Flowers are one of those things that don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful. Which isn’t to say that expensive flowers aren’t beautiful, but, if you know how, you can build a decent bouquet for about $10. Simply plunking them into a vase, however, will make them look like supermarket flowers. And don’t even think about giving an inexpensive, cellophane-wrapped bunch as hostess gift, birthday wish, or – gasp! – Mother’s Day arrangement, because you won’t exactly be sending the message that you care. Instead, take the time to deconstruct that store-bought bouquet and rebuild it. Five minutes is all it takes to earn a few wows and make it a little more special. Here’s how.
Choose one or two bouquets from the floral department at your preferred grocery store. For the bouquets here, I chose a few bunches from Trader Joe’s that ranged in price from $3.99 to $9.99. Look for interesting flowers with a variety of shapes and textures that aren’t wilted or brown. Not all the buds have to be open (you’re arrangement will continue to bloom if they’re not), but choose bunches with at least a few stems in bloom. Also look for arrangements that have colors that will work well together. (More on that below.)
Choosing a vase for a floral arrangement
Next, choose the vase, pitcher, or jar you want to use to hold the bouquet. If you don’t have any on hand, it’s easy to find vessels that don’t cost big bucks. The blue ceramic vase we used in our monochromatic arrangement (pictured below) was just $1 on clearance at our local Michaels craft store. The white enamel pitcher and tall glass beaker are from Ikea and each cost less than $10. Discount stores like Marshalls and T.J.Maxx always have a variety of inexpensive vases for sale. We also love a rustic look of the trio of bud vases purchased at Cory Farms, a local gift shop, which brings a little more character to the entire arrangement. Don’t be afraid to get creative and use something appropriate from your cupboards or cellar, like a tea tin or vintage-y coffee can, just make sure it’s appropriate fro the occasion. The point is, you don’t have to spend a bundle to find a vase that has panache and impact. I always keep extra vases and vessels on hand at home, which saves me time when I want to arrange a bouquet on the fly.
Read more: 5 Rules for Buying Perfect Flowers
DIY Flower Arrangements
Once you know what vase you’ll use, it’s time to get down to the business of deconstructing the flowers. Working at a table or counter, sort and group the flowers by color, so you can really see what you have to work with. Having them spread out in front of you also makes it easy to choose stems as you begin to arrange them. Working with groups of three (three stems of each type of flower throughout the bouquet, that is) will help keep the arrangement looking natural. And don’t cut stems before you’ve tried out the flowers in the vase – you’ll want vary the heights of stems within your bouquet. Try them out first, then cut them to fit. When you do, be sure to cut any excess greenery and leaves away from stems; this will help keep the water in the vase fresh and clean, which will help your bouquet last longer.
Monochromatic flower bouquets
Making a monochromatic floral arrangement is an easy place to start. By putting together flowers in the same color family, you create a stunning bouquet. Using different types of flowers will bring varied textures to the arrangement, and the green stems and leaves will break up the theme color, so it doesn’t become to overwhelming. To make the flowers really stand out, choose a vase with a complimentary color.
Contemporary and minimal flower bouquets
A contemporary or minimal floral arrangement is a simple group of flowers with unique, stand-out qualities requiring you to use fewer flowers. The intricate detail within the flowers themselves become the focal point rather than a mass of blooms. Look for flowers that have single buds, interesting shapes, or a bright color. The vase can also help contribute to a minimal look. Think dark grey ceramic, tall narrow glass, something metallic, or multiple bud vases.
Read more: A Field-to-Vase Approach to Bouquets
Casual flower bouquets
A casual floral arrangement is simple and unfussy, but still has finesse. To get this look, combine classic flowers such as lilies, roses, and sunflowers, which keep the arrangement uncomplicated and beautiful. Use a filler flower that has groups of small buds or delicate features to literally fill in the space between the larger buds. A simple white vase, like the pitcher we used here, really lets the flowers shine.
All photos by Maaike Bernstrom Photography.