How to Arrange Flowers & Make Them Last

If you’re anything like me, this lockdown is causing you to flit between states of desire to be productive and use this time ‘wisely’ and laying on the sofa like I’ve given up, watching re-runs of sitcoms I’ve seen a hundred times. If you’re in the latter, embrace it, don’t feel like you ‘need’ to do anything. If you’re in the former, I’ve got you. Using your average supermarket flowers, I’ve created a super accessible step-by-step guide for you to arrange your flowers with purpose and how to get them to last even longer.

Choosing your blooms:

Firstly, when choosing your flowers, look for heads that aren’t fully open, meaning they have room to bloom once you get them home. Take a look at the buckets, if they’re empty and the flowers haven’t been in water, it may be too late for them and you won’t get a lot of life from them. Also check for any browning or mould growing in some of the flowers, they don’t particularly like being wrapped in plastic as they have no room to breathe and some of the more densely packed bouquets can go mouldy.

Once you’ve chosen them and got them home, here’s how to arrange them:

Step One:

When starting your arrangement, it’s best to lie all flowers on a flat surface so you can see what you’ve got. Try to divide them into piles of focal flowers (large headed flowers e.g. roses, chrysanthemums), secondary flowers (e.g spray roses, alstroemeria) and filler flowers (e.g. gypsophila, heather).

You also need to remove any extra leaves from the stems of your flowers and greenery. I tend to remove all leaves but the only essential is that you remove leaves that would fall below the waterline. This is because they rot in the water, the flower takes up the bacteria and it shortens the life of it. Also, sometimes if you leave too many leaves on, the water never gets up to the head of the flower, so you can have a wilting rose head and full, green leaves! Not the look you’re going for.

Step 2:

When creating a vase arrangement, always start with your greenery first, criss-crossing those stems to create a structure to support the flowers.

Step 4:

Once you have a basic structure, add in the larger, focal flowers, repeating the criss-cross pattern to provide additional support.

Top Tip:
You should cut the stems at an angle with sharp, clean scissors, about an inch or two off the end. When out of water, the stems develop an air lock and can’t drink up the water, even when they’re placed back in. The angle helps the flower draw water more quickly so it will look its best, even sooner.

Step 5:

Your arrangement should be starting to take shape once your larger flowers are in, begin filling in the spaces with your secondary flowers, Keep crossing over those stems and you’ll find they begin to support each other, allowing the flowers to sit where you want them to, rather than falling to the sides.

Step 6:

Finally, add in your smaller, filler flowers to your design, great for occupying any little spaces left in the arrangement.

Step 7:

Once you’re happy with your design, keep your flowers out of direct sunlight and change the water every couple of days or sooner if it looks cloudy. Also ensure your flowers are not in a draught or near a fruit bowl as gasses from fresh fruit and veg can have make your flowers wilt. Remove any dead flowers regularly and hardier flowers should last you a few weeks. I often transfer the long lasting ones to smaller vases once others have died to place around the house for maximum benefit.

Choosing a Vase

The best vases for flowers have a wide neck and can have a narrow bottom – this gives the flowers room to move and spread out naturally. The vase must be very clean to avoid bacteria growing in the water; I recommend cleaning with bleach after each use.

Flower Food & Water

Flower food always helps your blooms last longer, but if you don’t have any, no fear! All you need to make your own is 1tsp of sugar (for food), 1tsp of bleach (to keep bacteria at bay) and 2tsp of lemon juice (to increase acidity). Add this to clean water in your vase – no need to overfill, you only need just over 1/3 of your vase filled with water.
If you use these step by step instructions to create any designs, please do share them with me! It makes me so happy to see other peoples’ creations and would love it if you could send me some pics on Instagram @irisandcoflowers or email me gemma@irisandco.com