Smart Design With Suzette: How To Arrange Flowers Like A Pro

Los Alamos

I am a lover of flowers; ever since I was a little girl, I would bring in cut lilacs from our property and arrange them throughout the house.
As I grew, wherever I moved, I made sure to have flowers planted that I could cut and bring in.
I always loved how cheery they made a room feel. I would have to say my favorite flowers are lilacs, gardenias, white roses, peonies and lily of the valley.
Lily of the Valley flower arrangement. Courtesy/Suzette Fox
When working with fresh flowers, something wonderful happens. Your senses are awakened, you feel invigorated, alive. It seems to me that flowers allow you to reconnect with nature in a creative way.
Flower arranging has been a popular art for centuries, and many people consider the ability to create a perfectly balanced arrangement a great skill.
A classic mixed-flower arrangement doesn’t have to be difficult — use your intuition (and these easy instructions) to arrange gorgeous bouquets.
Gather The Necessary Materials
It’s important to have all of the necessary materials and tools easily at hand. Depending on the type of flower arrangement you are making, you will need a selection of some or all of the following:
  • A clean vessel to contain the flowers — this could be a vase, a bowl or a basket (amongst other things) depending on the number and size of flowers the flowers.
  • A flower frog, or other natural materials to secure flowers in wide-mouthed containers – for example pliable branches like willow or dogwood, excelsior or wood aspen, foliage and live branches.
  • Clean, sharp floral scissors. A floral stripping tool is also helpful.
  • Florist wire to hold up large floppy blooms (wrap wire around the stem and insert the end of the wire into the bud.
  • Preservative. This minimized bacteria growth in the vase water and helps extend the life of fresh flowers.
  • Selection of flowers and two types of greenery.
Choose The Vessel
The vessel you choose to create your flower arrangement is as important as your flower- selection. Think about the look you are after. Keep a variety of containers on hand to match the mood of your blooms. Be creative!
Use your imagination when it comes to containers. Don’t be afraid to try something unexpected like an heirloom pitcher or even a jelly jar. I have beautiful glass containers that once held candles – they are perfect for small arrangements by a bedside or desk.
Pink flower arrangement. Courtesy/Suzette Fox
Prepare The Vessel
The next step is to prepare the vase, bowl, box or whatever vessel you plan on using for the flower arrangement. Make sure the vessel is nice and clean, with no residue or dirt.
This is where you choose a material to anchor your stems. My favorite choice is to crisscross woody stems (or your chosen greenery) across the vessel. This creates a kind of organic grid, which successfully holds your arrangement in place.
Vintage flower arrangement. Courtesy/Suzette Fox
Add Water
Pour the water to the vessel and then add a single package of preservative solution. If you don’t have any preservative solution, try adding a couple of drops of Clorox bleach to the water instead — this kills off any bacteria and helps to keep the flowers fresher for longer.
If you have any closed buds and you want them to open quickly, use warm water instead of cool water. This works best for flowers like roses and ranunculus, which have tightly closed flower heads.
Create The Arrangement
Add the large, more dominant flowers first. When you begin working on the arrangement, start with the largest or most prominent variety of flower first.
Rather than adding one type of flower and then another, it’s better to work with a single flower type at a time.
In this way, you can layer the different varieties, shapes and colors of flower evenly and create a more balanced arrangement.
Arranging flowers. Courtesy/Suzette Fox
Once you have finished with the first choice of flowers, move on to the second, using a different variety of flower. Continue to layer the flowers in this manner, one variety after another, according to the size and number of flowers in your arrangement.
Use An Odd Number
One of the main rules when it comes to flower arranging is to use an odd number of each variety of flower.
For instance, you might have seven roses, five hyacinths and two or three types of greenery interspersed between them. This uneven number of flowers helps the arrangement to look less uniform and more organic.
Add Leaves, Berries Or Other Greenery Last
When you have arranged all of the flowers to your liking, you can add the final touches by inserting any greenery, leaves, berries or other decorations.
This is step is important — not only to add interest and texture to your arrangement — but also because the greenery helps to separate the blooms, giving air room to circulate in between them so the flowers stay fresh.
Using filler material also helps to give the impression that there are more flowers in the arrangement than there actually are, so you can create an extravagant looking arrangement without the extravagant price!
Flower arrangement with strawberries. Courtesy/Suzette Fox
To keep your flowers looking fresh make sure they can absorb water easily. That means cutting stems on the diagonal. For woody stems, such as tree branches, cut cross-slits in the bottom inch of the stem and scrape the bark off that portion. DO NOT use kitchen scissors, as these can crack the stems and prevent the flowers from getting enough water.
If you plan on leaving the flowers to sit in a vase for any length of time before arranging them, remember to give the stems a second snip directly before placing them in the arrangement.
Before placing the flowers into the arrangement, you will also need to remove any leaves that are below the water level. This is important, as otherwise the leaves would rot, contaminating the water.
One trick for keeping roses extra fresh is to soak the stems in an inch of boiling water immediately after cutting them. Leave them there until the water turns tepid, and then give the stems a second snip before placing them in cool water.
Flower arrangement showing greenery. Courtesy/Suzette Fox
You Can Do It
What I love about flowers is there really is no “wrong” way to do it! Hopefully this post has inspired some beautiful arrangements in your home, office or at a fun gathering. What are YOUR favorite flowers? Let me know on my Facebook page. For a fabulous flower arrangement tutorial, visit my Facebook page and I’ll link a video. And, while you’re there say hi to me at and inquire about my interior design services on my website
Romantic flower arrangement. Courtesy/Suzette Fox