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Do-It-Yourself: Floral Arrangements

Even a small arrangement of fresh flowers can bring a new dimension to a room.

Fresh flowers can impart beauty and pleasant aromas anywhere they are displayed. This is why flowers are one of the most popular choices for event centerpieces.

Many would-be entertainers desire the classic look of floral centerpieces but may be intimidated by the work required to create dazzling arrangements. However, it is actually easy for the average do-it-yourselfer to create beautiful centerpieces.

It doesn’t require a fortune or too much expertise to create a centerpiece perfect for your next social occasion. Once you master a few floral arrangement skills, you may be tempted to place arrangements all around the house.

Though there are no concrete rules for floral arrangements, it’s best to stick to a few standard tips when it comes to your first attempt at floral centerpieces.

Centerpieces are often categorized in one of eight possible design types: horizontal, vertical, triangular, crescent, oval, minimal, lazy “S” and freestanding. When entertaining at a buffet table or where people will be encouraged to converse, the horizontal arrangement is generally the best fit.

To create amhorizontal design:

  • Select a relatively shallow container, such as a basket or low-profile rectangular or oval vase.
  • Use a florist’s foam that can be soaked in water and retain moisture and line the container with the foam.
  • Use long foliage or sprays to create the shape of the horizontal display and anchor them into the foam.
  • Insert the flowers that will be your focal point into the middle of the arrangement and let them gently spill over the edge of the container on both sides.
  • Insert fill and other smaller blooms and foliage around the focal flowers to fill out the arrangement to your desired height and density.
  • Select flowers that you like rather than ones you believe will look exotic. Start with one type of flower to test your arrangement skills. As you become more experienced, go with two or three different types of flowers and experiment.
  • Don’t venture too far off your color palette when mixing different shades of blooms. Try to keep the shades relatively the same or in complementary colors.
  • Decide on the shape of the arrangement based on the flowers you’ve selected.
  • Measure and cut the flower stems according to the size of the container. Flowers should only be one or two times taller than the height of the container. Fuller flowers usually look best when they are an inch or two taller than their container. Slimmer flowers can be a few inches longer.
  • Cut the stems of flowers on an angle, and for leafy stems, such as with roses, cut a small vertical slit into the base of the stem to allow as much water penetration as possible. Remove thorns and any leaves that will be below the water line.
  • If arranging into a vase, use a small amount of bleach to keep bacteria, which can reduce the life of the arrangement, at bay.
  • Pay attention to flower spacing. You don’t want too many flowers or the arrangement could look too cluttered. Use foliage and other fillers to create the right amount of spacing.
  • Remember, a simple container will draw attention to the flowers and not the container itself. Rectangular and square containers often look sophisticated.
  • Once you’ve established a finished product, you want to ensure the arrangement lasts as long as possible. Avoid keeping fresh flowers in direct sunlight, as they may dry out and wither more quickly. Routinely change the vase water or add fresh water to the floral foam. Consider continuing to supplement the water with a bit of bleach to minimize bacteria growth.