The Tips and Tricks Every Floral-Novice Needs to Know

This article was made possible from our Alice’s Table blog – your source for tips and tricks for a simply joyous life.  These are the kind of tips you can look forward to in my classes. Check my events tab for the March class list!

Friends are coming over after dinner and you’re desperate to get fresh flowers on the table –  they’re the perfect little touch that pulls everything together and shows your guests that you’ve thought of every detail. So, you rush to the store to grab some flowers after work, you grab a pre-made arrangement, run home, stick it in a vase and voila… a very lackluster arrangement that could be diagnosed with a case of flower flops…trust us, we’ve all been there.

Relying on pre-made arrangements can quickly add up, and let’s be honest, it always takes a little too long to find a bunch that matches the aesthetic you entered the store with in mind. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to make it home with an arrangement you love, it always seems to end up in a sadder state than is started.

Today we’re here to tell you that even the freshest of floral novices can turn Whole Foods hydrangeas and Trader Joe’s lilies into a professional looking bouquet with these simple tips.


While the “English hand-tie” technique is seen as a classic technique in the floral world, it can be a little tricky to master because you have arrange and hold the bouquet just right before you tie it up forever. One of our favorite hacks for creating a sturdy centerpiece with no expert hand-eye coordination required, is a good ol’ tape grid. Using scotch or floral tape (either will work well, but floral tape is more water resistant), make a “tic tac toe” pattern on top of your vase. The grid will keep flowers upright as you start to build your arrangement, and best of all, will give you the flexibility to play around with different placements as you build out your centerpiece.


Designing your own arrangements can be overwhelming, but we always start with greenery and go from there. The benefits of greenery are endless! It usually lasts a long time, it’s inexpensive, and it makes your arrangements look more lush and full without having to load them up with flowers.

One of our favorites is ruscus, which works well in a water-based arrangement because of its waxy leaves. It won’t deteriorate quickly and bring your other flowers down with it. For a winter arrangement (or Valentines Day!), hypericum berries are a great touch because of their festive, holly-ish look. They come in a variety of colors, including holiday-ready red.

We recommend adding your greenery to your vase first, and from there, threading your flowers in between the greenery stems. This helps keep your flowers upright and also creates a base against which your flowers will pop.


It’s a common misconception that flowers need cold or room-temperature water to thrive. Pretend you’re making a bath for a baby, because cold water will actually shock the flowers’ stems and keep them from lasting. Warmer water will coax the flowers into opening up, really upping the wow-factor of your bouquet.

To make sure your flowers stay hydrated, cut them approximately one inch from the base at a 45 degree angle. Doing this before building your arrangement will give your flowers more surface area to absorb water.

And don’t forget to check your water frequently, especially in the beginning! Fresh flowers drink more than older flowers, so you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping the water supply up in the early days.