Everything You Need to Know to Master Flower Arranging

Updated 07/29/19
You Look Lovely Photography for Fashionable Hostess

In theory, creating a beautiful bouquet is easy, right? You pick a few of your favorite flowers, throw them in a vase, and hope for the best. But in practice, there's much more to the art than meets the eye: Which blooms are in season right now? How do you care for a bouquet to make it last longer? How do you pair different flowers to create an elegant arrangement? These are all questions that have discouraged us in the past from trying our hand at a personalized bouquet in favor of a quick trip to the local florist.

But as you are never served better than by yourself, store-bought arrangements gone wrong are also a real dilemma. We decided to learn how to master the art of flower arranging once and for all—and we knew exactly who to ask. Christy Doramus is a flower whisperer—from beautiful bouquets to her wildly popular flower crowns, no one knows the intricacies of flowers, or how to navigate the Flower District, better than she does. That's why when she hosted a flower-crown event with hostess extraordinaire Amanda S.

Gluck of Fashionable Hostess, we had to tap them both for their combined expertise. Get your twine and shears ready—you're about to become a floral expert.

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis 1
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Just because you don't have a grand occasion doesn't mean you shouldn't adorn your home with flowers—but you also don't want to go overboard with the arrangements. Simple wildflowers are best for everyday bouquets, says Doramus. "In the summertime, I love local wildflowers such as astrantia, Queen Anne's lace, astilbe, and cornflower. In the late summer, I love dahlias and globe amaranth."

What to try: Chamomile, astrantia, Queen Anne's lace, and cornflower.

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis 2
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Formal affairs lend themselves to tradition, so it's best to stick to classic flowers if you're planning a formal arrangement. "When creating centerpieces, I love using fuller blooms such as peonies, garden roses, and dahlias while mixing in spray roses, ranunculus, and greenery such as eucalyptus," says Doramus. "If you want roses or peonies to open up, use warm water," she recommends.

"I love bunching a few peonies together to create a gorgeous and easy bouquet for any table," says co-hostess Amanda S. Gluck. "If you can add in some spray roses that looks amazing as well."

What to try: White roses, white peonies, and greenery.

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis 3
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

For the perfect hostess gift, Doramus recommends something from your own garden if possible. Bringing a personal and thoughtful gift that's also simple goes a long way.

"Orchids are always a great gift because they are elegant and don't require too much effort to keep alive," says Gluck. Their long-lasting nature means your gift will be appreciated and remembered for much longer.

What to try: Garden roses, peonies, fresh herbs, and orchids.

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis 4
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Steering away from the traditional arrangement in favor of smaller bud vases is a great way to make your florals feel more modern and fresh. "I love creating table arrangements that consist of several different small vessels rather than only using one large centerpiece," says Doramus.

"To create an interesting tablescape (and save money), you can look inside of your cabinets and use anything from a mason jar or drinking glass to a candle holder or teacup as a vase," she says. Group a cluster of vessels with varying heights at the center of a table and play with the height of individual flowers within the vases. "This technique also typically uses fewer flowers as the vessels will look full with as few as three to five blooms in each," she says.

What to try: Dahlias, spray roses, and ranunculus.

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis 5
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

If you need an arrangement that's long-lasting, Doramus recommends flowers that dry well. "Baby's breath and Limonium are great long-lasting flowers that dry out well," says Doramus. "I love using these when making flower crowns!" She also avoids flowers like hydrangeas that wilt quickly in warm temperatures.

To make her flowers last, Gluck trims the stems of her flowers at an angle every few days and refreshes the water daily. "I remove any dead flowers and add a drop of bleach," she says.

What to try: Baby's breath, Limonium, lavender, and eucalyptus.

Ready to create your own summer arrangements?

Muuto Elevated Vase $129
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Terrain Floral Shears $34
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