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  • Writer's pictureMonica Montanari

5-Minute Crash Course: Easy DIY Floral Arrangements

I'm a creative person, I like to think. But there's one area of the arts that I do not excel in: the floral department.

Last week I had to face my fears when I was tasked with making centerpieces with practically no budget. I headed straight to google, and wanted to make the perfect, quick compilation of what I found for other people like me who don't have all day to take a course but want to get down to the details.


Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

The first thing you'll probably want to do is dependent upon what you're getting yourself into. If you have limited space or a container you love, you'll probably want to decide is what kind of container you're aiming to fill with your arrangement. Is it a tall vase? A small bowl? You get the idea. I aim to get the container first before anything else. But, if the flowers themselves are your only goal, you can focus on those first and worry about vases/containers later (although I wouldn't do that because you might find that you need to buy a new vase to achieve the look you were going for.) Find a nice sharp pair of scissors or floral shears (God forbid you use regular scissors for flowers). You might also want a knife to cut down your foam to the correct size, but scissors can work if you like repeatedly stabbing things.

Step 2: Choose Your Flowers

Honestly before this I didn't know that there are four kinds of flowers.

Ideally, you'll want to get four types of shrubs for your arrangement: (1) greens for the base, (2) primary/"focal" flowers, (3) secondary flowers, and (4) fillers.

Here's a list of 20 types of greenery and filler flowers that may come in handy. Basically, for your base, you'll want to find something green and leafy.

Looking for focal flowers? Here's a list of 10 trendy ones that you should know about.

Here's a board of 500 ideas for secondary and filler flowers.

Step 3: Prep Your Vase/Container

Containers- I've done it the wrong way so that you can do it right: honestly no matter what I'm doing, if it's with real flowers or fake, I always use "Wet Foam". It's a lot easier to work with and meant to keep your flowers fresh. Apparently, you're supposed to soak the foam in water, remove it, then shape it, put it in the container, and then add water halfway up to the top of the vase. I shape it then put it in and then soak it. Whatever. Sue me.

Clear Vases- obviously if you're going to be using a clear vase, foam isn't the prettiest thing ever. It's supposed to look like these flowers frolicked out of the garden this way: not like you did a science experiment. So for this, you'll usually see people suggest using floral tape or scotch tape to make a "grid", like Melissa Roberts demonstrates on her blog:

Whether you're using foam or tape, the next thing you'll want to do is stir the packet of flower food into a container of water until fully dissolved and then fill the bottom half of the vase.

Step 4: Prep Your Stems

Here's where you'll get out those trusty scissors. A lot of places recommend removing all the leaves from the stems of your primary and secondary flowers, but I actually like leaving some of them on for free extra greenery in some of my arrangements. What I do is cut the flowers down to the length I want them, cut off any thorns or extra growths, and then remove the lover leaves. I wait until I put everything together to decide if I want to get rid of all of the leaves or not.

Cut your stems at a 45 degree angle. That will help them absorb water better. Likewise, if you're using a branch of some kind, make a small snip in the middle of the stem (vertically) to allow water to get in it.

Step 5: Start with Foliage and Greenery

General rule of thumb: you want only stems touching the water. Any leaves or other things that touch the water will make it sour quicker. Using your greenery, create a very general shape of the centerpiece you'd like to end up with. I'm boring and basic when it comes to flowers, so I always make the highest point of the arrangement in the middle. You can change that up depending on what you're looking for or what kind of container/vase you're using.

One post I read suggested clipping your greenery to 1.5 times the height of the vase before trimming off any leaves that would end up below the water line. I'll definitely be trying that next time.

Step 6: Insert Secondary Flowers

Any flowers that you plan to have toward the bottom of the arrangement, including any that you want to have hanging over the side of the container, throw those in. I aim for symmetry, but there are those who think it's boring. Whatever.

Step 7: Add Your Focal Flowers

Time for your little stars to shine. Now that you've gotten the general shape of the arrangement plotted, go ahead and insert your primary/focal flowers into the center of the arrangement. You'll likely want them to be higher than the others so they'll be more noticeable. Play around with what you like- but keep in mind that you can always cut a stem shorter, but you can't grow it back. So err on the side of caution and wait until everything is all in to adjust the height.

Step 8: Use Flowers & Fillers to Finish the Arrangement

Anywhere that there's extra space, go ahead and insert your secondary flowers and/or fillers.


To be honest, the more I read, the more I realize that no matter what you do, you're going to be fine. Remember: you will always be your own worst critic. If you can convince someone that upside-down flowers were an intentional part of your "creative vision", you're not ridiculous, you're a flower Picasso.

Feel like "branching out"? Check out TheWiseWife's entire series on creative floral arrangements!

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