If you have a beautiful flower garden full of colorful blooms, high summer is the best time to enjoy it. Many flowers are at their peak this time of year, so you can steal some stems to bring indoors — there’s nothing like a fresh bouquet of flowers on your kitchen table to brighten up your living space! Home-grown bouquets also make great gifts for the host when you’re having dinner at a friend’s house or a last-minute birthday surprise for a family member.
Most of the work of preparing your soil and planting your flowers should be completed by midsummer, but it’s never too late to start a new garden bed as long as you keep new plants irrigated. At this point in the year, you should be able to find discounted annuals and perennials at your local nursery. These will give you a good start on a new flower garden and provide colorful flowers to cut for some summery arrangements. Choose annuals and perennials that are good for cutting for best results.
With your flower garden in full swing, it’s easy to make beautiful bouquets if you follow these steps and invest in a few floral supplies to make the job easier. You’ll get better with practice, but even your first attempts are guaranteed to brighten up your home with a touch of nature’s bounty. Let’s get started!
Essential Tools Of The Trade
Cutting and arranging flowers doesn’t require a major investment in supplies, but you will need a few important items:
Cutting Your Flowers Cleanly
When you head out into the garden, you’ll need your bypass pruning shears and a bucket of clean, room temperature water. It’s best to cut flowers early in the morning, before they are fully open and while they are still firm from the cool night air. Use your bypass shears to make one clean cut straight through the stem — regular scissors or anvil pruners can crush stems, causing damage to your plants and inhibiting the flowers’ ability to take up water in the vase, so these tools should be avoided. Cut as close to the main branch or to the ground as you can so you have the longest possible stem to work with, and dunk the flowers into the water immediately. When you’re done gathering flowers, find a shady spot to work and trim off all thorns and any leaves that are lower than one-third of the way down the stems.
Choosing Your Containers
While it’s technically possible to use any kind of vase for your bouquets, the easiest vessel for beginners is a standard, regular-mouth Mason jar. A pint-size jar works well with shorter stems, while a quart-sized jar is perfect for larger flowers. The opening of these jars is just right: not so wide that flowers flop over, but not so narrow as to crowd them and crush the stems. You can also purchase a specialized lid insert to help hold stems in place for a totally professional look. If you don’t have a Mason jar handy, look for a vase with a mouth about three inches in diameter for best results.
Arranging Your Bouquet
The easiest way to arrange flowers is to form the bouquet in your hand first. Start by making a triangle or square with three or four of your largest flowers (think roses, marigolds, peonies, or any other dense bloom to anchor your bouquet). Don’t worry about the stems being even — focus on getting those flowers in a grouping that you like.
Next, begin to add other flowers by layering them around your base in concentric circles that are slightly lower in height. This will begin to from a rounded mound of flowers. Continue to hold stems in place with your hand, and be sure to check it from several angles so that the work is even. Don’t be afraid to start over if it doesn’t look right! When you’re happy with it, wrap some florist’s tape around the stems to replace your hand as the fastener.
Finally, hold the bouquet up to your vase or Mason jar to measure how long the stems should be. Start by placing the vase at the edge of a kitchen counter. Hold the flowers in front so that they are the height you’d like them in the vase and let the stems hang below the counters’ front edge. Trim any stems that hang below the bottom of the jar. Pop the flowers into the vase and you have yourself a beautiful, handmade arrangement!
Preserving Your Bouquets
To help your pretty flowers last as long as possible, make sure that no leaves hang into the water of the vase. If they do, remove your bouquet and trim them off to avoid rot and bacteria growth in your water. Water should always be clean and clear, so change it every other day. When you change the water, use your bypass pruning shears to cut 1/4 inch off of the stems, which allows them to easily take up fresh water again.
It’s also helpful to feed your flowers to keep them bright and open for longer. The easiest solution is to add a packet of commercial flower food to the water of the vase, but you can also make your own by mixing 1/4 cup of 7-Up or Sprite with 3/4 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon of bleach. The sugar feeds the flowers while the citrus and bleach prevent bacteria and mold growth.
Choosing Your Colors
There’s really no right or wrong way to make a lovely garden bouquet, since all flowers are beautiful in their own way. To avoid clashing colors and have a sure-fire winner every time, consider these tricks for combining flowers gracefully:
- Go monochromatic. You can’t go wrong with a bouquet that features flowers that are all the same color. For example, highlight your purple flowers by adding deep royal salvia, lavender, and light colored lilacs or garden phlox.
- Add greenery. If you’re worried that your bouquet is too sparse, add interesting leaves to the mix. Large hosta and fern leaves will fill out your bouquet and help it look lush and bountiful.
- Opposites attract. Keep the color wheel in mind when selecting flowers for multi-colored bouquets. Choose complementary combinations like blue with orange or yellow with purple for visual interest. White flowers always work well as a third hue for blending.
With a little practice, your flower arrangements will become more interesting, and you’ll be able to make them more quickly. You’ll also develop an eye for which blooms look great together as different flowers grow and change throughout the season. No two bouquets will ever be quite the same, so enjoy the freedom to do something new with your flowers each time you get out those shears to make something beautiful for your home.