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By Samantha Burbach, Director of Education & Programming – 02/09/2022   Giving flowers for Valentine’s Day has been a tradition for centuries, and the number one flower type for this romantic holiday is the red rose. There are many ways that roses are given for Valentine’s Day, or other times of the year, ranging from long stem, short stem, one dozen, half dozen, single stem, pre-arranged, mixed with other flowers, or wrapped in cellophane. No matter how you gift roses, you really can’t go wrong! Today, let’s talk about how to keep a cut flower arrangement lasting longer and how to simply arrange flowers if you’ve been given some that are not already arranged in a vase.

Tips to keep a cut flower arrangement fresh

When you receive flowers, there is some simple care that will help your flowers last longer.

  1. Placement – Keep your flower arrangement away from any heat sources or drafty areas and keep the flowers out of direct sunlight.
  2. Water – Change out the water in your vase every day or two and make sure the water level is about an inch from the top of the vase.
  3. Floral preservative – If you have floral preservative to add to your vase’s water, be sure to use it! This will help provide extra sugars for the flowers, balance the pH of the water, and help prevent bacteria from growing. If you don’t have any preservative that is OK – changing the water daily will be a big help!
  4. Recut stems – When you are changing out the water in the vase, take the whole arrangement out of the vase while holding it like a bouquet, and give the ends of the stems a fresh cut. The xylem tissue that carries up water may become callused or clogged over time, so providing a clean cut every day or two will help the flower take up water and ultimately stay fresh longer.
  5. Remove leaves in the water – Any leaves, petals, or plant debris in the water can promote the growth of bacteria so it is good to remove all of these so that only stems are in the water.

Following these tips will help keep your flowers fresh and allow you to enjoy your arrangement for longer. Keep in mind that different types of flowers last longer than others in a vase, but these tips will generally keep cut flowers fresh for at least 5-10 days.

Did you receive wrapped flowers and have no idea how to arrange them in a vase? We’ve got you covered! Arranging flowers can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. A bunch of flowers may look well-arranged wrapped up, but they’re arranged to look nice from a top-view looking down on the flowers. Two things often happen you take wrapped flowers and set them in a vase. First, in a vase with a wide opening, once you set the flowers in the vase they flop outwards. Or, if you have a vase with a smaller opening, the flowers will stand straight up like an umbrella and you’ll see more stems than flowers. While the flowers are still beautiful, the arrangement could use some help. Let’s show you two ways to arrange flowers so they look like they were arranged by a professional floral designer! When arranging flowers at home, I look for a few things in order to influence my design.

  1. How many flower stems do I have to work with? Fewer stems of flowers will require a vase with a smaller opening to keep the arrangement more upright and less floppy.
  2. Do I have any “greens” to work with, such as leather leaf, salal, eucalyptus, etc.? When creating an arrangement in a vase, the greens create a support grid for the flowers to work into so that they stay in place. If I have a good amount of greens to work with then I can create a taller, more loose arrangement fairly easily. If I don’t have any greens, or maybe just one stem of leather leaf, I know that the flowers will have to make their own grid so I’ll have to make a more compact arrangement or keep the stems closer together by using a vase with a smaller opening.

Once I figure out how many stems I have to work with, both flower stems and greens/foliage stems, I can decide what type of vase to work with. A vase with a “waist” is often easiest to work with, but if you don’t have any vases, mason jars or cleaned out pickle or jelly jars work great as well!

Here I am going to show how to arrange one dozen roses in two different ways – one arrangement demonstrates what I would do if I had greens to work with and one arrangement shows what I would do if I didn’t have any greens to work with. Let’s start with the no greens, as that is often the case when receiving wrapped flowers and it is extremely simple!

Arranging one dozen roses with no greens.

When given flowers with no greens I like to keep the arrangement more compact as there are no greens to visually fill in empty space between flowers and structurally hold the flowers more upright. For this cute arrangement of roses, I’m going to use a cleaned out pickle jar!

  1. Fill the vase/jar with clean lukewarm water and add floral preservative if you have it.
  2. Remove leaves from the stems of the roses. You can keep the highest set of leaves on the stem if they are high enough to stay out of the water.
  3. Begin by holding one rose stem in front of your vase at an angle, so that it looks like the stem is resting on the rim of the vase. The flower head should extend a few inches beyond the rim of the vase. Cut the stem where it would hit the opposite side of the vase. The stem will not be standing vertically in the vase.
  4. Set the stem in the vase at an angle and see how it looks. If that is a good length, take the stem back out and cut 4-5 more stems at that length.
  5. Arrange the stems around the vase with even spacing and each of the stems resting on the rim of the vase. The stems will cross over each other in the vase, they should not be inserted straight up and down.
  6. Repeat this process with the rest of the roses but adjust the angles that the flowers will be inserted at so that the new flowers rest on the flowers already in the vase. It will create a dome shape.
  7. Rearrange the flowers as necessary to give the arrangement a nice shape.
  8. If there are still gaps, you probably need shorter stems. This will help all of the flowers fit nicely together.

You will be left with a cute little mound of roses! It is simple and elegant without too much fuss. This is an easy way to arrange when you have no greens to work with and/or you have short stems to work with. You can easily do this with fewer stems of flowers or different types of flowers as well. The less stems that you have, the smaller the opening of the vase can be.

Arranging one dozen roses with greens. If I have a good amount of greens to work with and I have longer stems, I like to keep the roses taller since long stem roses are more expensive than short stem roses. Keeping the stems longer will allow for a larger overall arrangement. For one dozen roses with greens, I like to use about an 8-inch tall vase with a smaller waist on it.

  1. Fill the vase with clean lukewarm water and add floral preservative if you have it.
  2. Begin by inserting stems of your greens. Hold the stems at an angle so the greens will lay across the top of the vase like a collar and extend past the edge of the vase by several inches and cut where the end of the stem will hit the side of the vase. The stems in the water should not have any leaves attached and should intersect each other to create a support grid.
  3. Continue adding more stems of foliage at different angles, standing the stems closer to upright as they move closer in towards the center of the arrangement vertically. Once you have a nice grid of your greens, you can start working with your roses.
  4. Remove any leaves that will be in the water.
  5. Begin holding one rose stem in front of your vase at an angle, so that it looks like the stem is resting on the rim of the vase. The flower should extend a few inches beyond the rim of the vase but not out as far as the greens. Cut the stem where it would hit the opposite side of the vase.
  6. Insert the flower stem into the vase at an angle so the stem rests on the rim of the vase at a slight angle. The flower stem should weave through the stems of the greens.
  7. Repeat this process with 3-4 more roses evenly spaced out around the vase.
  8. Continue cutting and inserting roses at greater angles to fill in the middle section of the arrangement. You will be creating a rounded dome or slightly pointed cone shape with the flowers. Use all but one of the rest of the roses to fill in the middle to upper portion of the arrangement.
  9. Hold the last rose upright in front of the vase at a height where it will fill in the top of the dome or cone shape. Cut the stem to length. If the stem is too short to touch the bottom of the vase, just give it a fresh cut, and insert it anyways; the support grid from the greens and other flowers should hold it upright in place!
  10. If you have filler flowers, such as baby’s breath or wax flower, you can add those in at this point as well.

Flowers make a beautiful gift for Valentine’s Day or just because! Knowing how to care for your flower arrangement can help it last longer and knowing how to simply arrange flowers in a vase can make receiving flowers wrapped in cellophane look professionally designed at home! The important thing is to have fun arranging the flowers and put your own creative spin on however you choose to design your flower arrangement!