Design

3 Ways to Arrange Supermarket Flowers

Now and again, I treat myself to a bunch of flowers from the deli, but when I put them in a vase at home, they look… blah. The flowers hang haphazardly over the vase, the stems are too long, and the whole bouquet looks messy. Happily, my friend Kendra Smoot, a prop stylist, agreed to share three beautiful ways to arrange flowers at home…

Gerbera daisies:

1. The idea here is that even the most basic flowers can look good if you stick to one type and color.

2. Put a bunch of daisies in a smaller vessel than you think. Most people put flowers in too big of a container, which makes them look too loose and too few.

3. Also, get creative with the container you put them in—the glass I used here was from a burned-out candle. A pencil jar, soup can or a tea cup would also make great “vases.”

Bunch of roses:
1. First we want to “process” the flowers. Trim off the bottom 1″ to 2″ at a sharp angle. Strip all but the top leaves, and remove the outer petals.
2. We want these roses to be looser and more open. To do this, place them in warm water and GENTLY open them with your fingers (I blow on them, too, while doing this).
3. Bitty hair ties are a great secret to flower styling—they hold the bouquet tight but let you arrange individual flowers to create a pretty shape.
4. Then hold the bunch of roses up to your vase and trim the stems to size, cutting them an angle again. Here, I tied twine around the elastic to make it look more natural.
5. To keep your flowers healthy, be sure to change the water daily.

Pick your own bouquet:

1. Choose flowers within a tight color palette, and choose different sizes of blossoms for texture.

2. If you can, grab a stray branch or two on your way home from a bush or tree—these add a loose, relaxed, more “gathered” quality.

3. If you’re going to give away the bouquet to a friend or bring it to a dinner party, here’s an easy way to wrap it: Layer a damp paper towel on top of Saran Wrap and wrap around the trimmed stems, again cut at an angle. Then cover with tissue paper; the paper saved from packages or old gifts that has been a little crumbled and has more body is great.

Thanks so much for these tips, Kendra! Do you guys have any helpful tips for flower arranging at home? Would love to learn more…

(Photos by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo; styling by Kendra Smoot)

  1. I’ve never bought supermarket flowers but my mind’s changed now after reading this post. Awesome tips :)

  2. If you are looking to make a florist-type arrangement, you need to buy buy a bunch of of fern leaves along with your flowers. Our supermarkets here usually sell a bunch of greens for about $3. Start out arranging the fern leaves in the vase working from the outside in. Not all of the leaves well go all the way to the bottom, so doing the center last allows you to prop up those stems on the ones you’ve already placed. Next spread out any baby’s breath or small wispy flowers evenly between the leaves. Lastly, arrange your flowers, again not pushing them all the way to the bottom of the vase. You want the base of each flower to start slightly above the level of the baby breath and greens. Lastly, make sure you have enough water in the vase to cover the bottoms of all of your stems, usually the water level should be within a few inches of the top of the vase.

  3. I tried your tutorial this evening with some bargain fucsia-hued roses from Whole Foods, and tied them up on display in an $8 spherical glass vase. They look as though they came straight from the florist!! Thank you, thank you! Mystery solved.

  4. I work for an organic co-op and was recently researching the flower industry for a post on organic vs conventional flowers and it is absolutely shocking the amount of chemicals that are on most grocery store flowers that if you are anything like me, you stick your face in and breathe deeply of when you buy them. Great post, but I would highly recommend trying to find organic flowers when at all possible. For more information check out my blog post here: http://nofoodfromstrangers.blogspot.com/2013/02/roses-are-red-violets-are-blue-flowers.html

  5. Thank you so much for this post Joanna! Great tips !

  6. This is beautiful. Kendra is such an amazing stylist.

  7. yes, I think limiting the palette and variety actually lends a lot of elegance to flowers; also, buying multiples of the same flower increases the impact and makes them seem more … hm … planned, I guess. Intentional.

    My favorite floral arrangement I ever did (for a spring equinox party) involved pairing cheap waxflowers and pink spray roses with purple hellebores and dusty miller from my own garden in low vases. A few cheap things classed up with a few expensive things (my neighbourhood florist had to get the hellebores in special for me) is a nice way to get a striking end product for less than you’d expect.

    But about the oversize vase, I must disagree: sometimes, the vase is the statement! I speak of a particular example: my husband spent a summer in Scandinavia during his Master’s studies in Architecture, and brought me home a gorgeous, large Alver Aalto Iittala vase. A few perfect blooms leaning at an angle in that classic Scandinavian shape are so elegant, you don’t need anything else to make a striking statement!

  8. This is a great article and I love, love, LOVE the shoes in the final picture! Where on earth can I get a pair?

  9. love that last arrangement :)

  10. I went home last night and re-cut and re-styled my valentines day flowers based on these tips. They look amazeballs now!

    Gracias!

    Christy Lee

  11. lovely!

  12. Thank you so much for these tips, I am terrible at making bouquets. I am just not the girly type I figured, but with these instant – and not too hard – tips I think I can manage to make my own bouquets at home.

    Love,
    Nancy

  13. That paper towel & wrap trick is awesome :)

    My favorite trick is using clear tape to make vases/ containers smaller at the neck. I either tape a square on the inside of the neck so the flowers are held up & don’t spray out too wide. Or I do a row of square (like for playing Os & Xs) & put one rose in each – great to take advantage of long stems & make the bunch look bigger. Can add in some branches or greenery to each square too.

  14. LOVE this post – thank you! Love love love those roses – and the gathered, rustic look of the bouquet, perfection.

    Jess | brownpaperbelle.com

  15. Best post ever! I also buy flowers for myself sometimes as a treat but them am disappointed by how they look at home.

  16. How timely! I recently decided that, given my inability to sustain a houseplant, I’d start getting pretty bouquets. Plus, my boyfriend got me a gorgeous aqua-colored vase for Valentine’s Day. These are some helpful tips.

  17. A trick I learned…put tape on the top of your vase first horizontally then vertically making a cross hatch patern. Intsert your stems through the open spaces. This will keep them upright in whatever shape you decide your bouquet to be. The tape will not be seen ;)

  18. these are such pretty ideas. recently, my mother brought this really odd and nice narrow vase. so i took the carnations (yellow, pink and orange) and spread them like a fan. they look so fun and royal at the same time!

  19. My friend, Kerstin, is the owner/designer at Blue Magnolia and is a total whiz with floral design- very much like your friend, Kendra, and these gorgeous arrangements. And I think both Kerstin and Kendra make a great suggestion with placing the bouquets in different vase heights. That variety makes for a more dynamic room, to my taste anyway.
    Loved this post, Joanna! Beautifully done…

  20. ahhhh! can you even imagine all the tricks up a prop stylist’s sleeve? great post.

    becoolmom.com

  21. I do love that you can buy beautiful flowers from the corner deli for very little money. Adds some freshness and color to a small apartment!

    These are gorgeous pictures and great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  22. These are beautiful! I love to use some glass decanters that I bought at Tuesday Morning store because they’re narrow at the neck, but open up slightly at the top to allow for a beautiful setting for flowers (especially full hydrangeas). And bonus, they double as my pitchers I use to serve water with when I have guests over for dinner!

    I also just posted a tutorial on my blog about how I made DIY bouquets for my own wedding in October..they turned out lovely, and were a third of the cost of a florist!
    http://savvystyle.net/2013/02/12/diy-wedding-bouquets-for-under-350/

  23. I find the restrained species and colour palette is so key for making grocery store flowers look good – a nice dense cluster of white and green chrysanthemums; or a vase of white and peach coloured alstroemerias is always cheery… even this idea of tightly clustered carnations looks lovely!

    http://bios.weddingbee.com/pics/246657/a100078_carnationbouquet_l.jpg

  24. Any tips for saving droopy roses?

    • yes! If you trim the bottom of your roses each day and add fresh water, they will last a full week. xo

  25. EC says...

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  26. What a great post! :) Right now I am looking at some flowers I picked up from Trader Joe’s and this post has inspired me to freshen them up a bit.

  27. I often get an inexpensive mixed bouquet from the grocery, then separate all the blooms by type or color and create a series of small monochromatic/botanic bouquets in mint julep cups.

  28. great tips! i’m inspired to go get some fresh blooms for my home right now!

  29. I wish I could do this! I’m a grad student living off of loans. Every time I see flowers I think, “That will cost me twice as much in the long run…”

    Someday. These really are beautiful.

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  31. Those are great tips for people who might not buy flowers that often, it’s so easy! I love having flowers in my apartment as it makes it feel more alive and also more elegant. I’ve always learned that you should arrange flowers in uneven numbers so that they don’t flock together in two bunches… if you know what I mean. Another tip is that if you buy tulips – which are my absolute favorite flower – you should put them by the window or somewhere cold during the night and that way they keep longer. :-)

  32. great ideas—anyone know where to get flower pruning shears like those in the photos? flower stems can be tough to cut through with regular sheers…

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  34. Valentine’s Day always reminds me that I am a flower SNOB! I shudder when I see all my Facebook/Instagram friends posting photos of their identical, plastic wrapped bouquets. Couldn’t imagine anything worse!? This post is evidence that you can put together something lovely with a little bit of thought…

  35. Love this! I agree that using a smaller vessel is definitely the way to go! I personally love using mason jars as vases.

  36. Valentine’s Day always reminds me that I am a flower SNOB! I shudder when I see all my Facebook/Instagram friends posting photos of their identical, plastic wrapped bouquets. Couldn’t imagine anything worse!? This post is evidence that you can put together something lovely with a little bit of thought…

  37. This is great, especially for those of us still hanging on to our Valentine’s Day flowers! I have a bouquet of daisies that are still going strong, but probably need to go in a smaller container. Guess I have something fun to do when I get home!

  38. I never knew the trick about loosening a rose’s petals to make it “bloom” more – great tip!

    One of favorite things to do with a Gerber daisy is to trim the stem very short and float it in a square glass container filled with water. Simple, striking, and makes a good paperweight!

  39. thank you so much for posting this! i feel the same way. we have a deli down the street from our apt and i always want to stop by, but agree that they look blah when i take them home.

    i try using mason jars sometimes – that helps me a bit and i’ll make arrangements for the coffee table or dining room table.

    thanks for sharing!

    xx
    nicole

    http://www.nicoleandtrentnyc.blogspot.com

  40. i like the idea of tying the flowers with a rubber band (or something) so they stay nice and tidy. thanks!

  41. I hear that if you make a grid across the top of your vase in clear tape, that you can place the flowers into the open squares and they won’t automatically fall agains the sides of the vase. They will just rest on the sides of the tape and stay in place!
    I can’t wait to try some of these tips to brighten up the winter blahs!
    =)

  42. that hair-tie trick is GENIUS.

  43. such a beautiful flowers! is a good idea to arrenging home :) on my blog is a new post!

  44. jm says...

    I get Astromeria (spelling?) which they sell at supermarkets and they last really a long time if they are fresh. Also, tupis seem to last quite a while.

  45. I would love a post about which blooms last the longest, I always spend good money at the florist but they still seem to die so fast. Tips on types that last longer, and tricks to keep them longer would be great!

  46. I would love a post about which blooms last the longest, I always spend good money at the florist but they still seem to die so fast. Tips on types that last longer, and tricks to keep them longer would be great!

  47. jm says...

    If I were wealthy, I would have fresh flowers all the time. These are great tips. The roses look gorgeous!

  48. did you know if you put a penny in a vase of tulips, it makes them last longer? Somthing to do with the copper! xo

  49. love this post! i usually try to stick all in the same color pallet when picking flowers from the grocery/bodega. Now I know how to wrap them!

  50. Great styling tips. Love the roses.

  51. Thank you for the great tips! I’ve been wanted to fill our apartment with flowers, but I could never get them to look “lived in” if you know what I mean.

  52. “…grab a stray branch or two on your way home from a bush or tree…” Egads! Not from my garden!

    • While I do love most of these tips, I was thinking the same thing. Whose bush or tree are you stealing from? Yikes. I don’t think I would do this tip.

  53. Great tips! I find that arrangements are more aesthetically pleasing if I have at least three different blooms in one vase or container. Fewer than that (even if it’s just one) feels off for some reason. And I try to keep the numbers odd. Four and six feels weirder than five and seven.

  54. Thank you Joanna, this is great and definitely will be trying this out soon!

  55. This is great, I love the roses tip. Thank you!

    I add ice to the water my flowers are in. Every day, put some ice in there. It’s the same concept as the florists keeping the flowers in the fridge. It makes them last longer. Plus, condensation happens on the vase, and I take that as a reminder that the flowers are happening. now. It enhances my appreciation of them!

  56. great ideas! my husband got me tulips for valentines day that i put in a vase that was much too large because it was all we had. the next day, i snipped them shorter and put them in a mason jar. they’re blooming and happy now!

  57. Excellent tips..I love fresh flowers in my home and found this post to be extremely useful.Thanks!

  58. Fantastic tips, I love buying supermarket flowers (maybe three kinds in the same or similar shades) and stylin them up at home. I haven’t tried the hair tie trick yet, so I’m excited to give that a whirl!

  59. Love this post – I’m DREADFUL at arranging flowers, and this is a help!

  60. this is great! i always get a couple bunches when i’m at tj’s but they never look quite ‘right’. thanks!

  61. I never thought of the hair elastic idea! And that’s seriously genius, because flowers flopping all over the place is one of my major pet peeves with arranging. Thanks for the tips, Joanna!

    http://www.jbound.com

  62. Thanks for the tips:) Love the last one especially.

  63. oh thank you for this! i suck at flower arrangement. i think my problem is the too-big vases!
    kw ladies in navy

  64. Love those loafers! Any idea who makes them?

  65. One of my favorite things about living in Holland is the abundance of cheap, gorgeous blooms! Think 40 tulips for 5euro (!!!). Arranging them in funky unexpected containers has become a highlight of my week. (:

    • That is amazing! So very jealous!

  66. this might be my most favorite post EVER! I hit the same issue every.single.time. I purchase grocery store blooms..

  67. this is so, so pretty! i want to go buy flowers right now!!!

  68. Bookmarking this! And Kendra’s photographs are beautiful as usual. I always like when you two collaborate.

  69. Bookmarking this post ASAP! I’m a sucker for the $5 bouquets from the corner bodegas but you’re right, they always look lackluster. Thanks for the tips!

  70. Great tips! I am going to try these for sure!!

  71. Love this idea. I need some flowers to tide me through till spring!

  72. Oh how I love this post! I’m definitely buying some fresh flowers tonight!! It’s exactly the spring touch that my very winter world needs right now!!

    http://herestohappinesses.blogspot.com/

  73. These are gorgeous! I love buying my own flowers and arranging them, and these tips will come in handy. I have a friend who is dying to take a flower arranging class–wouldn’t that be fun??

  74. Perfect! I love buying flowers from grocery stores…Wholefoods has an amazing selection. :)

  75. Amazing post! :) I love your tips. And photos are sooo cute.

  76. these are fantastic tips! I knew the first two, but I love the last one…I could never figure out how to keep the flowers hydrated but secure! my other favorite thing is to do a line of big single blooms in their own little cups – great along a table or windowsill :)

    http://www.anna-bird.com

  77. What wonderfully practical tips! I see Trader Joe’s flowers in my near future. :)

    • Trader Joe’s has THEE best flowers, no?!

  78. Such beautiful flowers! I LOVE arranging my own bouquets.