Flower preparation and supplies


by Meg Laughon

  • Foraged or home-grown flowers – Cut flowers in early morning or early evening the day before arranging so flowers can take up a “good drink”. Place in a clean bucket of lukewarm water(gives flowers more oxygen, will keep them alive longer), in the dark, plunged up to their neck overnight.  This will give them the best start!
  • Cut stems a long as possible, bearing in mind placement and size of arrangement.
  • Remove any unnecessary foliage, especially any that lie under the water line.  Leaves left in the water create bacteria.  Removing foliage also ensure that the water goes to the flower rather than the leaves.
  • Store Bought Flowers – Re-Cut all stems( about an inch) after purchase or before placing in water.  Cut stems underwater to prevent an air bubble in stem that would prohibit flower from taking up water. Leave the flowers in cool water for at least an hour or so before arranging.
  • Frequent Re-cutting of stem ends will prolong the life of the flower.
  • Buckets/Jars MUST be clean.  Add a little bleach to water to prevent flowers from decomposing.
  • Try not to place your cut flowers in direct sunlight or near a heat source.  Keep as cool as possible
  • When forcing flowers to bloom, place near a radiator or in the sunlight.
  • Woody Stems –slit stem vertically about ½ inch up before placing in water
  • Milky Sap stems (Euphorbia, poppies, hollyhocks, poinsettia) –  Cauterize the end of stem by holding over burning flame until it turns black
  • Hollow-stemmed flowers (Delphinium, amaryllis) – turn stem upside down, fill the stem with water and then plug with cotton.  If you don’t have cotton, keep your thumb over the end of stem until it is under water.



Roses, Tulips, Droopy Flower Head:  prick stem directly under the flower with a straight pin to release trapped air and allow water to flow.  Re-cut stem, place in container of VERY HOT water up to the neck.  Let flower stand in water as long as it takes to “perk up”. Dip flower stem in “Quick Dip” before placing in water.

Hydrangea:  Recut stem, plunge the flower head in a bucket of cold water and leave as long as possible.  Overnight is best!

Peonies– require a lot of water!  Vase should be topped off every day.  To condition, float them in deep water overnight.  They can drink from their petals so the more the flower is in contact with the water, the better!  This should also work to revive wilting ones.

Hellebores – the older the flower head, the better it will condition.  Place cut flowers in very cold water up to their necks.  Overnight is best.  If the flower wilts, re-cut stem and place in hot water until flower revives.


Keeping Daffodils in a Refrigerator for an Extended Period of Time(Minnesota Flower Show)

Daffodils can be kept in a refrigerator for 4-5 weeks if necessary

Pick daffodils if temperatures are predicted to go below 22 degrees.

Keep the humidity high .  Create a tent with a plastic bag around the flowers to retain humidity in “frost-free” refrigerators.

Keep the temperature  34-36 degrees, as low as possible without freezing the blooms

Place blooms in deep containers, covering as much of the stem as possible.  Daffodils lose water through their stems, not the petals.

DO NOT STORE ANY fruit or aging produce in the same refrigerator.  Methane gasses from ripening fruit will kill the flower.

If the daffodil dies in  the refrigerator, remove it as soon as found.  If the flower wilts, re-cut the stem to open the pores and replace in fresh water.

Prolonging Peonies

Enjoy fresh peonies in arrangement through the end of June by doing the following:

Cut long, leafy stems in May when buds are open just enough to show a hint of color and feel like a marshmallow to the touch.

Place the peonies in a vase full of cold water to take up a good drink for an hour.  Remove the flower from the water and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate the stems, lying the wrapped steps on the shelf of the refrigerator.  Do not be surprised by the “wilted” look of the flower after several days!  Flowers can remain in the refrigerator several weeks “out of water”.

As needed, take the peonies from the refrigerator.  Re- cut stem. Place in warm – hot water.  Several hours later, the peony will unfold into a beautiful flower.


by Meg Laughon


Floral Foam (Green) water absorbent/instant “dots” for faster water absorption.

Floral Foam (Brown), -non absorbent used for dried/silk flowers

Chicken wire, green coated variety (flexible) – covers oasis and creates structure to hold arrangement together.

Knife –used for cutting floral foam

Tape/clear– used for glass containers, making grid on the top of a vase

Tape/green – used for holding floral foam in arrangements and secures chicken wire form in a vase, can bind the bottom of split stems

Stem tape – waterproof and will stretch to cover a bunch of flowers together or individually wired flowers and stems

Sharp Clippers – Make sure you put your name on them!!

Wire Cutters – use for cutting ALL wire!


Buckets, jars –Assorted Sizes. MUST KEEP CLEAN!!!

Floralife – hydration will increase water intake

Toothpicks/Pipecleaners– used in hollow stems to strengthen flower, (esp.daffodils)

Plastic vials –fill with water and is used to keep a single stem fresh, useful in garland or adhering to a taller stick for height in arrangement

Florist picks, hyacinth and bulb stakes – to heighten or support a hollow stem

Floral Wire spool – mostly used in making garlands. Comes in various thicknesses and is one long length on a roll

Stub Wire (12 inch lengths in various strengths) – used for wiring flowers, smaller the gauge, thicker the wire\

Binding wire – used to tie bouquets. Wire is wrapped in a thin paper which prevents cutting into a stem.

Raffia, Garden string – used to tie bouquets

Candle –some flowers with milky sap require burning stem end before conditioning.


“Baggies” – great for bagging small plants used in arrangements

Florist Clay, “Stickum” – used to adhere liners on arrangements or pin holders to containers

Watering Can with Spout

Water Mister – revives and hydrates flowers.  Have an extra mister for “crowning glory”/floral hydrater

“Frog”Pin Holders(glass or metal) – sit in the bottom of vase to hold arrangement in place.  Stick to bottom of container with waterproof glue or putty.  Make sure container/pinholder are dry before sticking together.

Marbles, polished stones – to stabilize flowers or to hide pin holders

Oasis Adhesive – used for corsage work

Green Glo – spray gloss for leaves, foliage

Turn Table – wonderful for turning arrangement while you work.

Sheet Moss – many uses! Will cover your sins!! See recipe to revive brown moss to green!

Wooden skewers – 12 inch(grocery store) – insert skewer in stem or spear fruit, veggies, plants you wish to add to an arrangement.

Crowning Glory – floral hydrater –mist on finished arrangement

Quick Dip – used to revive a wilted flower

Plastic bottles/containers – have various sizes for lining containers that are not watertight.  Cut down or remove top and slide into container.

Fern Pins – a u-shaped length of wire for holding things in place when making wreaths and working with floral foam.  Also will hold moss in place.

Bleach– cleaning buckets

Glue Gun

Glue Dots – for adhering ribbon, leaves to containers.


by Meg Laughon


Treat flowers as a natural part of life, an extention of your taste and preference.  Flowers in your home should look like they belong, complementing the colors, mood and style of your surroundings.  To achieve a natural, spontaneous quality in your arrangement, there are guidelines you can follow.  If you study a garden, you will notice flowers clustered together, and branches gently tapering away from edges.  To recreate this look, group species together with larger flowers in the center and smaller ones to the edges and break up the lines with trails and tendrils.  The key to positioning flowers in a room is “eyelevel”.  When making your arrangement, keep this in mind…will it be viewed on a tabletop, mantle or sideboard?



  • Consider colors used in the room
  • The closer together colors are on the spectrum (red-yellow-blue), the more easily they will mix
  • When in doubt, go with all one color, moving from the palest to the darkest within that color.
  • Cluster flowers vs. sprinkling throughout the arrangement to make a bolder statement of color.


Shape /Proportion

  • Container, vase should be chosen based on the size of the arrangement.
  • General rule:  Flowers are 1 ½ times the height of the vase
  • Consider – Will the arrangement be seen from all sides?



  • Shiny vs. Dull
  • Smooth vs. Rough


Container OptionsTHINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!!

  • Avoid shallow containers, BUT, if it can hold water, it can hold a flower!!
  • Collect containers in various sizes
  • Seek out the unusual at garage and estate sales, antique shops.
  • Baskets, pitchers, urns, terra cotta planters, buckets(cover with moss), salt cellars, glass, silver, brass, copper pewter
  • Unusual objects from the house
  • Bottles/various shapes, wire chicken, tea caddy, etc.
  • Liners will be necessary for some containers and are recommended!  Nothing worse than an arrangement that leaks!!