Floral arranging is a highly personal art form. There are no hard and fast rules other than to create a look that you enjoy and one that complements your home or special event. There are some tips, however, that you can follow to make the flower arranging process easier and more creative.
Floral arrangements do not have to be limited to standard glass vases. Use any container that holds water for your flower arrangement. A ceramic pitcher, decorative tea kettle, rustic tin bucket, and even water goblet can display floral arrangements beautifully.
Support your arrangement by choosing the correct type of floral foam. For live flowers, choose green. Soak it first by dropping it into a bowl of water. Let the foam absorb the water for about half a minute--the top of the foam should be level with the water's surface--then remove it from the water. Let it drain before you insert the flowers into it.
For dried flowers, use brown floral foam. If you are using a bud vase or other tall, slender vase, you do not need to use foam at all. Cut the foam to about an inch higher that the rim of the container.
Choosing the Flowers
Most floral arrangements have three groups of flowers or foliage. The first group is called line flowers. These flowers are tall and slender, and add height to your arrangement. Curly willow twigs, snapdragons, eucalyptus leaves, delphinium, and other similar plants are all commonly used line flowers.
Mass flowers are flowers that add mass, or bulk, to the arrangement. These are usually flowers that have a rounded shape and are the focal point of the arrangement. Often, there is only one flower on each stem. Common mass (sometimes called "face") flowers include the popular roses, daisies, mums, carnations, lilies, and the long-lasting alstroemeria.
Filler flowers are used to connect mass and line flowers and to "fluff out" the arrangement. Choose graceful foliage, such as ferns, ivy or large-leafed plants, or choose tiny flowers on thin stems, such as baby's breath.
Preparing the Flowers and Water
Strip the stems of any leaves below the water's surface before arranging them. Otherwise, they will rot and cloud up the water. Make a fresh cut on the bottom of the stems, at an angle, directly before placing the flowers in the foam or water. This opens up the stem and allows the flower to "drink." Add cut flower food to the water (available at any florist or garden center) as well.
Arranging the Flowers
If using floral foam, start in the center and work your way outward. Begin with your mass flowers. Slide the stem into the foam carefully. Do not pull it out and re-insert it into the same hole, as that will create an air pocket. Instead, create a new hole. Create interesting shapes and textures by alternating colors and flowers types, but keep it balanced--do not put all of the brightly-colored flowers on one side of the container, for example.
Flower arrangements that feature just one or two types of mass flowers can be both simple and dramatic. If using one type of flower, turn the flower heads different directions, so that they are not all "looking" forward. Leave space for filler flowers and line flowers.
Fill in your arrangement with line and filler flowers or foliage. Long, twisting sticks, ornamental grasses and pussywillows make a strong contrast against ruffled petals of roses and carnations. Drape ivy down around the rim of your container for a romantic look. Spread the fillers and line foliage throughout the arrangement so that it is balanced. Arrangements can be equally wide and tall, or they can feature taller flowers in the back with shorter flowers in front--it is a matter of personal taste and how the arrangement will be used. Floral arrangements used as centerpieces, however, should be short enough so that the guests can see each other and converse over the flowers.