No matter what kind of event you’re hosting, floral arrangements are a great addition to your decor. Not only do they soften things a bit, bringing a soft, natural element to the design, they also elevate the look and feel of any tablescape. If you’re concerned about your budget, don’t be! Florals are a great place to roll up your sleeves and DIY. With these essential tips and tricks, you can guarantee your arrangements will look great without breaking the bank.
As crazy complicated as floral arrangements can get, there are four main aspects you just can’t do without. You’ll need a vessel, an anchor or a base, filler (consistent green palette greenery), and eye-catching flowers to act as a focal point. If you remember these four elements, flower arranging becomes a little less overwhelming, and a little more like a simple equation to solve. To curb spending, when you start to shop, make sure your purchases fit into one of these four categories.
Let’s start with the vessel. Clear vases are inexpensive and widely available, even at thrift stores and flea markets. The problem is, they show dirty water, which no one likes to look at. At OTR, we opt for colored vases as much as we can. Not only do they hide the grime in the water, they add a sophisticated look. Happen to find a bunch of clear vessels that are the perfect shape? Bust out the spray paint and perfectly match your theme!
Remember, vessels don’t have to be vases! You can use pitchers, candle holders, crates, bowls or cups for an unexpected and unique base to your floral design. We just love this adorbs succulent bowl, above.
Depending upon your vessel of choice, you’ll need to think about an anchor next. Taller, thinner vessels holding flowers and greenery with long stems may not require any anchoring material, but lower vessels with wider mouths may. Your local craft store can help you out here. You’ll want to check out FloraCraft for a half ball floral arranger or a block of foam that you can cut to shape yourself. This sounds hardcore, we know, but once you stick your first stem into this stuff, you’ll thank us (and you’ll feel like a bonafide florist). We like to keep wooden skewers on-hand when we use foam for flowers whose stems aren’t quite tough enough to push into the foam.
The next two elements, your filler and flowers, work hand-in-hand, so you want to think about them simultaneously. You want to keep the filler simple enough to really showcase those beautiful blooms. You can also see this as an excellent opportunity to save some cash, since filler is cheap. OTR’s favorites include Dusty Miller, Queen Anne’s Lace, Heather, Ferns (asparagus fern foliage is our fav!), and Freesia. If your event will be long and your arrangements need a little stamina, succulents and branchy items are great to use. For lower arrangements using a foam half ball, faux succulents, which typically have a thick anchor in the back, can be an easy addition that you can use again and again.
As you look for ways to save on flowers that stun, always look for buds that are in season. We love to check out our local farmer’s market and chat with floral vendors. Many times, these vendors will work with you on the price of a bulk buy. Although wholesale options can be tough to come by, it may surprise you to know that BJ’s, SAM’s, and Costco online have great floral options for excellent prices. Ideally, we like three flower variations in an arrangement, but if you can only choose one, don’t fret! You can always vary heights to create a perfect arrangement, using dimension to create visual interest.
If you remember one thing while arranging, just remember to keep it simple. At OTR, we believe that paring down elements and types of flowers to create a cleaner look. Arranging flowers this way allows the look to remain elevated without taking on an overly “done up” feel. The way we look at it, flower arrangements should be like a painting: cohesive but interesting. Paying attention to size, shape, texture, and color palette can make things come together in really unexpected ways.
(photo via Brit + Co)
Remove excess leaves from stems.
Trim stems as soon as they are ready to go into the vase and fresh water, not before. Cut stems should be exposed to as little air as necessary.
Always trim upward, or at an angle, for maximum water absorption.
Bacteria from dirty water affects the stem’s ability to drink clean water, so it’s best to change the water and re-trim stems every day.
Keep flowers away from fruit, candles, or air fresheners, which all have the ability to make flowers wilt faster with the smells and natural gases they produce.
Extreme hot or cold can kill flowers fast (we learned this the hard way when boutonnieres from our July Wedding froze in a refrigerator the day before the wedding!).
Be aware of flowers that are toxic if pets or small children are around. Surprisingly, as common as they are in arrangements, daffodils and lilies are both on the poisonous list. When in doubt, consult Google!
Things to have on hand for arranging (‘cause magic sometimes takes finagling):
Waterproof clear tape
Adding a drop of clorox into flower water helps flowers last longer.
Burning the end of a poppy stem (with a lighter) traps in nutrients and keeps them open and intact for longer than usual
Creating a cellophane grid at the top of your vase can stop a top-heavy arrangement from becoming a disaster. This trick also works for heavy flowers that need support. The grid keeps them in place and prevents tipping. Like a good bra, support is key.