Flower Arranging Tutorial

After taking a bit of a flower hiatus over the holidays, I was really itching to get back to the Flower Mart and get my hands back to work.  My friend’s February birthday was the perfect excuse so I drove downtown early one morning last week as the sun rose and with my tea in-tow to pick up a bundle of blooms and got to work.  After posting about Katie and Chris last week, I received a few emails asking how I do it – How flattering!  Quite simply, the answer is two fold.  I was raised by the most amazing mother with a green thumb passed down from my Grandfather.  For as long as I can remember, her hands were outside and in the dirt every Saturday and Sunday tending to her garden and she would make the most amazing arrangements.  I learned so much from just watching her, but she’d always share little tricks and secrets with me.  Also, to be quite honest, flower arranging just comes really naturally to me and is really soothing.  I’m amazed at the beautiful things nature creates on its own and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and joy (even in the stressful moments!) while working with flowers.  It might seem difficult, but thankfully, the steps from fresh-cut blooms to the reward of a gorgeous arrangement are fairly simple… and I’m going to share them in as much detail as possible today.

{From left to right: Succulents, Dusty Miller, Dahlias, Ellington/Korean Fir, Ranunculus, Wheat Grass, Thistle.  Not pictured above: White Hydrangeas}

1.  First and foremost, decide what flowers you’re going to use for your arrangement.  For this one in particular, I was arranging for a friend who likes white flowers so I decided to use white flowers as a base with a lot of textured greens.

2.  Make sure you have everything you’ll need:  Container (and liner if your container is permeable), Oasis Floral Foam (for wet arrangements), flower picks with attached wire, floral tape (if you’re using foam to anchor your arrangements, you’ll almost never need tape, but I always keep it handy), pruners, flowers in fresh water.

3.  Cut your foam to the desired size (a knife works for this so don’t get talked into purchasing a foam cutter).  Make sure the foam fits snuggly in the container as to prevent the arrangement from shifting.   Take the foam out and soak it in a bucket of water until it no longer floats.  To speed up the process, sometimes it helps if you poke a few holes through the middle.

4.  Start with your largest flower (I like to use hydrangeas for this type of arrangement) give them a clean cut on an angle and cut away any leaves.  Place the first stem into the foam at one of the corners.  You want the flower to hang partially over the edge of the container.  Fill in the remaining three corners with hydrangeas and put the fifth hydrangea in the center.  When you are finished, you should still be able to see the foam if you look closely.  Make sure they aren’t packed together too tightly to add your remaining flowers.

5.  Choose your next largest flower, in this case it was the white dahlias.  Place them through (not next to) the hydrangeas and into the foam.  Putting them through the hydrangeas spreads the hydrangea buds apart and makes the arrangement more even and consistent.  You don’t want them to get lost in the hydrangeas so allow them to stick out a tiny bit further.

6.  The next flower I used was the ranunculus.  Since ranunculus have really thin and flimsy stalks (unlike hydrangeas and dahlias) it’s close to impossible to stick them into foam without them breaking.  Cut your ranunculus, bunch two of them together with a bud or two and wrap the wire of the pick around them as far down as you can go.  Clip to the desired length and place them into your arrangement.  Put a few of these little bunches through the hydrangeas and a few next to them to start filling in any gaps.

7.  Now on to the greens!  I used Dusty Miller to start because I absolutely LOVE the soft texture and the silvery hue.  Using the floral picks again, bunch 2-3 leaves together and add them to your arrangement.  Scatter several of these bunches throughout.

8.  Repeat with the white thistle (using the flower picks) since they also have really delicate stems.

9.   The silvery pine cone/artichoke looking greenery I picked up from the Flower Mart was referred to by two different names at different vendors: Ellington and Korean Fir.  I’m still not 100% sure what this is technically called, but it was beautiful and had so much great texture.  I scattered a few about in this arrangement.

10.  Lastly, I added some wheat grass to give the arrangement a soft, feathery look.  Follow the same steps as the ranunculus with a floral pic and scatter them throughout the arrangement.  Don’t push your little bunches too far into the foam, but allow them to stick out a little higher than then rest of the flowers to enhance that texture.

11.  Fill in any remaining space with some leftover flowers and voila!  You’re done!

Things to remember when making this type of arrangement:

–  Start monochromatically and move from lightest to darkest.  I always start with the largest flower (or base flower – in this case it was the hydrangeas) and since these were white, I used all of my white flowers first before moving onto the colored flowers and greens.  This allows you to seamlessly move from light to dark without too much contrast.  In my personal opinion, there is nothing worse than a white arrangement with really dark purple or blue buds and nothing to bridge that transition.  Working from light to dark will allow for a great flow of colors and textures.

–  You don’t necessarily need to use everything you have.  In this case, I picked up a few succulents and willow branches, but once I started arranging, I realized that I really didn’t need them for this particular piece.  Don’t feel obligated to use every single stem you buy.  Do what looks best.

If you feel like you’d still like some more instruction (and are in the LA/OC area) I’m happy to offer a crash course on flower arranging… perhaps one weekend over a few glasses of wine?  ;-)  Reach out if you’d be interested in something like this.  

HAPPY FLOWERING!

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6 thoughts on “Flower Arranging Tutorial

  1. Love the post, Megan. Great tutorial! And the arrangement is gorgeous. You are sooo fortunate to have the LA Flower Mart. We have NOTHING that compares and I can not WAIT to go down there when come to CA in April. Plan on a trip down there for some beautiful Easter arrangements!! Can’t wait – adding it to my itinerary right now. lol

  2. I know this is an ‘old’ blog post but I have been savng it in my inbox until I needed it. Thank you SOO much for sharing your talents with someone who isn’t very talented in this department :) I so wish we lived closer, I would love to play with flowers over wine!
    Again, thank you, I will be trying a similar flower arrangement for a wedding!

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