Emily Bihl · Mar 23, 2019
If you’ve never tried your hand at floral arranging before, it can feel pretty intimidating. For whatever reason, it’s one of those #adulting skills we just never picked up. And we bet we’re not alone. “It’s truly a lost art,” says Caroline Strzalka, who founded floral kit delivery service It’s By U with her sister, seven-time Philadelphia Flower Show winner Christine Strzalka. “People know even less about flowers than they do about food.” But according to the sisters, there’s nothing to be anxious about when arranging. In fact, the practice can be seriously soothing. “People are longing to bring nature back into their lives, and our kits are truly botanical therapy kits,” says Christine. “[They] have helped people to de-stress and focus.” We caught up with the sisters to get their pro tips to transform even the most floral-averse beginner into a calm and meditative floral-arranging master.
1. Source smart. “Avoid buying from bodegas or big box stores,” Caroline tells us. “Blooms from these places are often several weeks old. The farms they originate from may have sketchy sustainability histories or questionable labor practices.” Translation: If you can’t afford to buy responsibly, you may be contributing to an unethical supply chain… and that’s *never* a good look. Seek out local growers and sustainable markets or grocery stores instead. Still not sure about some blooms you’re buying? “Look for the ‘Rainforest Alliance Certified’ stamp on your flower packaging to be sure you’re getting eco-sustainable and fair trade flowers,” she advises.
2. Get the luxe look. The difference between an inexpensive bouquet and a pricey one? The number of blooms. “[Pre-made bouquets] rarely have enough stems to fill a vase completely and they often contain daisies or mums that can look cheap,” Christine says. Instead, she suggests buying two or three bunches of the same type of flower in the same color to create a fuller, more modern look.
3. Build your own bundle. “Groceries often sell bunches of individual flowers for the same price as a pre-mixed bunch,” advises Christine. Skip the pre-made packs and bring a discerning eye to the selection process so you can ensure every bloom is a winner. The sisters suggest buying individual bunches of hot pink, light pink, and white flowers like tulips, roses, peonies to create a custom blend.
4. Make the cut. The length of your stems depends on the type of vase you’ll be using, so plan ahead. As a general rule, stems should be 1.5 to 2.5 times the height of your vase, according to the sisters.
5. Work your angles. After you’ve gathered all your flowers, it’s time to design. “When inserting flowers into a vase, put them in at angles to one another, so that the stems prop each other up and the flowers splay outwards to make the bouquet look bigger,” Christine says. If you’re using a wide-mouth vase, it helps to employ a little tape trick. “Tape the vase opening in a grid pattern with waterproof floral tape,” she suggests. (See the picture above for an example.) “Then cut your flowers to be about an inch longer than the height of the vase, and drop the flowers into the grid, making sure to cover any tape that may be on the side of the vase.” This tip is a twofer: It also keeps your flowers from drooping as they age, so you can enjoy them for longer!
6. Keep it clean: Once you’re happy with your floral masterpiece, don’t just set it and forget it. “To avoid cloudy water, remove all leaves that will be below the waterline in the vase. This will prevent bacteria from growing,” Christine tells us. She also suggests cleaning the vessel and adding new water every other day to prolong the life of the blooms. Cutting a quarter inch off the bottom of the stems before replacing them in the vase can also help. Lastly, make sure your arrangement is clear of radiators, air conditioners, and direct sunlight: these environmental factors can prematurely burn or dry out your handiwork.
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(Photos via It’s By U)
Emily Bihlis a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter currently undoing a lifetime of healthy eating in the great city of New Orleans. When she’s not writing, she can be found covered in clay at the ceramics studio or attempting an approximated downward dog. She likes her black labrador Selkie, unexpected anagrams, and cracking the sugar on creme brûlée with the back of a spoon.