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Floral Arrangement Tutorial

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How to Arrange Flowers The Prudent Homemaker

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I took a floral arranging class as a university student. I often say that that class and my public speaking class are the two most practical classes I attended.

Floral arrangement styles have changed over the years. I follow several florists on Instagram (who have styles I love but that are very different from what I learned), many of whom are also the growers of those flowers, and they have inspired me to grow flowers I have never grown before. I find myself really drawn to very full arrangements, and in order to achieve those, I need to be able to cut more flowers at once from the garden. In the past, my arrangements have been smaller, because I had fewer flowers in bloom at the same time. Changing the layout in my garden beds has allowed me to plant more flowers.

Want to grow more flowers in your garden without spending a ton? Check out my article on Growing Flowers for Less.

Earth Angel Roses The Prudent Homemaker

When cutting flowers from your garden, it's important to cut them early in the morning to reduce wilting. I find that the closer to dawn I cut, the longer my flowers last. This is even more important in summer when dawn temperatures are quite warm.

Cut your flowers at an angle with sharp shears, and remove any leaves that will be below the water line to keep the flowers lasting longer.

Floral Arrangement 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I like to use chicken wire balled up inside a wide-mouthed urn to hold my flowers in place. Chicken wire will rust after a few uses, but it's still useable. I prefer to use it inside a container where it won't show for that reason. In a clear vase, I'll use a flower frog.

You can use floral preservative, but you can also use an aspirin in the water, or just change out the water each day to keep disease from taking hold in your vase. At the very least, add water to your arrangement each day (which is usually what I end up doing). Fresh water each day is best, as it gives your flowers needed oxygen.

 Floral Arrangement 2 The Prudent HomemakerI started my arrangement with any long greenery that I want to use on both sides. Here I'm using Bells of Ireland, which I grew from seed. These are a long flower that usually grows tall, but mine grew more sideways with our constant wind, so I decided to use them this way instead. Often I'll use vines here, such as honeysuckle.

Floral Arrangement 3 The Prudent Homemaker

I use the chicken wire to hold the stems in place. I prefer chicken wire over floral foam for many reasons: it's less expensive, it can be reused, and you can move your stems if you don't love where you first put them.

Floral Arrangement 4 The Prudent Homemaker

The next thing I added is a large Cafe au Lait dahlia on each side. A large flower or three are easy to add at the beginning. If you have several large blooms, the general rule for flower arranging is to have an odd number of them. In this case, I only had two dahlias in bloom, but on each side of the table, only one will be visible.

Floral Arrangement 5 The Prudent Homemaker

 Next, I added in several roses from the garden. These are a combination of David Austin and Kordes roses.

Floral Arrangement 6a The Prudent Homemaker

 Lastly, I added short bits of honeysuckle in bloom. 

Floral Arrangement Tutorial 6 The Prudent Homemaker

In my garden, I try to always have something ripe to eat throughout the year. I am now working to also always have flowers in bloom to be able to cut flowers each week for the house. It means doing a lot of succession planting and also seeking out flowers for each season of the year. Erin at Floret has a great article on succession planting; it's designed for flower farmers, but you can apply the same technique in your own garden.

June Floral Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

This is the other side of the arrangement. Having enough flowers in bloom in the garden at the same time  for this full of an arrangement is a challenge for me, but I am planting more flowers each year so that I can make arrangements this large more often for our home.

Looking to learn more? Here are two great floral arranging books from two of my favorites:

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

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It's in the upper-80's here (about 30º C) and I'm spending every possible minute outside, working in the garden. I am working to make a more abundant garden this year, with more food and flowers than ever before.

While the front yard is a white garden, the backyard is where I plant flowers of several colors. I can see most of these from inside the house as I look out the windows.

March View From the Door The Prudent Homemaker

Daffodils in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

The daffodils are in bloom along with several of the fruit trees.  They smell wonderful.

March Sunrise 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I am loving the pink from my peach trees. I am hoping to see lots more color in the garden later this year, as I have planted both pink and yellow rose bushes and seeds for poppies, larkspur, and zinnias.

March Daffodils in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker


March Miniature Daffodils The Prudent Homemaker

The miniature daffodils I planted around the circle have come up. They are teeny tiny.

March Sensation Lilac The Prudent Homemaker

I added a new lilac bush to my garden this spring, which doesn't require any chilling hours. It's called Sensation. I like having some purple in the back of the bed. The violet-crowned hummingbird that I have been seeing in the garden this spring has already found this new bush.

March Pots The Prudent Homemaker

This corner is full of nasturtium flowers, and you can see more of the miniature daffodils, which I planted in all of the large pots on the patio. Nasturtiums are one of the least expensive ways to add flowers to the garden; you can buy seeds just about everywhere, they spread out (and down) and they reseed readily. You can collect seeds to plant next year if you don't get enough volunteers, or if you just want more to plant in more places. As a bonus, both the flowers and leaves are edible.

March White Bench The Prudent Homemaker

I really enjoy the birdsong while I am out working in the garden. 

I'm planting more flower seeds today. I hope to have many more flowers out here later this year!

March Bee on Pear Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker


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Thanksgiving Centerpiece final The Prudent Homemaker

A low floral arrangement works well at a meal, so that you can see over it to converse with the people across from you.

I started with a wide-mouthed pint-sized canning jar. You can use anything you have--an old jar that used to have food in it, a short glass--just something wide enough that it won't tumble over from being top heavy.

Fill the glass with lukewarm water if you're cutting fresh from the garden (and cool water if you're using storebought flowers). Over the next week, when you need to add more water to the arrangement, use cool water.

This time of year, I don't have a lot of flowers blooming in the garden, so I planned an arrangement that is mostly mixed greenery. If you don't have any flowers in your garden this time of year, but still have some evergreens, you can still make a beautiful arrangement with just the greenery, or you can add a small amount of storebought flowers to complete the arrangement.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I started this with a few vines that needed to be trimmed from the walkway. I cut passionfruit vine and Lady Banks' rose vines for each side of the arrangement.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 2 The Prudent Homemaker

I then cut and added euyonomus branches that needed to be trimmed. When I pruned my hedge in October, I left a few spots untrimmed so that I could cut from them later for arrangements. I pulled the leaves off anything that would be underwater, as leaves underwater drastically shorten the vase life of arrangements. These branches will last for 3 weeks or more after being cut.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 3 The Prudent Homemaker

I then cut some lavender, again tearing off any leaves that would be below the water line. Though it is not blooming at this time of year, the lighter shade of the greenery add a nice contrast in the arrangement.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 4 The Prudent Homemaker

Next I added three sprigs of dusty miller. Since this is bigger, and almost flower-like, adding an odd number of stems is good. As this arrangement is two sided, make sure to look at both sides of the arrangement when adding items.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 5 The Prudent Homemaker

I then added in my flowers. I cut three stems of roses from the few in the garden. Ideally, I would have many more than this, and there is room in the arrangement, but this is what I have blooming in the garden right now. 

Thai Basil The Prudent Homemaker

For a little more color, I added in some Thai basil flowers. If you don't have anything small flowering, you could add in some skinny bare branches.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece 6 The Prudent Homemaker

When I was done, I set the glass jar into a silver-plated medium sized mint julip container, but of course it can be left the way it is. You can also start out by tying a bow around your jar before you begin you arrangement.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece final The Prudent Homemaker


A note if using storebought flowers: You should always recut the stems of any flowers you buy before putting them in water to extend the vase-life. For a low arrangement like this, you'll be cutting them a lot shorter than they were when you purchased them. Cut individual stems different heights to fill out your arrangement. 

Grocery stores often carry less-expensive individual flowers to make your own arrangements. I've found the lowest prices and greatest selection at Alberston's. They carry bunches of individual flowers for $3 to $4 a bunch. I've occasionally also seen individual flower bunches at Walmart (especially carnations) for $3 to $5. 

You can also use this method to arrange a grocery store Thanksgiving bouquet. Start with greenery from your yard, and then add in the greenery from your arrangement, adding in the flowers last. Often there is one odd flower in mixed bouquets. If you don't want to include it in your arrangment, try putting it in a seperate bud vase (an old vinegar jar works well for this, too) to enjoy elsewhere in the house. Don't feel obligated to include all of the flowers in your arrangement if you don't like the way they look together--just make something different with the others.

Roses have the shortest vase life of this bouquet. They can be pulled out when they have died, and replaced with something else, or the arrangement can continue to look good for weeks with just the greenery.

Be sure to add more water each day, and change out the water completely as often as possible, replacing it with cool, clean water.



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Happy May Day!

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May Day Flowers The Prudent Homemaker

 Have a wonderful first day of May!

Poppy The Prudent Homemaker


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In Lieu of Flowers

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Branch Cuttings The Prudent Homemaker

I had a chance to peruse a Pottery Barn catalog recently. I know that a lot of bloggers have been making their own version of Pottery Barn offerings, so I looked at it with that in mind, wondering what new projects I would see online soon.

I noticed that it wasn't always the products that make the room appealing. The windows and molding play a huge difference in the way the room looks. The other thing I noticed is that all of the rooms have something green and living in them--and it's usually not flowers.

I love flowers. I would love fresh flowers in every room in my house. Flowers aren't always growing in my garden, however. Sometimes, it's just something green.

And that's okay.

Fresh greenery can help your spirit, too.

In many of the pictures, the green living thing was just branches. It's the same with the interior home pictures that you've pinned on Pinterest. Look carefully, and you'll see the way that simple cut branches can make a room look elegant.

I like to trim my euonymus bushes and put them in jars, and march them down the center of the table. They are fun in a windowsill, too.

Another super easy option is to cut leafy branches from a tree and put them in a tall vase or jar, and place it on a mantel, on your piano, on a table, or your bathroom counter.

Both of these options are simple arrangements that can brighten your day.

Here is what I've cut from my garden in the image above:

Euyonomous Cuttings The Prudent Homemaker


These are euonymus branches. They look similar to boxwood and I grow them as hedges in the garden. Eventually some will be tall enough to shape into spheres. When they grow taller or wider than you want them, give them a trim and bring them indoors. As long as the water is changed out, these should last three weeks indoors. These ones are contained in a jar that contained sauce from the store (the empty jar was given to me).

Jasmine Sprig The Prudent Homemaker

This is a spring of jasmine. It's done flowering for the year, but the greenery is still pretty. The vase had a bit of cork in it when I got it (for free) so I think it may have contained bath salts previously. One man's trash is definitely another man's treasure in this case.

Dusty Miller The Prudent Homemaker

This is dusty miller. Our nursery carries two types; the other type has lacier leaves. It's great as a base for flower arrangements, but it's also fascinating on its own. The vase is a store reproduction canning jar, which also was saved from the trash (this piece and the two above came from the same person who saved these jars from her trash for me).

Flowering Plum Branches The Prudent Homemaker

These are flowering plum branches, contained in a vase from the Dollar Tree, which also happens to look just like the one I saw in the Pottery Barn catalog--but for a lot less. I bought three of these, so I can also arrange them in groups. 
These trees are still young. As they grow taller this year, I am needing to take off the bottom branches, so that the branches will start higher on the trees. This is the second time this year I have cut the bottom branches (which these are) to shape the trees into what I want them to be.

Pomegranate Branches The Prudent Homemaker

Pomegranate branches are an easy trim; the plants like to produce an abundance of them towards the base of the tree, which need to be pruned. These are arranged in a vintage canning jar. Look for canning jars at garage sales and thrift shops at 50 to 75 cents each, or buy a new set of 12 for around 75 cents each.

Apple Branches The Prudent Homemaker

Apple trees have a good number of small branches in mid-summer. Cut the water spouts--the ones that are growing straight up in the middle of the tree. Those need to be pruned in winter anyway, so you may as well enjoy them now and allow your tree to spend its energy on branches that will produce fruit. These are in a vase from the Dollar Tree. I have them on my entry table, where a tall arrangement works really well.

Brighten your day today with something living from your garden!
Tagged in: Flowers The Garden
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Orchid 3 The Prudent Homemaker

I brought this orchid to church on Sunday as part of an object lesson. Women and men stopped me in the halls and in classes to ask me about it, "Is it real?", "Do you cultivate orchids?", and more. Everyone was fascinated by such a beautiful fresh flower.

I love fresh flowers. I love having them to look at every day.

Buying flowers is expensive, though.

Roses are easily $12.99 to $19.99 a dozen. They last a few days and then they're done.

Carnations last three weeks, and they're less money, but they just don't excite me quite as much as stargazer lilies, tulips, or daffodils.

Orchid 1 The Prudent Homemaker


Enter the orchid.

You can get orchids all year long, but I like to get them in the winter.

I bought this one in early November for $11.

Orchids seem expensive. At $11 to $20 each (from the grocery store), they feel a bit pricey, like roses.

Orchid 2 The Prudent Homemaker


However, while roses will have died in 3 days, this orchid that I bought in November hasn't wilted or lost petals. In fact, since I bought an orchid that had buds on it, it's still opening, ever so slowly.

Orchids are simple. If you forget to water them for a week, that's just how they like it. Give them a 1/4 cup of water once a week and they're happy.

They like it humid. Our homes in winter aren't usually humid, and I don't even live in a humid place; I live in one of the driest deserts in the world. To keep my orchid happy, I keep it on the bathroom counter. I can see it while I'm getting ready in the morning, and several times a day when I come into the bathroom. If you're having a party, you can move the orchid out to a table as part of your decorations.

They like low light, as they grow on trees (upside down from how you see them in stores, which is why the flowers are clipped to a stick, to keep them up. It's also why they are planted in bark). This makes them perfect to grow indoors.

You can keep one on your desk at work, and it would be fine on the weekends.


Orchid 4 The Prudent Homemaker

The flowers last for months. It is an elegant flower that stays in bloom.

Given a little care (and mostly neglect!) your orchid can bloom a second time, or even more (you can replant it in fresh bark in a year or two), but even if it doesn't, you've still gotten your money's worth, far longer than any cut flowers would do.

Have you grown orchids so that you can have fresh flowers every day?
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