During the winter, I took floral design classes, spending the long dark nights learning the mechanics of boutonnieres, bridal bouquets, corsages and the like. Initially, I wasn’t great at making flower crowns, but somehow they ended up being my “thing.”
Or maybe they’re just a thing. This summer, I got requests to make them for all kinds of occasions, including a summer solstice party, First Communion, high school prom, and a casual outdoor wedding. I also sold hundreds during the course of three days at the Newport Folk Festival. Credit Lana Del Rey or the resurgence of festival style; either way, flower crowns are in.
It’s not hard to make your own, although I recommend doing a trial run (or several) for practice first. Besides the flowers, everything that you need can be found at a craft store.
Whether you’re at a florist’s shop, a well-stocked grocery store, in the garden, or foraging, picking out the flowers to use will probably be the hardest part. Unfortunately, what looks great in a vase doesn’t always look great on your head. Here are my tried-and-true favorites:
• Small, sturdy blooms like carnations and spray roses last the longest, and, as an added bonus, dry nicely.
• Waxflower, thistles, or baby’s breath help add texture, and are astonishingly long lasting.
• Incorporating some greenery gives your headdress a “fresh from the field” look. I like to use bonsai eucalyptus because it has a long shelf life, looks great with just about any flower, and smells amazing.
How to assemble the flower crown
Step 1. Cut paddle wire to size
Wrap the wire around your head to measure its width, and then cut the wire a few inches longer. Depending on your personal style, you may want to wear the flower crown low across your forehead — festival-style — or pinned back a few inches above your hairline.
Step 2. Make the base
Bring the ends of the wire together so that they overlap and form a circle, and twist them together. Before you continue to the next step, try on the wire base and make sure that it’s not too loose or too tight.
Step 3. Secure the shape
If the fit is comfortable, secure the twist by wrapping floral stem tape around it. This also prevents the wire’s ends from poking you or getting caught in your hair.
If you’ve never used floral tape before, you may find it frustrating at first. The trick is to cut a small piece, no longer than an inch, and pull it between your fingers to activate the adhesive before you begin.
Step 4: Add the flowers.
Now for the fun part! Cut the buds of the flowers, leaving about an inch of the stalk to tape to the wire base. Be sure to fully cover the cut end of the stem with tape, since that will help it retain water and prevent the blossom from wilting too quickly.
How many flowers you add and where you place them is totally up to you. Personally, I find that the simplest style — a cluster of two to four buds plus a few springs of greenery placed one one side of the head — looks good on absolutely anyone. If you’re going for a bolder look, you can completely cover the wire circle with blooms and foliage.
Step 5: Pin it on
Once you’re satisfied with your design, put on the crown and do a quick test. Can you dance? Run? Nod your yes and shake your head no? If any of these activities cause it to fall off, use bobby pins to affix it in place.
It’s almost impossible to predict how long a flower crown will last, although it’s reasonable to expect it to look fresh all day. Keeping the petals away from sun, wind, heat, or rain will prolong their life. Imported flowers have often already spent days in airplane cargo holds, so it’s worth checking to see you can buy cut stems from a farm in your area. You can also treat the flowers with floral spray after you’ve made the headband, which will help preserve them longer, but if you prefer not to use chemicals, feel free to go au naturel.
Of course, you could use silk flowers to make something more permanent. But the whole point of a flower crown, in my opinion, is that you don’t wear one on any old day. By their very nature, flower crowns mark a special occasion, and, as such, should be a little bit fleeting.