Learning a Little about Flower Arranging


Topic – Flower Arranging

For the Learn a Little/Teach a Little project, I chose to learn about arranging store-bought flowers in a vase for a table display. I love to have fresh flowers in my home, and wanted to learn how to arrange them for optimal display.

The first step was sourcing the flowers, so I read up on the best types of flowers to display in your home. Martha Stewart advises to only display flowers that are in season so that they will match the mood and weather, and be freshest when sourcing from your garden or local store. FTD.com and Real Simple Magazine all advise the same, and so I researched the types of flowers that in season in late September/early October in New York. According to WikiHow, “the most popular autumnal flowers include dahlias, marigolds, zinnia, statice, chrysanthemums and aster”. (https://www.wikihow.com/Arrange-Flowers), 2019)

So I set off to Trader Joe’s to buy some fall arrangements. I found roses, asters, sunflowers and chrysanthemums, so I picked them up and set off the learn how to arrange them.

Step 2 – Gather Materials

According to WikiHow, the materials you will need for proper flower arranging include:

  • an appropriate vessel to hold the flowers
  • water
  • flower food
  • scissors
  • newspaper
  • leaf stripper
  • and other optional materials such as flower foam

I gathered the materials, and read on to learn more.

Step 3 – Prepare the Flowers


The next step is to cut the stems. Cutting the stems achieves two goals. First, it refreshes the stem so that the flower can draw water to nourish itself. After cutting, a natural seal will form on the cut edge to protect the flower.

Cutting the stem also allows you to change the height of each type of flower to create a more interesting display.

At this point, you should also strip any leaves off the flower stem, especially if they will be immersed in the water of the vase. Leaves in water will rot quickly and make your arrangement wilt more rapidly.


Step 4 – Fill Vase with water and flower food


Trader Joe’s always offers flower food with their cut arrangements, so I dissolved the powder in the water of the vase and read on. WikiHow offers these interesting tips:

  • Pour the water to the vessel, then add a single package of preservative solution. If you don't have any preservative solution, try adding a couple of drops of Clorox bleach to the water instead -- this kills off any bacteria and helps to keep the flowers fresher for longer.
  • If you have any closed buds and you want them to open quickly, use warm water instead of cool water. This works best for flowers like roses and ranunculus, which have tightly closed flower heads.

(Source: https://www.wikihow.com/Arrange-Flowers)

Step 5 – Make your Arrangement

WikiHow observes that adding the larger or more “dominant” flowers is a good beginning, so I chose the chrysanthemums and the roses to start with. The sunflower is still only semi-open, so I knew I could save that for later.

WikiHow also advises to work with one flower type at a time. This was an interesting idea for me, as I had always just grabbed all the pretty colors and placed them as I saw fit. Adding one type at a time forced me to slow down and decide if I wanted that flower type to be taller or shorter than the other types of flowers, and I experimented with a few different heights to see what I liked best.

Another tip is to work from the outside of the vessel in. Again, this was interesting to me as I had always completed arrangements in the reverse order. However, working from the outside in allows you to place the shorter stems first, then layer in with the taller stems, creating more drama with the increased height. Finally, WikiHow advises turning the vase during the process of cutting and placing flowers, so that you can see the arrangement from all sides.

A rule of thumb, according to WikiHow, is to use an odd number of flowers in each layer. This allows the flowers to look more organic in their display.

I'm very happy with how my arrangement turned out, and I look forward to creating teaching materials for the next week "Teach a Little"...

Completed Arrangement











    • Kendall Stevenson
      Kendall Stevenson

      This is very good, I could learn a thing or two about organizing my lay out from you.

      • Gerald Ardito
        Gerald Ardito


        This was really interesting. Thanks for sharing what you learned and how you learned it.

        I had a question - were you happy with the instructions from Wiki How or did you feel like you wanted to/needed to reference multiple sources?

        • Jennifer Rinaldo
          Jennifer Rinaldo


          I like that this is a topic that could be useful to almost anyone, as everyone has fresh flowers in their home at some point.  When I get a bouquet from the store, I always cut the stems as suggested, but oftentimes I would like to add more depth by varying the height of the flowers and now I know how!  I appreciate that you gave some very specific tips, such as including an odd number of flowers at each level, and working from the outside in. I think these specific pointers will help anyone using your instructions to be as successful as possible.  The videos on the WikiHow that you linked are also very helpful. Did you find that you followed each step as they described? Your finished product is beautiful, I would be interested to see your flower arrangement at each step of the way. The next time I get a bouquet, I am going to pull up your instructions, they will be very helpful! 

          • Nicole Tartaglia
            Nicole Tartaglia

            Hi Susan, 

            I truly enjoyed reading this as I greatly appreciate the art of flower arranging. Every time I see a beautiful piece I can't begin to imagine how someone creates it. I never knew you were only supposed to work with one flower type at a time! I think your step by step instructions were very clear and to the point which I enjoyed. I will definitely have to try and create my own flower arrangement one day soon! Thanks for the step by step instructions! 

            • Brianna Walter
              Brianna Walter

              Hello Susan,

              I might be the worst when it comes to ordering my flowers, even if they are all the same kind of flower.  Your video was great and very thoughtful.  I liked how you organized each step and demonstrated.  You taught me about the water temperature for the flowers through your video-- warm water for closed buds to help them open up.  Who would have known?  Also, I couldn't see adding a few drops of clorox to the flowers-- I often don't even add the powder mixture, I guess I should really start doing that too.  I enjoyed reading your post /watching your video.  It was definitely engaging and I will think about this next time I make a flower arrangement!

              • Susan Granata
                Susan Granata

                @Gerald Ardito - who asked: "I had a question - were you happy with the instructions from Wiki How or did you feel like you wanted to/needed to reference multiple sources?"

                I did not love WikiHow. The format was uncomfortable on my laptop, though it probably looks better on an iPad. I felt as though the instructions were limited in their scope, and I referred to Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, and Martha Stewart for some more ideas and information. I think WikiHow is a great launching pad for further investigation, however, which is why I still use it.

                • Nina LaMarch
                  Nina LaMarch

                  Hi Susan,

                  I enjoyed reading your learn/teach a little something about arranging flowers. My grandmother always has beautifully arranged flowers in her house and I never realized how much work is put into arranging them. I found it interesting how you work from the outside in, like you said I would have done it reverse but it does make more sense to start on the outside. Arranging flowers can really make a room pop, I look forward to using your instructions in the future to decorate my rooms. 

                  • Alicia DelMastro
                    Alicia DelMastro

                    Suzie, what a practical example for a life hack! I love this! :) 

                    • Kendall Stevenson
                      Kendall Stevenson

                          What do you think?

                      • Susan Granata
                        Susan Granata

                        @kendall stevenson, gorgeous lilies!

                        • Susan Granata
                          Susan Granata

                          Kendall - you've officially sent me more flowers than my husband - you'll make him jealous!

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