Use the arrangement's purpose, be it for a bridal shower centerpiece or to brighten up the kitchen table, to help guide your flower selection and choose a form.
Choose a color palette, using a color wheel for guidance, that is either all warm, such as red, yellow and orange; all cool, such as blue and violet; one solid color; or complementary colors such as red and green or purple and yellow.
Gather flowers in the colors you have chosen, and foliage, all of different sizes, shapes and textures. Purchase them or cut fresh flowers with shears in the late afternoon or early morning. Harvest flowers that are in bud stage or are just beginning to bloom. Remove foliage at the bottom of each stem and place them in hot water mixed with preservatives.
Select a container with a color and shape that will complement the type of arrangement you plan to create and the purpose of the arrangement.
Decide whether to build a line arrangement, a simple, Japanese-influenced style; a mass arrangement; or a line-mass arrangement. Let the vegetation and container help dictate a design.
Choose a holder, which is a form placed in the container that will hold the flowers and other material in place. Use pinpoint holders for line and line-mass arrangements, chicken wire for mass arrangements or floral foams that are most suitable for line-mass or mass arrangements. Cut the holder to fit the container and affix it to the bottom with floral clay.
For a line arrangement, use only a handful of flowers, leaves and branches to create a symmetrical, sparse line arrangement that still aims for fluidity and action when viewed from the front. Use the tallest branch in the center and successively shorter material on each side and in the front.
For a mass arrangement, focus on color and bunch the flowers and foliage randomly to form a mounding circle, dome, oval or triangle that can be viewed from any angle. Cut wet foam to tightly fit the container and reach about an inch above it. Create a focal point with the tallest, straightest flower. Place two nearly horizontal stems on each side. Horizontally insert a shorter stem in front to create depth. Include different foliage colors, sizes and shapes. Ensure flowers used at the top face slightly up and those at the bottom slightly down. Fill large gaps but avoid overcrowding.
For a line-mass arrangement, emphasize either the line or the mass in a shallow container. Insert the tallest stem to one side and closer to the rear. Place progressively shorter stems closer to the front and curving around. As they move away from the focal point, slant them toward it. Add variety amidst the main stems with flowers, leaves and other foliage.
Inspect the finished arrangement and add or remove material as needed to create a balanced look. Fill the container with water.