Tips for decorating with flowers

A bouquet of flowers isn't just for young lovers or weddings — the right floral decoration can really bring a room to life.

Tips for decorating with flowers

Summer's a great season for taking advantage of your garden's bounty by using fresh-cut flowers; in winter, dried flowers and arrangements add a nice touch.

Cut flowers

A nice bouquet of cut flowers is great, but try to prolong your enjoyment of them for as long as possible.

  • Gather cut flowers only during dry weather. Snip off blooming flowers in the morning and those that haven't yet bloomed in the evening.
  • Cut the stem on a slant so they can absorb as much water as possible. This will help them last longer.
  • Put flowers into lukewarm water right up to the bloom immediately after picking, preferably in a bucket. Before you arrange them in a vase, cut the stems again.
  • Spray cut flowers with water occasionally to keep them fresh in the heat of summer.
  • Lengthen the life of flowers with a milky sap (like poinsettias and poppies) by dipping the stems in boiling water for 10 seconds to cauterize the stalk.
  • Gently remove lower leaves from the stem so there will be none in the vase water.
  • When flowers begin to wilt, shorten the stems by about 2.5 to four centimetres (one to 1.5 inches) and put them in hot water for a while, using a paper towel to protect the blooms from the steam. Then move them to deep, cold water for one hour before arranging them again in the vase.
  • Give extra support to the stem of a bent flower using wire or tape.

Floral arrangements and aids

Beautiful floral arrangements can be fashioned out of both fresh and dried flowers. Here's what to take into account:

  • Never combine more than five different types of flowers.
  • Add the greenery first, then add the tallest flowers (for structure), which generally occupy the centre of the arrangement.
  • Next, add the filler flowers (shorter blooms). Opt for a simple dome-shaped arrangement, (which will look beautiful from all sides), and try to distribute the filler flowers evenly.
  • Add a little more visual interest with some trailing greenery that droops over the edge of your vase or container.
  • Use moss with fresh flower arrangements, since you'll need to moisten it regularly.
  • Pebbles or marbles can add a decorative touch to an arrangement in a tall glass.

Vases and vessels

When you're adding flower displays to your home decor, the flowers themselves are a major part of the equation. But another aspect to consider is the vessel in which you are placing your blooms. The vase you choose will depend largely on context.

  • Pewter vessels harmonize nicely with peach-coloured blossoms.
  • Use an attractive bottle for a single, tall flower.
  • A wooden frame turns into a living picture if you drill holes in the bottom for test tubes and fill the tubes with a continually replenished display of fresh flowers.
  • Woven baskets are well-suited for wildflowers and cornflowers. To keep the flowers from wilting after you pick them, immediately insert the stems into plastic bags filled with water and tie them up carefully.
  • Terracotta pots make rustic, but pretty, containers for many types of flowers, including branches from berry bushes and evergreens. They also go extremely well with balconies and sunrooms. Just make sure they're lined, so that moisture doesn't leach from the soil.
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