How to Create a Gorgeous Cut Flower Bouquet
What’s more delightful than gorgeous flowers in your garden? How about a bunch of gorgeous cut flowers in a bouquet? And how about if they came from your own garden? You can have a revolving door of amazing seasonal bouquets on your tables and countertops, and with a few trade secrets from the pros, your bouquets will look every bit as scrumptious as theirs. Follow our 5 tips and you'll enjoy beautiful bouquets all season.
1. Choose your flowers & container
Whether you’re getting your flowers from your own garden, bringing them home from the florist or grocery store, or a combination of both, start with the flowers that are in season where you live. Your bouquet can be all one flower (pink roses, for example), a mix of 3 different flowers, or a joyful jumble of whatever’s on hand. If you’re mixing different types of flowers, remember to pay attention to the texture of your blooms to create the most interesting bouquet — large bold leaves and petals combined with softer, frillier greens or flowers is a no-fail combo.
Most flowers suitable for floral arranging have long, strong stems and blooms that hold up well after being cut, including:
Some are scented, so be mindful of that when combining your flowers to avoid creating an unpleasant-smelling bouquet. And as for vases? The sky is the limit here! Use clear glass vases, Mason jars, pottery containers, or ceramic containers. The color can contrast or blend in with your flower choices, remembering the guideline of “it doesn’t have to match, it just needs to ‘go’.”
2. Mind your proportionsWhenever you see a floral bouquet that just works, chances are part of the success is the proportion of flowers to vase. A good rule of thumb is to have your overall bouquet consist of 1/3 vase to 2/3 flowers — and that could be in terms of both height and width. For example, if you have a small vase with a 7” height and add blooms that are also about 7” high, make sure the width of the flowers is wider than vase on each side.
Floral designers swear by this rule, so who are we to question? That being said, a good rule of thumb about rules of thumb is to be familiar with the rule enough to know when to break it — and we’re all about experimentation if it gets you the gorgeous bouquet you want!
3. Start with greenery
Place your greenery in the vase first. Stems with greenery are often thicker and have more body than the cut flowers, and they provide a base or "grid" to support the flowers. You can always add more greenery later if you need to, but starting your bouquet in this manner gives it structure from the very beginning. Great options include ivy, various types of ferns, eucalyptus, myrtle, aspidistra, and magnolia leaves.
Quick tip: Greenery is not a “must” in a flower bouquet, but it’s a great way to add some balance to your flower colors and add another layer of texture.
4. Add larger flowers
Adding larger flowers first “grounds” your bouquet with the largest, heaviest element. These big beauties (think dahlias, large roses, peonies) are the base of your bouquet, so aim to cut their stems a bit shorter so they sit at the bottom of your arrangement. Again, this is similar to Step #2 — proportion. If your largest flowers are cut too tall, your overall bouquet could seem quite top-heavy as a result.
Quick tip: Cut them longer than you think you’ll need at first; you can always go back and shorten those stems if you didn’t achieve the desired height in the first go-round, but you can’t add stem length in after cutting.
5. Fill in with smaller, airier flowersOnce your base has been assembled, fill in with smaller, airier flowers like freesia or baby’s breath. Another variation of this step is to use flowers that might not be small, but they grow vertically on strong stems with multiple flowers per stem, like gladiolus. Using flowers like these “fill” the arrangement with texture and height, balancing the larger flowers below. The overall composition of your bouquet does not need to be exactly symmetrical (unless it’s a very formal look you’re after), but it does need to have balance.
Quick tip: Take regular steps back as you’re arranging and view the whole bouquet from every angle as you go. Adjustments are easy to make in order to create a beautifully balanced bouquet.
Pro tips: To make your cut flower bouquet last as long as possible, follow these tips
- Start with a clean vase — if you regularly use the vase for flower bouquets, make sure you wash it thoroughly with warm soapy water in between uses.
- Cut stems under warm water at an angle.
- Remove all leaves from flower stems that would be under water in your vase before placing in your bouquet.
- Check the water level daily and top up to keep the ends of all stems underwater.
- Katie Elzer-Peters