Flowers In A Vase: Your Ultimate Guide

Tulips in a vase

Everyone loves a beautiful flower arrangement. Flowers can convey a world of meaning without saying a single word. Floral arrangements are also the perfect way to add personality and visual pop to any room. By following our guide and tips, you’ll be able to make a beautiful and professional looking floral arrangement that will bring joy to all who see it.

Flowers In A Vase

two white vase with flowers

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Floral arrangements can be made using real or silk flowers. Real flowers may not last as long, but they are easier to work with because you can manipulate and trim them to create your desired effect. When you buy silk flowers, you’re stuck with what you get. 

When you choose a vase, make sure you think about the room where you’ll be putting the arrangement. A formal or unusually large vase will look out of place in a simple kitchen or on too small of a table. Conversely,  a large table or opulent room will dwarf a smaller vessel.

Where Can I Use Flower Arrangements?


table with book and flower vase beside couch

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Flower arrangements in a vase look beautiful anywhere. You can use them as a centerpiece on a dining room table, as decoration throughout a room, or when dining al fresco. You can look for unique ways to display flowers in a container other than a vase, too. For instance, a pitcher, glasses, mason jars, a bucket, or a basket would all be appropriate for displaying flowers.

How To Arrange Flowers In A Vase


To help you create the perfect bouquet for a vase, we’re going to show you how to build your arrangement from the bottom up. Follow our ultimate guide to arranging flowers in a vase, and everyone will think a professional florist did them.

Step 1 -  Vase And Water Care


vase with flower  in a wooden table

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Always start with the vase. Once you’ve chosen a vase, think about its size and color. The more detailed or bright the vase, the more neutral you’ll want your flowers. This technique will create a balance between the flowers and the vessel.

Make sure the vase is clean then fill it halfway with water. Even if you just removed an old bouquet, make sure you clean the vase again before adding new flowers. Next, add plant food and stir until it dissolves. 

You’ll want to change the water every three days or so. Large arrangements may soak up all the water in the vase by then, but even if there is still water left, you’ll need to dump out the old water. As the stems sit in the water, bacteria will build up. Bacteria-laden water will make your flowers wilt and die sooner.

If your arrangement isn’t too elaborate, remove the stems entirely and retrim them to expose new flesh to the water. Also, add more flower food. If your arrangement is too big or cumbersome to remove from the vase, gently press the flowers to one side as you tip the water out. Then use a pitcher to refill to the vase halfway.

Step 2 - Choose Your Flowers


vase with pink flower

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Purchase foliage or greenery to act as the base of the arrangement. You’ll want to purchase all your flowers with long stems so that you can trim them to the desired length. Also, buy more than you think you’ll need. Some may wilt before you can get them into water or the stems may break.

When choosing flowers, think about the vase you’ll be using. Is it tall? Clear? Round? Bright? Neutral? Big, medium, or small? Use the vase as a guide for picking flowers. Also, think about the room the flowers will be going in, the theme of the bouquet (romantic, summer, new mom, sympathy, etc.) and the recipient. 

If you’re new to floral arrangements there a few easy tips to picking out flowers, here are some ideas to help you create a pleasing effect.

  • Choose flowers that are all in the same color family (pinks, reds, yellows, etc.) in a variety of different types.
  • Choose all one type of flower but in a variety of colors. Arrangements of this type will look best if all the colors are within the same saturation range — for example, all pastels or all bright flowers.
  • Adding flowers with very long stems, succulents, bare branches or branches with berries or fruit, and even some vegetable leaves will add visual interest to an arrangement. Try to keep these items minimal so as not to overwhelm the flowers.
  • Using 3-5 types of flowers (not including your foliage) will keep the floral arrangement simple and elegant. Too many different flowers will create chaos and will be less aesthetically pleasing.
  • Keep in mind that you don’t need as much greenery for smaller vases or any at all - instead, choose a few bold colors and a variety of textures to keep the arrangement interesting but simple.
  • You can vary the height of the stems to add depth to your arrangement. Try leaving long-stemmed flowers like gladiolus several inches taller than your other blooms to create height.
  • Using a variety of textured flowers will add dimension to your floral arrangement. Look for flowers with petals that aren’t entirely smooth or have edges in different shapes.

Step 3 - Preparing The Flowers


different types of flowers

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You have to do a few things to prepare the flowers before they can go into the vase. First, remove all the leaves from the flowers or at least any that will fall below the water line. If there are leaves in the water, the amount of bacteria that builds up is going to increase a lot faster.

Next, trim your flowers to the desired length for your vase. Depending on how tall you want your arrangement to be, this length is going to vary. The general rule is that you should trim your stems so that the flowers don’t set any higher than one to two times higher than the height of the vase (or one to two times higher than the width for wider vessels).

That said, you’ll also have to take into account the shape of the vase. A short wide vase looks best with a short, full bouquet. A tall thin vase looks best with tall, thin bouquets. 

When you trim your flowers, use a pair of very sharp floral sheers. Trim the stems on a diagonal. This angle will allow more surface area for the flower to soak up water. Repeat this when retrimming after changing the water in a few days. Also, remove any wilted petals.

Step 4 - Building Your Arrangement


white vase between two basket

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Now that you’ve chosen a vase and have all your flowers and greenery, you can start putting your flowers in a vase. 

The first thing you’ll do is build a base for the flowers. A base will ensure a pleasing shape for the overall arrangement. Start by putting in your foliage, crisscrossing the stems. Or you could use floral tape to create a crisscrossing grid over the top of the vase. The tape will make a more structured arrangement rather than a more organic one.

Next, add your focal flowers. These are typically the bigger blooms, and there should be more of these than any secondary flowers. Distribute them evenly throughout the vase.

After your focal blooms, add any secondary flowers. These are typically smaller, and there should be fewer by type or color than the focal flowers. For example, if you have three roses as your focal flowers, then use two each of different color bouvardia.

Rotate the vase as you go to ensure an even distribution. Finally, tweak the stems or add to the flowers to fill in any gaps.

Final Tips And Thoughts


There are a few other tips you should keep in mind when putting flowers in a vase. 

For one, keep the flowers away from direct sunlight and heat. While potted plants thrive in sunlight, cut flowers are the opposite. A cool, dark place will make them last longer. Not that you want to keep your flowers in a dark room where you can’t enjoy them, but try to place them away from heat sources and direct sunlight, like in front of a sunny window.

Secondly, keep your flowers away from fresh fruits or vegetables. Many fruits, like apples or bananas, are often kept in a bowl on the counter or table. These give off ethylene gas. This gas will cause the flowers to mature and wilt faster. 

On another note, when working with different colors for the first time, think about complementary colors. Complementary colors are those opposite one another on the color wheel. Think blue and orange, or red and green. You can also use analogous colors -  those next to each other on the color wheel. As you get more experienced, you can try out different color combinations.

Lastly, experiment with different flowers, foliage, and vases. Arranging flowers in a vase can be fun and satisfying. Place flowers in a vase throughout your home or office to create warmth and personality. Giving flowers as a gift is a lovely gesture that anyone will appreciate. Keep experimenting, and before you know it, you’ll be an expert.

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