I’m in the process of getting my house ready for a spring home tour on Friday. Fresh flowers are something I always like to have in my home, but they’re especially nice when snapping pictures for a tour.
A couple weeks ago I was at my mom’s home for dinner and noticed she had some tulips in a vase. While the tulips were lovely, unfortunately the way they were displayed didn’t enhance their beauty. I gently mentioned this to my mom, and she agreed, saying, “Your flowers always look so nice; you’ll have to show me what to do.” A lightbulb went off in my head.
After I quit my hotel job in Philadelphia, it was five months before I moved back home to buy the B&B. During that gap, I worked at a flower shop to keep my bills paid. While I wasn’t responsible for creating arrangements, I did pick up a few helpful tips for working with flowers.
Sometimes when you know something, you presume everyone else knows it too. However, in that lightbulb moment at Mom’s, I realized my assumption might not be accurate. Maybe it would be helpful to share how I go about arranging flowers.
A few disclaimers before we get going: I have no formal training in floral arrangement, and I don’t pretend to be an expert. What I’m going to show you may be painfully basic for some of you, and some of you may not like my process. However, I figured I’d share how I display my store-bought flowers in case some folks might find it useful. Today, I’ll focus on tulips; I’ll share ideas for a few other flowers in the coming days / weeks.
Now we’re ready to start First things first, pick up some tulips. As you know, I don’t have a lot of retail options around here, so I found these at Walmart. They were $5 for 7 stems. I look for tulips that have flower heads that are closed and still pretty tight. It’s tempting to go for the ones that are open and beautiful, but they won’t last as long.
Once I get the tulips home, I work pretty quickly to ensure they aren’t out of water for very long. The first thing I do is remove almost all of the leaves. I usually keep one leaf on or maybe two. The leaves are very easily removed. Just pull them down the stem with your hand.
Removing most of the leaves gives the tulips some breathing room in the vase and keeps things from looking cluttered. Also, with most flowers, you don’t want leaves in the water. They tend to rot pretty quickly, making the water look gross and decreasing the life of your flowers.
Next, I add some water to a vase. Lately, I’ve been using vintage mason jars for vases. The half pint mason jars are the perfect size for seven tulips. However, feel free to use what you have and like. By the way, when working with flowers, stick with an odd number when you have fewer than twelve stems. With more than twelve stems, it really doesn’t matter if you use an odd or even number.
With your vase ready, cut the stems. I like to keep the stem length about 1.75 times the height of the vase. This means that the stem and flower sticking out of the vase should be about 3/4 as tall as the vase.
I also like to cut the stem on the diagonal. I’m not sure if this makes a huge difference. I just think it looks nice so that’s what I do.
I cut each stem individually and vary the length of each stem slightly. Remember, always go a little longer if you’re not sure. You can always cut off more later if necessary.
I ended up pulling off a few more leaves as I put the stems in the vase because it was feeling a bit crowded. Move the flowers around and trim off a little more of the stem until your arrangement is looking the way you want.
I like to change the water every 3 or 4 days to help the flowers last as long as possible.
Again, I know this is basic information, but I hope it helped. Of course, you can create more complex arrangements with different flowers, but sometimes a simple arrangement makes a dramatic statement.
If you liked this quick tutorial, stay tuned for more.