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All About Flowers, Bouquets and Arrangements


flower delivery PetalsHave you just received a beautiful bouquet for your birthday or anniversary? Did you just buy a bunch of flowers at the local florist because they were simply stunning? Whatever the occasion, you want to make sure your flowers remain at their best. You can make the most of them when arranging them in a vase for your home, office or in fact, anywhere! Here are some guidelines that can help you achieve the right look and balance when arranging flowers in a vase.

Many of our florists have years of experience in their industry... experience that they like to pass on to customers like you! Their experience and advice can prove invaluable next time you're looking to purchase fresh flowers or a gift basket. Petals has collaborated with Colleen Tyas of Thirteen Roses to create a great guide to buying and caring for flowers. Colleen Tyas is a career florist. She bought her first florist shop over 25 years ago before growing the business into a number of locations in Melbourne. After some time away from the business she has re-emerged as the creative direction behind Thirteen Roses/Rosetime. Our Petals' Florist Tips guide has been compiled with some of the best knowlegde in the florist industry.

What do I look for when buying fresh flowers?

Start by purchasing the best quality flowers that you can find. They should look vibrant and alive, not paper like or dry. The stems should be firm and clean without any slipperiness. The leaves should be green and lush. Generally, flowers that are in season will offer better quality and increased size at a lower price. Buy most flowers in bud or half open. You will have the pleasure of watching them slowly bloom and of seeing your arrangement evolve over time.

When purchasing fresh flowers the following characteristics should be considered:

  • When buying Roses & Irises the petal colour should be apparent. If they have been picked too tight, they may not open at all.
  • Gerberas should be fully opened.
  • Carnations and Chrysanthemums should be part to fully opened.
  • Gladioli can be purchased with all florets closed however the bottom 3 or 4 partly opened will help the arrangement.
  • Gypsophelia, Misty and Emille should all be fully opened.

How do I arrange flowers in a vase?

First and foremost, when you’re arranging flowers in a vase trust your instincts. If something looks too big or if colours clash, chances are you’re arrangement doesn’t look right. Secondly, you should use a clean vase and have a big, clean work space. Your vase is your main tool so don’t over fill it or cram flowers into a vase that’s too small. Having said that, there are a few guidelines that may help you achieve the balance and look you are seeking in the arrangement.

  1. For visual scale, it's recommended that you don't have the flowers sitting more than double the vase height. For example, if the vase is 25cm high, the flowers should be no longer than 50cm high. As always, there are exceptions though this is a useful guideline.
  2. Cut stems at an angle using sharp scissors. This allows water to move up the stem, even if the bottom of the stem is sitting at the base of the vase. Never break the stem by hand as this will inhibit water transfer. Tepid rather than cold water will assist the flower to draw the water into the stem.
  3. Strip away any leaves that will be below the water line. Leaves that sit in water will quickly decompose and encourage bacterial growth. The bacteria create a particularly unpleasant odour and can overpower the scent of the flowers. It also clogs the stems causing your flowers to wilt.
  4. Place foliage in the vase first and thread the flowers through the foliage. This will allow you to arrange the flowers in the vase the way you want. Cluster small flowers in groups. This will help you in arranging or moving them. It will also ensure they aren't "lost" in the shadow of larger blooms.
  5. Don't be too concerned about old rules of colour matching. Use the colours you like. Having said that, you may find it easier if you choose to have either colours working in harmony (such as a combination of pinks and mauves) or unrelated colours that are complimentary yet contrasting (such as yellows and purples).
  6. Remember that it doesn't have to be huge to be wonderful. A small vase of flowers is infinitely superior to none at all.
  7. Keep the vase clean using flower preservative or a small splash of bleach before filling with water. Over time, if the water becomes cloudy, then the bacteria have taken hold and it needs changing.
  8. To keep your flowers looking good for longer, find a place to display them that is cool and away from direct sunlight, heaters, heating vents, the oven and large appliances like the TV.
  9. Finally, to prolong the life of your flower investment we recommend removing the flowers from the vase and cutting 3 to 4cms from the bottom of the stems every three days. Clean the vase and refill with fresh tepid water.