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How to Make Beautiful Floral Arrangements

Flower Arrangements by author Meghan Carter

  • How to select flowers and greenery.
  • Step-by-step flower arranging instructions.
  • Tips for getting a designer finish.
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  • article
  • checklist
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    Flower arrangements always look so lovely when you walk into a room. Many times they become the focal point, pushing everything else to a back stage position. But you can't always find a show stopping flower arrangement, and sometimes they're just not budget friendly. So I visited H.J. Benken Florist and Greenhouse to learn the secrets behind making gorgeous flower arrangements.  
    My teacher for the day was floral designer Vickie Wenstrup. Standing next to Vickie as she taught me how to arrange flowers was a bit intimidating. She has a natural eye for flowers and can perfectly arrange them in a matter of seconds; whereas, I couldn't even get past the part of cutting flower stems with a knife. How embarrassing. But if I'd had a pair of scissors, I would have mastered the floral technique. Alright, I would have been better at it. Arranging flowers takes skill, but Vickie's advice is so good you almost don't need it.
    Here are the steps Vickie used to teach me how to make beautiful flower arrangements, and they're much simpler than you would think.

Step: 1 Pick Your Flowers. Choosing the right flowers is a critical step. The best flower arrangements start with a good combination of flowers. So here's what you should look for:

Texture. Pick a variety of different textured flowers for your arrangement. For example, mix flowers with a single bud on a stem with flowers that have multiple buds on a stem. Also, look at how many petals are on each flower. Mix flowers with few petals with flowers that have numerous petals. Using a variety of different textured flowers will give your flower arrangement more depth and character, according to Vickie.

Color. Make sure the colors you choose blend well together. Vickie suggests picking flower colors the same way as you pick clothes when you dress in the morning. If the colors clash, don't use them.

Step 2: Put Greenery in Your Vase. Greenery is placed first in the vase because it creates a web that holds the flowers up when you put them in. As you put in each piece of greenery and the flowers when that part comes, make sure to remove the bottom leaves from the stem. You should not have any leaves in the water. Also, cut the bottom of the stems at an angle. It will help the flower absorb water better.  

Step 3: Add the Tall, Structural Flowers. Structural flowers are the tallest flowers in your arrangement. Putting the tallest flowers in first allows you to create the shape of your flower arrangement and gives you a guide for where to put the other flowers.

Placement. When putting the flowers in the vase, think in terms of odd numbers. Groups of three and five look better than groups of two or four.

Shape. Try to make your flower arrangement look like a dome. That way it can be enjoyed from all sides.

Balance. Try to evenly disperse the flowers throughout the flower arrangement. Keeping the flowers spread out and balanced gives the flower arrangement a pleasing look.

Step 4: Add Filler Flowers. Filler flowers are shorter than structural flowers, and fit nicely in the gaps between the foliage and the structural flowers. Filler flowers can be big in size such as lilies, or small like babies breath. Using a couple different filler flowers will give your flower arrangements more interest. When adding filler flowers to your arrangement, look for empty spaces and stick them in there.

Step 5: Add Spilling Fillers. Spilling filler flowers are flowers or greenery that droop away from the floral arrangement. Using spilling fillers gives your flower arrangements a finishing touch and helps to lead the eye throughout the arrangement. When inserting spilling fillers, keep them towards the bottom of your arrangement. That way they accent the floral arrangement without weighing down the other flowers.

Step 6: Empty Your Vase. That's right, once you're done arranging your flowers you need to take them out of the vase. I know, it seems counterproductive. But to keep your flowers lasting as long as possible, you should completely empty the vase, wash it out and refill it with clean, lukewarm water and flower food. Then put your flowers back in. If you don't empty your vase, the leaves that fall in the water as you make the flower arrangement will shorten the life of your flowers. To learn more about how to extend the life of your flowers, read the Flowers post.

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