A few months ago, I wrote about the not-so-pretty side of the flower industry. I’ve learned, in addition to the fact that it’s not quite a bed of roses, that the quality of the flowers that you and I can buy from Costco, Trader Joe’s, and some grocery stores are as good or better than the flower shops buy. The main difference between our buying flowers directly and the florists who buy them is that they know what to do with them.
Large floral design is an art. When you want to send flowers for a special occasion, or organize one yourself, like a wedding, you want a fantastic floral designer on the job. But what about those in-between periods, those weeks when you just want to add some kindness to your life?
Buying store-bought flowers is an easy way to do this. However, when I buy a bouquet of flowers and put them in a vase, it looks like I bought a bouquet of flowers and put them in a vase. To figure out how to take this group of groceries from meh to wow, I picked the brains of two great floral designers.
Barbara King is the owner of Valley Forge Flowers in Wayne, PA.
âOur customers often say, ‘I don’t want this to look like a flower shop‘,â she laughed.
“So the point is to try and make it look like you haven’t tried?” I asked, to be clear.
âPretty much,â she said.
Steve Rittner is a third generation florist who teaches floral design classes at the Rittners School of Floral Design in Boston.
Here’s what they said we could do to increase the ooh and ahh factor of store-bought flowers:
â¼ï¸ Add something from your own garden. âIf the flowers you bring home from the grocery store have an FTD air,â King said, âgo out, cut something in the garden and stick it in the arrangement. You will transform the arrangement into an organic arrangement and bring your exterior inside. “
â¼ï¸ Visit the herb garden. If you are growing herbs in your garden, cut sprigs of rosemary, thyme, parsley, etc. If you don’t grow herbs, go to the produce section of your grocery store. Adding herbs to a flower arrangement is especially nice for centerpieces, as the smell of the herbs complements the meal.
â¼ï¸ Cut the stems short. Create a chic arrangement by cutting the stems short, so that the flowers fall just above the edge of the vase in a low, compact mound. Replace the typical fern leaf that came with the bouquet with vinca vine or other less expected green plants.
â¼ï¸ Add a seasonal touch. When you put flowers in a transparent vase, garnish the water with crabapples (fall), cranberries (winter) and citrus slices (summer). Elevate a boring mom’s bouquet by nesting in small bouquets of colorful cauliflower or fall leaves, King said. Glass stones and pebbles deposited in clear containers can also add color, texture and interest.
â¼ï¸ Choose alternative containers. An interesting vase will automatically enhance the design, Rittner said. Collect several pretty cut vases above the mason jars. Look for a wine cooler or soup tureen in your cookware. Prevent leaking containers from leaking by inserting a clear vase, thin plastic liner, or even a plastic bag into the container.
â¼ï¸ Get connected. Whether you have bouquets of hydrangeas, roses, sunflowers, or a mixed bouquet, you can never go wrong adding “branchy stuff,” said Rittner. Curly willow, birch branch, kiwi vine, or eucalyptus will instantly make an arrangement look bigger and more interesting.
â¼ï¸ Arrange in hand. For a natural âhand-pickedâ look, arrange flowers in your hand, Rittner said. Place flowers on a palm and hold them like a bouquet. Adjust them until you like the mixture. Secure the stems with a pipe cleaner or raffia. Then cut the stems and immerse them in water.
â¼ï¸ Don’t be afraid of the foam. Foam-based compositions allow you to put flowers wherever you want and keep them there. Soak the floral foam in water for five minutes and cut it to fit snugly in your container. If you let it protrude a half inch or more above the edge, you can add stems horizontally. As you push the stems into the moss, keep the freshly cut stalk low and gently push it into the wet moss. Do not hold the rod high or pinch it or you may obstruct it.
â¼ï¸ Don’t sniff fakes. âPreviously, using artificial flowers was a big no-no,â King said, âbut they’re so superior now. They look real and even real. It’s such a trap that even professionals don’t. can’t spot them. “
â¼ï¸ Foam on it. Because the foundations of foam arrangements aren’t always pretty, cover your mechanisms with a layer of foam, Rittner said. You can find Spanish or leaf moss at floral or hobby supply stores.
â¼ï¸ Don’t dwell on the rules. Some say you can only mix tropical flowers with tropical flowers. Others get snobby about mixing expensive flowers with cheap flowers. Nonsense, says Rittner. “You can mix protea with roses, or a bird of paradise with Irish bells, and create some really interesting flower art. And I wouldn’t hesitate to mix hydrangea with inexpensive carnations.”
â¼ï¸ Dip and crown. No flower leaves King’s boutique without being treated with Quick Dip, which extends flower life by preventing stems from clogging, and Crowning Glory, which she sprays on finished arrangements to seal and protect them. Both are available online.
Marni Jameson is the author of six books on Home and Lifestyle, including “What To Do With Everything You Have To Leave The Legacy You Want.”