Floral Arrangements for Beginners: 7 Tricks to Try

Popular opinion: flowers make people happy! But purchasing a bouquet for every brunch or birthday party you attend can bust your bank account fast. Before you look for other gift-giving avenues, consider creating your own masterpiece. Flowers from the corner store, a vase and a little water can go a long way. (Plus, the heart and effort you put into making it will show through, too.) Not sure how to get started? We spoke to the experts at FlowerSchool, an organization that offers professional floral design classes in New York City and Los Angeles, about what every beginner should know when it comes to arranging beautiful blooms.

1. Gather your tools

Setup is easy. All you need is clean clippers, a vase and flowers. If you want to add some extra flair, depth and support to your arrangement, gather some foliage as well. (We’ll talk more about that later!)

2. Pick the proper flowers

While you can certainly choose blooms depending on your favorite color or variety, some are better for beginners than others. Lilies, roses and mums tend to be the most forgiving because they last longer and can typically handle not-so-gentle hands. Consider staying away from varieties of scabiosa and sweet pea, which are more delicate and require careful arranging.

3. Choose your vessel

A rectangular tabletop vase (approximately 4 x 3 x 6 inches) is recommended for beginners. It will make a medium-sized arrangement — perfect for your coffee table or a gift for a friend. Apply thin strips of tape in a grid-like pattern to help guide your flower arranging and keep stems upright. But avoid using flower foam — it isn’t biodegradable and flowers can’t drink water through it.

4. Cut correctly

In general, stems snipped at an angle will help flowers drink better. You should also remove leaves from the stems in order to direct all energy from the water to the blooms.  

5. Layer your look

When you’re ready to build your arrangement, think about your “hierarchy of flowers,” which just means placing stronger stems in the vase first and then filling in with less sturdy blooms and foliage. Also, keep in mind the size and shape of your vase and which angle your flowers will be viewed from. (If it’ll be on your holiday table, you’ll want to make your vase presentable from 360 degrees — wink, wink, no pressure!)

6. Fill it in

Now it’s time for greenery! Keep it natural with the ever-popular eucalyptus. It ages well, has a nice scent and comes in tons of different varieties. Branches can also serve well as filler and will last a while, as long as the water is changed regularly.

7. Don’t forget the water

Speaking of water, make sure to give your flowers some nourishment. Flowers typically prefer water at room temperature. Fill your vase about two-thirds full with a sprinkle of flower food. Then, change it out once a day or every other day to keep bacteria from growing and, as a result, your flowers living longer. (A thimble full of bleach dropped in the water can also help keep it clean.)

Emily is a recent graduate and proud Midwesterner who just moved to the big city to start her career in magazine journalism. When she isn't commuting between Brooklyn and Manhattan, she enjoys browsing bookstores for her next read, sipping chai tea lattes at local coffee shops, and playing tourist in the city she always dreamed of living in.