15 Clever Tips to Make Grocery Store Flowers Look Like You Bought Them at a Florist
At Hello! Soirees we are just as passionate about your party details as we are with what we offer you in our boxes - we think that it takes all of the little details to make an absolutely PERFECT party!
You’re not alone if you totally have to have fresh flowers at all of your parties! We agree that floral décor is a gorgeous touch to your perfectly curated Hello! Soirees style party. But really, who wants the expense of buying flowers at a florist shop? It’s not cheap, so what’s a person to do?! Don’t worry, we’re here to help! We’ve put together a few tips and tricks for making an absolutely gorgeous floral design… right from home! We’ve done some serious research (years of party planning helps!) on everything from choosing the perfect flowers to how to keep them alive for days longer. These 15 clever tips will have your guests asking you where you ordered your arrangements from ;)
Tip One: Start by choosing the vase you want to use and clean it thoroughly to remove anything that might cause bacteria growth in your vase. In the bloom biz, anything used as a container for flowers is called a vessel. But to keep it real, we’ll keep calling them vases in the meantime! Select the vase you want to use so that you buy the right number of flowers for a full bouquet. The magic of perfect floral arranging happens before flowers even go into the vase. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be all blooms since you may want greenery to be equally as much of the bouquet as flowers (we’ll talk all things greenery in step nine). The idea is to make sure you have enough bouquet contents to make a full arrangement - it’s all about your arrangements being full, flourishing and fabulous!
Tip Two: Select your flowers wisely. Ugh, there’s always that part about being picky. While you’re not going to spend a fortune on these flowers, you don’t want to throw away your money by not choosing flowers that are going to last longer than the trip home. Keep these things in mind:
- How do the flowers look? If they’re browning, limp, or have creased petals - forget it!
- Are the flowers vibrant? If they look dull, they aren’t fresh and will wilt in no time.
- How “bloomed” are they? If every flower is opened and some are missing petals, chances are they’re oldies that won’t make it much longer.
- Is the water the flowers are kept in stale and smelly? That’s a sign they’ve been there a while, so they’re not a good choice.
- Are the flowers wrapped in cellophane? It’s best to avoid those because the wrapping prevents ethylene gas from escaping. No gas escape means early decay. Try to get flowers that are held together with a rubber band. If your only choice is those that are wrapped in cellophane, free them from that as soon as you can!
Tip Three: Clip stems correctly with right tools and in the right way. Never use ordinary household scissors because they will crush the stem. That means the vascular system of the flower won’t work right and can’t drink water easily anymore. Always use CLEAN (to prevent bacteria transfer) and sharp crafting scissors, knives or cutting shears to do the job right.
- Cut all flowers and foliage about 1-2 inches from the bottom of a main stem. Make the slice at an angle of about 45 degrees. Cutting at an angle provides a larger exposed area for the uptake of water, allowing the flowers easier access to water.
- Cut flower stems under water in your sink before transferring them to the vase. When flower and foliage stems are exposed to air they will immediately begin to seal up, inhibiting the absorption of much needed nutrients. Secondly, when fresh cut stems are exposed to air, bubbles of air become trapped in the stems, preventing the steady flow of water to uptake through the stem. Remove the clip, cut the stems and prune the leaves so that everything is fresh looking and the right height for your vase. Stems should be cut so that they are 1 ½ times the height of your vase. Use one of your feature flowers to determine height of your arrangement. Hold the flower up to the outside of the vase before snipping.
Tip Four: Always have your floral materials in water. Water is important - super important! It should always be at room temperature and all of your arrangement contents (minus artificial filler, of course) should be kept in water as you’re working with it. Foliage that is going to be submerged in the water should be removed and any limp or dry foliage should also be removed. It’s important to do this because you don’t want the water to turn green with the residue from leaves and of course, you don’t want limp and old leaves taking away from the beauty of your arrangement or falling into the water! We’ll address water mix in Tip 12.
Tip Five: Sort what you’ve bought into three categories. This makes is really nice so you can start to see your floral design even before it’s vertical. You’ll know what you have to work with this way. First category is greenery (filler), second category is made up of your accent flowers and third category has your show-stopping, big deal flowers. What you’ll probably end up with is twice as much stuff in greenery and accent flowers as in you have in show stopping flowers. Don’t panic - that’s the way it’s supposed to be!
Tip Six: Disguise the stems to create added visual interest. Unless you’re using something other than a clear glass vase, even the most beautiful floral arrangement will look less than on point if the stems show. There are lots of ways you can cover the stems up so that they aren’t visible:
1. Line the inside of the vase with long leaves cut off an artificial plant. Cut each leaf so it’s just a little longer than the diameter of your vase, curl the leaf around your hand and set it inside the vase (starting at the bottom). When you remove your hand, it will expand only to the sides of the vase. Repeat, repeat, repeat all the way to the top. Remember, don’t put live plant leaves in water because they’ll decompose and make water green-ish and sort of smelling. Okay, really smelly.
2. Use a vase within a vase. This works best with square vases (of equal height but one being narrower than the other). The narrower vase goes inside the wider vase (had to point out the obvious) and the flower arrangement goes into the inside vase. Then line the space in between the two vases with something pretty that goes well with your floral arrangement. This could be sliced lemons, limes or oranges (choose only one of these three for best impact), or fill that space with pebbles, marbles, sand or even colored water! The possibilities are endless when you start looking around for interesting material.
3. If you don’t want to put anything inside the vase to disguise stems, decorate the outside of your vase; you can even coordinate that with something that goes with your party theme - perf!
Tip Seven: Create a grid on the mouth of your vase to support flowers and filler. Take cellophane tape and put one strip down the middle of the opening of your vase in one direction and another going in opposite direction so that you have a plus sign. Work your way from that strip out, create a grid so that there are equally sized openings throughout the top of the vase. The openings between each “row” of tape will depend on the size of your flower and filler stems. Keep in mind that this grid is going to help keep bouquet upright, so it’s a good tip to use. Trust us, this part of the process goes a long way to making your arrangement a really big deal!
Tip Eight: Use flower form as an alternative to cellophane tape. If you’re a traditionalist and want to use what has been tried and true in the floral arrangement industry, this inexpensive material will certainly make you feel like a pro. You can buy floral foam in any craft store. It usually comes in green bricks. Here’s how you use it:
- Cut flower form with a knife to fit the shape of your vase.
- If you’re using a clear glass vase, leave a little space between the form and vase to line the inside of vase with whatever concealing material you’ve chosen (see tip six).
- Add water to vase so that foam is saturated in water. As you arrange your flowers, the foam may get a bit beat up, but don’t worry about that. It’s very forgiving by remaining useful even when a bit “used”.
Tip Nine: Buy greenery for extra filler. Greenery is an unsung hero of flower arrangements! If used the right way, it adds depth and interest. It’s the backdrop and even the pop, so think of it as an accessory. However, just like an accessory, it can make or break the look! You know the scenario, we’ve all been there… just once though! ;) The same is true for floral arrangements. Here are some really jazzy things you can use as fresh and artificial greenery!
- Ivy is a perfect accessory if you want something pouring down the sides of your vase.
- Leather Fern is great because it stems out, adds body and can be used for height. There are several other types that you can use, especially if you choose to go with artificial greenery.
- Tree fern is twiggy and thin so it’s great to pop into areas that need just a touch of texture.
- Eucalyptus is a popular choice for obvious reasons. It comes in matte gray or bluish green. It pares well with pastels, whites and for the holidays, also goes great with red!
Don’t forget the great outdoors for greenery! Once you step outside and open your mind to filler greenery (or other color) material, you’ll start noticing all sorts of possibilities to bring your arrangement to a whole new kinda life! Plants and herbs make a great little detail:
- Fennel fronds
to vines and branches like…
- Grapevine (perfect because they are versatile, can be large or small leaves and are a vibrant green).
- Citrus tree leaves and branches (countless dimension available depending on tree type).
- Evergreen tree and shrub branches.
Tip Ten: Timing is everything, so be wise about when to cut filler greenery from your own environment. When cultivating your own filler material, cut early in the morning or late in the evening - never during the heat of the day! Keep them in cold water until ready to use. The idea here is to keep everything as hydrated and perky as possible while waiting to be added to your vase.
Tip Eleven: Don’t be shy to try it all over again! This is one time when you can try a design you think is going to work and change it around as the design mood strikes you. As long as you’re gentle with your flowers and filler, you can rearrange them as needed. These are guidelines that will help you feel confident in your design:
- Add the greenery to create height, depth and dimension.
- Place each stem in the vase spreading evenly around the rim working from outside in.
- Between the flower choices, start with the flower that has the highest quantity which will make it easier to balance the look of your arrangement. This will usually be your accent flowers.
- As you add each stem, crisscross stems while adding them to the vase which will help lift some flowers and create volume in the middle of the bouquet.
- Add the show-stopping flowers by arranging them across from each other but in odd numbers to encourage natural looking asymmetry in design. Pairs look awkward.
- Spin vase around as you work so that you get an arrangement that looks beautiful from all angles.
- Step back and look at your arrangement. If you find spaces that look empty, it’s okay to add more filler - but avoid putting so many accent flowers that you overpower the arrangement!
Tip Twelve: Create the perfect water environment for your floral arrangement. Again with the water? Yes, we said it again! Water is very important in keeping the vibrancy of your arrangement because some flowers start to wilt, even within the day if they’re not in the right environment. To keep flowers really fresh, there’s some acid to help move water up the stems, sugar to feed the flowers, and an antibacterial agent to keep nasty stuff from growing on your beautiful creation. Of course, the science can get very detailed and you can even drill down to which flower needs more of one thing than the other. However, we’re talking grocery store flowers so they’re general enough flowers that a typical water mix will do the trick! We snooped around (and around and around) and learned the three most common “recipes for the perfect water environment”. Again, the science is the same in all of them and this is for one quart of room-temperature water. Choose one of the three options below by mixing…
- 3 teaspoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar OR
- 1 cup of NON-DIET Lemon-lime soda (contains both the acid and sugar) and ½ tsp of household bleach (antibacterial) OR
- Packet of dried preservative that comes with many grocery store flowers works well. Just remember that, when changing water as the days go by, you’ll need to re-create the same recipe for the ideal water environment. At that point, you’ll have to use your own mix (see a. or b.)
Tip Thirteen: Change the water every two days and re-cut a bit off each stem when changing water. After flowers sit in water the cut end starts to form a sort of scab that slows down water absorption. Cut the bottom off (at the same angle) of each flower stem every time you change the water. As already mentioned in tip twelve, you have to re-create the ideal water environment with each water change - this is super important!
Tip Fourteen: Keep flowers out of direct sunlight. This one is self-explanatory. If you use your flower arrangement outdoors, try to place them out of direct sunlight or minimize the amount of time they are in the direct sun. This will help them last longer, look more vibrant and keep their pizzazz!
Tip Fifteen: Keep flowers away from bowls of fresh fruit. Okay, we saved the best for last - if you’re doing your flower arrangement a day or two before your big bash, keep your arrangement away from fresh fruit because fruit emits the ethylene gas (that sounds familiar because we’ve mentioned that when it comes to flowers wrapped in cellophane at the store). Moral of the story, ethylene gas causes flowers to wilt.
So, there you have them - our favorite 15 tips that will help take you from start to finish on creating professional flower arrangements without the florist shop price tag. We know this looks like a lot to consider - but it totally isn’t! Like with everything we do for you, Hello! Soirees! pays close attention to every detail so that you can relax and enjoy your party with the confidence of a pro - more time for fun, less of the stress!