4 Steps to Professional Looking Flower Arrangements

Why pay $60 for a centerpiece when you can pay $15? Once you have some basic supplies, you can make your own professional looking flower arrangements in less than an hour. 

In my last post, How to Shop at the Los Angeles Flower Market, I detailed the steps to shop wholesale in LA. After shadowing my friend Julie on her flower shopping trip, I went over to her house to learn about how she makes her flower arrangements.

Professional Looking Flower Arrangements

Step 1: Plan Where You Will Get Your Flowers

Plan to go to your local flower market or the grocery store for flowers. If I can’t get to the flower market, I like to get flowers at Costco and Trader Joe’s. I find Vons in Hermosa Beach has the best local orchids which last for months.

The best time to buy flowers is 1-2 days before you want to make the arrangements. This gives the flowers about 2 days to open up (especially roses).

Try to make the actual arrangements on the morning of the party.

Step 2: Get Your Supplies and Plan Flower Colors & Sizes

  • Get 3-5 short glass vases for the dining table. These square vases are great.  Alternatively, go to the dollar store, T.J. Maxx or Home Goods for some inexpensive vases.
  • Have a few other vases on hand of different heights for entertaining spaces. For orchids, get a bowl shaped vase which will be tall enough to cover the plastic orchid pots.
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Julie scored a bunch of these round vases on sale at Pottery Barn for $7 each! Unfortunately they are now gone.

  • Banana leaves to wrap around the flowers. An alternative to using banana leaves is wrapping the vase in ribbon or burlap.
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banana leaf

  • Choose your color scheme before going shopping for flowers. Do you want a mixture of colors or the same color in different shades? Julie likes the colors purple and yellow together. They are complimentary colors on the color wheel, so they help brighten each other. Julie likes to add variations in color (like orange) and add green or white as neutrals.
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Iris with Chamomile. Simple and elegant!

  • Have an idea of what size flowers you want. For dining table centerpieces, the bouquet should be small and short so it sits low on the table.
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Dahlias, Roses, Irises, Orchids and Stock flowers.

  • Choose flowers with different bloom sizes and textures. Julie usually has both “thriller”(main flowers) and “filler”(greens) along with background flowers in the same arrangement.
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Cymbidium Orchids can be placed one by one in a flower tube and then added to an arrangement. Or put the whole stem in a thin vase for a stand alone, clean and simple look.

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Get fancy with your filler flowers for a more luxurious finish.

  • Try to use flowers that are in season. They are easier to find and will be the best pickings.
  • Buy a bag of green moss to hide soil for potted plant arrangements (like orchids).
  • Avoid buying fragrant flowers for dining tables. They will compete with the food.

Step 3: Prep Your Flowers

  • Once the flowers are home, cut at least 2″ off of the stem, at an angle. The angles create more surface area for the flowers to absorb water. Place the freshly cut flowers in water. They are thirsty!
  • Trim all the leaves off.
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Dahlias. Julie puts her flowers in a large tub of water like this.

  • Keep them in cold water with flower food or a teaspoon of bleach to fight off mold – your flowers’ enemy.

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  • Keep the flowers away from direct sunlight and in a cool location.
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Chamomile flowers are great fillers.

Step 4: Create Your Arrangements

  • Make a grid on top of the vase with scotch tape, or secure the bouquet with a rubber band before placing it in the vase.
  • Wrap the stems in banana leaves in the short, square vases. They have a beautiful green color, and the width of the leaf is the perfect size for this type of centerpiece. If you don’t have leaves, wrap the vase with ribbon or burlap instead.
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Banana Leaf inside vase

  • Consider where you will place your arrangements and at what angle they will be seen. For instance, if the arrangement will be up against the wall, it can be arranged as a semi circle.
  • Start with a central flower and add other flowers around it.

Professional Looking Flower Arrangements

  • Start arranging with the heartiest flowers, as they can handle being jostled around.
  • Try to end with the most delicate.
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I love light pink and white flower arrangements.

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Ranunculas (pink), trachelium (dark purple), amaranthus (green hangy flowers). Dramatic, right?

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White tulips in full bloom, pink ranunculas and purple lisianthus.

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Put potted phalaenopsis orchids in a ceramic vase or bowl and tie branches together with thin string to keep in place. Add curly willows and/or bamboo sticks. Cover pots with green moss. Add a few small succulents to make fancy. Tiering the orchids between short and long will also give a more dramatic effect.

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I just bought these books that Julie recommended. They have great tips. Get them on Amazon The Plant Recipe Book and The Flower Recipe Book.

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Idea from The Plant Recipe Book: Walking Stick with air plants- cover base of air plants with moss and tie to branches. Air plants were $2.50 each. Walking Stick $12. Moss, $7 for large bag (L.A. Flower Market). And if you like this, you will love my post on Easy Succulent Arrangements in 15 Minutes.

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This gorgeous arrangement is from Growing Wild (first class local florist). But I think we can make it at home! I love the orchids and the light green anthurium (peace lily). They add a very special look

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Flower goal for next trip to L.A. Flower Market. And look how they folded the banana leaf into the arrangement. Gorgeous! Hydrangeas make arrangements full and fresh, don’t they? I just wish they had a longer life.

And there you have it! Your own creations with a lot of love. And a lot less $$! Are you ready to make your own professional looking flower arrangements? If you haven’t already, check out my blog post on How to Shop at the Los Angeles Flower Market. I hope this post was helpful to you! Leave a comment if you can!

Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt. A lifestyle blog by Jen Oliak.