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How to Arrange Flowers Like a Professional

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If you’ve always wondered just exactly how professional flower arrangements look so fabulous, we’re here to let you in on a few secrets. We’ve spoken with flower arranging experts on what to keep top of mind in order to create a wow-worthy floral display in the comfort of your own home. Below, they touch on key topics including choosing the right vase, determining the proper stem length, and why practice truly does make perfect.

Answer a Few Basic Logistical Questions

Before beginning the actual flower arranging process, you will want to ask yourself a few key logistical questions, notes Drew Hawley, a floral designer with Flowers for Dreams. “What vase am I putting this in? Your vase determines the quantity of blooms needed, what style you may want to execute and how you will build the design,” Hawley says.

Not sure what hue to use? “When choosing the color of the vase or the florals, think of complementing or contrasting colors on the color wheel,” Meg Callahan, brand manager at Afloral, says. “If you have a blue vase, try red tulips for a contrasting look or shades of blue and green for a complementing/monochromatic scene.”

Furthermore, if you’ll be reusing a favorite vase for this project, ensure that it does not contain any soap residue—this will shorten the life of your blooms, Alice Lewis, president of Alice’s Table, says. Additionally, determine where your vase will be displayed.

Erin Williamson

Prep and Clip Like a Pro

Lewis suggests filling your vase of choice with room-temperature water and some flower food. Then, start clipping your stems. “Begin cutting your greens and place them in the vase,” she advises. “I call this ‘greening’ your base, and it is critical for the structure of our bouquet.”

Hawley always starts by first arranging his greenery “to create a sound base to build off of,” he says. “From there I work from largest bloom to smallest, saving those great details and delicate stems for last,” he says. “This allows me to build the design with a stable framework throughout and highlight the most important parts.” That said, don’t be afraid to regroup and start over as many times as you need until you’re feeling satisfied with your design, Hawley says.

Cathie Hong Interiors

Work With an Odd Number of Flowers

Next up, add flowers. Use floral clippers or scissors to cut steps at a 45-degree angle. “I always encourage guests of our workshops to not be afraid of chopping off extra length,” Lewis says. “One of the most frequent mistakes I see is when stems are cut too long.”

Experts say that ideally, florals will be two to two and a half times the height of the container. Lewis adds, “The biggest impact will come from the flowers rather than from the vase.”

How many flowers should you incorporate into your arrangement? “A good rule of thumb is to work with odd numbers when selecting flower blooms,” Hawley says. “Odd numbers look pleasing to the eye and will allow you to create depth and dimension.”

But there is such a thing as going overboard, Hawley says. “You do not want to overcrowd your vase and risk dehydration,” Hawley says.

And arranging flowers one by one is key to a stunning arrangement. “Always start with the largest flowers and work your way to the smallest flowers,” Lewis says. “For a picture-perfect arrangement, it’s worth the additional time to follow this technique.”

Turning your vase as you work can help prevent any gaps, Callahan adds.

Be Strategic When Choosing Flower Type

Base your flower picks on the season, Lewis says. During the holiday season, for example, why not opt for seasonal hues such as red and green? “I love a red floral bouquet mixed with evergreens, and have holly bushes and evergreen trees that I clip from so I am able to add these seasonal elements indoors,” Lewis says.

Gray Space Interiors

Keep Practicing Over Time

The more flower arrangements you make, the better you’ll become at styling them, it’s as simple as that. “Practice allows a designer to retain muscle memory for each style and aesthetic,” Hawley says. “After creating multiple arrangements, you begin to understand placement, lengths, and the overall architecture of the design you are trying to achieve.”

Revisiting your arrangement after a few hours can also be useful. “Once you’ve finished your design, step away and give the design and yourself some time to breathe,” Callahan says. “Come back later with fresh eyes, and you’ll notice any last-minute tweaks or adjustments you’d like to make.”

Additionally, note that no two flower arrangements will be exactly alike—which is what makes them so special. “I always say flower arranging is an art, not a science,” Lewis says. “Even if you use the same flowers and follow the same steps as a friend or loved one, your arrangement will always be different and unique.

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