How to Buy the Right Cut Flowers for Your Bouquet

Flowers never go out of style and are never unappreciated by anyone.  I don't know where the myth came about that cut flowers are a waste because they will only wilt in a few days.  They'll wilt whether they're cut or still in the ground.  They are beautiful in bloom and are meant to be enjoyed.  If; however, you want your gift to last more than a couple days you may always choose to give a flowering plant that will bloom again and again.

Red roses and baby's breath are the most common and classic bouquet of flowers.  They are also a little old fashioned and overdone.  If you choose to give this bouquet it will not be unappreciated - especially if the roses are fragrant - but if you really want to make a memorable statement by giving flowers here are a few suggestions for you.

Before choosing your bouquet consider the context:

  • Who are they for?  How well do you know the person?
  • What is the occasion?  Flowers can be given for birthdays, anniversaries, memorial services, any special occasion or simply to say "I'm thinking of you."
  • What is your budget?  Buying flowers shouldn't and doesn't have to cost you and arm and a leg.

Flowers can be given as a romantic gesture, to a family member, from one friend to another, or as a friendly expression to someone you are meeting for the first time.  Consider what you know about this person.  Do you happen to know their favorite flower or their favorite color?  Are they spunky and energetic or calm and shy?  Are they bold or more reserved?  Romantic?  Modern?  Classical?  A person's character traits can help tell you a lot about what kind of flowers they'll most enjoy.

If you're buying flowers for someone who is bright, bold and energetic then the flowers you select should reflect that.  Look for bright and bold colors and large expressive shapes.   If your bouquet is for someone more quiet and reserved, consider more subdued colors and smaller flowers.  If you know little to nothing about the person and are giving flowers to someone you have never before met aim somewhere in between - combine one or two larger, bolder flowers (such as Sunflowers) with small more subdued flowers; or combine a classic rose with a mix of other flowers.

Flowers are not just for women and they do not need to be reserved for anniversaries or romantic occasions.  I love to give my girlfriends flowers on their birthdays because i know they love them and usually don't expect them, especially from a friend.  Surprise a friend, co-worker, boyfriend etc. with flowers.  It will be a pleasant surprise for sure!

If you are mindful of your budget don't feel as though you have to break the bank to give a beautiful bouquet.  Check out the floral section of your local grocery store and look for deals on pre-arranged bouquets in water.  You can pick up an arrangement or pair up two different bouquets in a vase and create a beautiful display for under $15.  Be creative using your own vase and creating your own arrangement.

When purchasing flowers consider the following attributes:

  • Color - think about color tone as well as hues - are the colors bright or pale, variegated or solid?
  • Shape - are the flowers round, cylindrical, star shaped or bell shaped?  Also consider foliage - do they have broad leaves or are they small and delicate?
  • Size - Are the blooms large, medium or small?  This may determine whether you use them as the focus of the bouquet or a graceful filler.   Also select flowers of varying height or cut the stems on some of the flowers so some are shorter - this works especially well on smaller "filler" flowers and greenery.  This will create a fuller more attractive bouquet.
  • Quantity - Do you want a large, elaborate bouquet or something simple and elegant?
  • Fragrance – don’t forget flowers can be appreciated not only for their looks but also for their intoxicating perfume

When considering color think again of the recipient.  Bright colors suit bold personalities where pastels might be more suitable for someone who is shy.  From simple to elaborate - you can create a bouquet with a single color, pair up bold and contrasting colors such as orange & blue, yellow & purple, or combine a variety of colors.  Mix and match - get creative with colors!  Your bouquet should be expressive and beautiful and reflect what ever message you want to send.

You can choose to vary the shapes and sizes of flowers in your bouquet.  Select one flower (or one type of flower) as the emphasis for the bouquet.  Place a Bird of Paradise or other large, unique flower as the center of focus in your bouquet surrounded by smaller flowers or greenery.  Combine shapes.  Mix and match round Roses with star shaped Lilies or large circular Sunflowers with small bell-shaped Bluebells.

You can even select one flower to comprise the entire bouquet:  Calla Lilies; Daffodils, Tulips, Gerberas, Lilies, Orchids, Sunflowers, iris - all of these are unique and elegant enough they can stand alone in a bouquet without being paired up with other flowers or greenery.

Have fun creating your bouquet and you won't go wrong.  The sentiment is what counts most so if you create an arrangement you feel proud of then you'll pass your joy on to the recipient along with the bouquet!

Tips on how to increase the life of your bouquet:

  • Trim the bottom inch of stems to ensure they don’t dry out.  A fresh cut will allow them to absorb water more easily.
  • Most bouquets these days come with packet of preservatives that you can add to the water to prolong the life of the blooms.  I prefer only adding half the packet and saving the other half so I can change out the water after a couple days.
  • Remove any leaves that will remain below water level as these will only decay and pollute the vase water.
  • Add a small amount of bleach (1 teaspoon to a large vase) to prevents the growth of bacteria in the water.
  • Remove wilted flowers and petals as time passes to refresh the appearance of the bouquet.  You may also downsize to a smaller vase as you remove wilted flowers.

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Jennifer Thompson
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Posted on Dec 9, 2008