes through at 3am, but I can still send it. Not that I have 3am flower questions, but she's my little sister sooo, bugging her is kinda my job.)

I made her answer at least 50 questions last week so that I could come up with some amaaaazing flowery resources for all of us to utilize! She was such a good sport, and gave me SO much to work with.

I thought we'd start with the things we all want to know:

How do I make my flowers look amazing without spending too much, and how do I keep them alive as long as possible?

Thanks to Gabbie (my sister!), I've got the answers for you!

Let's do it.

1. Picking Fresh Flowers

So, Gabbie is a Floral Team Leader for a popular local grocery store. She runs her department, so she has a front row seat to all of us picking out fresh flowers for our kitchen tables and party decorations every week. She's been doing this for years now, and has a few pointers for us!

  • There are, of course, ready-made bouquets that have been professionally styled available, but you can also build your own bouquets with a few bundles of individual flower types. If you go this route, aim for some variety, but be careful when mixing contrasting colors. If you want to mix things on opposite sides of the color wheel, do it with more muted tones.

    (When I do this, I pick about 3-4 flower types with 2-3 of them in shades of the same color, and one that either compliments or contrasts, but subtly!)

  • How to make bouquets with flowers of different sizes look more cohesive. The photo shows an arrangement of sunflowers and red roses, blended together with white hydrangeas.
    Keep flower size in mind, too! Gabbie says that if you want to put two flowers together that are quite different in size (such as roses and sunflowers, for example, which is apparently a common request), you need to add a filler that meets them in the middle size-wise to make it look more cohesive. A suggestion she threw out for the example above is hydrangeas, and she even sent me a photo of this so I could show you - love!

  • It's hard to tell how fresh most flowers are (other than obvious wilting), but there is a little test you can do with roses to check. Give the base of the flower head (right where it connects to the stem) a little squeeze with your fingers. A new fresh rose will feel hard and tight. If it’s losing elasticity, it’ll be soft and is past its peak.

  • If you're looking to keep costs down, avoid larger blooms like lilies, sunflowers, gerbera daisies, and roses. Love what you love, of course! But perhaps lean towards only one larger bloom and filling out your bouquet with smaller ones. If you're after roses specifically, standard red bouquet roses are likely your most affordable option. (And psst: the florists probably aren't so invested in the meanings of rose colors, so if you're wondering about symbolism Google is probably your best bet!)

2. Pick the Right, Clean Vase

Okay, so you've got your flowers - now what? Hopefully you have a few vases to chose from so you have one that works for your bouquet - it needs to be big enough to give your flowers breathing room, but not so big that they float around in there without any style. If you shove a bouquet into a vase that’s too small, it’ll look too tight, and it will promote mold that kills them quicker and may make them stinky. If you pick a really big one with a super-wide opening, your flowers will just flop! Try a few out for size until you find what you love, and then give the one you pick a scrub.

Residue from previous flowers can cause bacteria to grow, which will shorten the life of your new bouquet. Rinse the vase with warm water and a small amount of bleach or vinegar to kill any bacteria. Then rinse thoroughly with water and dry. Ready to rock and roll!

3. Prep Your Vase & Water The Right Way

When you fill your vase, make sure you use cold water. This will keep your flowers from wilting, and encourage any buds or blooms that haven't fully opened yet to take their time and stick around longer. If your flowers came with plant food, go ahead and add it - but not the whole thing! Let's be honest: none of us are reading those tiny packets. But if you did, you'd find that one packet is meant for use in a full liter of water, so only mix in half of it (or even less). Adding too much will only make your water murky.

Next, grab some clear scotch tape. Pull off two long pieces, and tape them across the opening of your vase in a cross or plus-sign shape. You won't see the tape at all once your arrangement is finished since it's clear, but it will help you arrange your flowers evenly and give them something to lean on as you build up your bouquet. Genius!

4. You Have to Trim Your Stems, But Don't Use Scissors!

A simple bouquet of yellow roses with orange tipped petals.
According to Gabbie, any flower that has been removed from water must have at least 1/4 inch cut off the bottom of their stem before being arranged in their permanent vase. (BTW, she also said that you should never leave flowers out of water for more than three hours, so keep that in mind if you're transporting a bouquet you plan to gift!)

The thing is: you're apparently not supposed to use scissors to trim your flowers. Whoopsiiie. I didn't know this. They just aren't sharp enough, and despite making a fairly clean cut, the scissors are actually very slightly crushing the structure of the stems. This means that they won't efficiently draw up water, and they won't last as long as they could. This was actually Gabbie's number one tip for getting a longer life out of flowers: use garden shears! And she also said it doesn't actually matter if you cut them at an angle or not (gasp! who knew!) - she hasn't ever seen that make a difference. We've been lied to! lol

5. Arrange Stems in a Criss-Cross Layout

If you add the tape to your vase from my little tip above, this will sort of happen naturally. As you place flowers in your vase, angle their stems over and across each other to sort of interlock them under the water. This will help them support each other, and give your bouquet a more robust shape. It doesn't have to be perfectly done - just make sure you tip them in opposite directions and the stems will naturally do this. Scroll down to the end of this post for a peek at what this looks like - I made this arrangement out of a few bundles of flowers from the grocery store (daisies, lillies, and canterbury bells) before adding in daffodils from my own yard. Because I did my little tape trick, they did this little interlocking trick automatically!

6. Refresh Their Water

A few pink and white floral arrangements for sale at the grocery store.
When I bring flowers home and I notice them start to get a little wilty, I'll dump out their water, refill the vase with fresh, cold water, and add in the last of the plant food packet. What I didn't know, is if you do this every 3-4 days, you'll extend their lifespan and get more time with them. It seems obvious now, but it never occurred to me to do it sooner or more often. Who knew?

7. Bonus Tip: Don't Mix Daffodils & Tulips!

Never mix daffodils and tulips because they release pheromones that kill each other. I...had no idea. And probably could have easily done this (might have in the past??) because they both sprout up in my front yard in April and wanting to bring some outdoors in, they're all I have to chose from. But now I know. If I snip some of both, they're going in their own vases!

So - think you got it? Rushing out to the store right now to build a bouquet and watch it flourish? lol

I almost always have fresh flowers in the house - it's weird when I don't. I just love them so much! But I'm extra-excited to put Gabbie's tips to use for my next bouquet and see the difference!

Happy flower arranging to us all! :)

Pin all of this gold for future reference! :)

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