Reader Question: Caring for Flowers

I got the following great question from Jessica:

"Thank you for the useful info on the your blog, I am looking at doing my own wedding centerpieces, as it is for a small party of 30-40 people. I has a question about caring for the flowers I choose when doing my centerpieces, and also should I prepare them the day before or the day of the event. Please let me know, any additional information would be appreciated."

Jessica,

It just so happens that about 10 months ago I clipped a tip from Real Simple all about longterm floral care…and now I can use it! According to the pros over at R.S., "Flowers need water [and] they can also use an energy boost. [Add] 1 teaspoon sugar (to feed the flowers), the juice of half a lemon (acid helps stems absorb nutrients), and a few drops of bleach (to kill bacteria) to 1 quart warm water." This chemical combination helps keep your buds open and living longer…great if your doing your own wedding arrangements.

I did some floral arrangements for my friend Helen's wedding this past July and learned (through trial and error) some more useful tips.

1) Try to purchase/arrange for the delivery of your flowers the day before or the morning of your wedding day. This works best since yur flowers will be super fresh and will save you a lot of the hassle of storing them.

2) Get a bunch of those big 5 gallon pails (like the kind that those warehouse clubs use to sell laundry detergent). Mix up big ass batches of the Real Simple recipe above and fill each bucket up halfway.

3) Take the flowers out of their wrappers/boxes and sort them in the buckets – fill about half the bucket with flowers so that they have room.

4) Store the flowers in a cool area, like a garage, until you are ready to use them.

Once you're ready to create your centerpieces (try to wait until the last possible moment so they are easier to store), here's a few more suggestions:

1) Mix up the same Real Simple recipe listed above but skip the bleach (the smell will conflict with the flowers) and use it to fill your vases/bowls about half full.

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2) If you are creating a complex or shaped arrangement (like the one above) then you'll also need some floral foam. Use a serrated knife and cut each piece of floral foam into the desired size. Make sure to gently soak the floral foam in a bowl of water until it is damp. Put each piece into it's container and then proceed inserting your flowers into the desired arrangement (Caution: Check your flower's stems! If they are wimpy then they will bend or snap instead of inserting themselves into the foam).

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3) For a more casual arrangement (as seen above), use the following method to achieve that "picked fresh from the garden this morning" look. Use masking tape to create a grid across the top of each vase. Insert flowers into one of the spots in the grid. This method helps the flowers stay in their general area – even when being moved around.

4) To trim flowers to their appropriate lengths, simply place each vase/container at the edge of a counter. Hold each flower up to the vase/container at the height that you want it to be. Trim the bottom of the stems using the counter as a sort of straight edge.

5) Some people suggest clipping the stems of your flowers under running warm water – they claim that this opens the stem and allows the flower to take in more "flower food". I don't know if this actually works but, eh, it does hurt to try!

6) Do a trial run months before the wedding! I cannot stress this enough – even the pros do trial samples of each arrangement for the couple to look at before the wedding. And so should you. Also, take notes. Write down what you did and when, measurements, flower types, mistakes, ideas, tools. Hell, take pictures to accompany your notes if need be! In those last hours before the wedding…you thank yourself for them.

Here are some great ideas for simple and inexpensive floral centerpieces that are pretty simple to whip up on the morning of your nups (all photos are courtesy of Real Simple):

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Good luck, Jessica and send pictures of your own arrangements after your big day!

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