Who doesn’t love a vase of fresh-cut flowers? It’s like bringing the garden into your home, filling it with beautiful color and fragrance.

If taken care of properly, the bouquet can last for days.

You can create a gorgeous arrangement for your home or someone special with just a few items. Start by choosing the design style for the piece. Whether you are creating a delicate arrangement of pinks, purples, whites and baby blues or something tropical with exotic plant material, the choices are endless.

Your design can be small and compact design or loose and wild. Make an impact by using a single flower type, such as all tulips, hydrangeas or roses. Or make it a monochromatic selection and use all white or all purple flowers. Go formal and romantic with red roses, or make it a more rustic or tropical arrangement.

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Flowers are readily available at grocery and wholesale stores. There you'll find everything from calla lilies and carnations to daisies and dahlias, gerbera daisies, orchids, roses and sunflowers. You can also purchase filler greenery such as baby’s breath, bells of Ireland, dusty miller, eucalyptus, fern, Italian ruscus and ivy to add texture to the arrangement and fill in.

The size of your arrangement depends on the size of the vase. Put water into the vase. If your flowers came with a preservative solution, add it now. If you don’t have any, you can use a few drops of bleach to kill any bacteria and keep the flowers fresh.

A good rule of thumb is to make your bouquet about one and a half times taller than the container or vase that it will be placed in. For a neat look, balance the width and the height. However, don't be bound by rules. Make the greenery higher on one side while letting it spill over on the other to give your arrangement some asymmetry and interest.

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To arrange the flowers, start by adding the largest flowers first and then work in a circle, turning the vase and adding flowers as you go. Cut the stems at an angle about an inch from the bottom with garden shears to allow stems to take up more water. Studies have shown that cutting the stems under running water helps them take up water right away. Remove any foliage below the waterline.

Layer in the next variety of flower and repeat until all flowers have been added, and finish the arrangement by adding greenery, baby’s breath or berries.

Of course, it’s wonderful to cut flowers from your own landscape for arrangements. Some flowers that will grow well in Louisiana and make great cut flowers for arranging include sunflowers, ageratum, roses, dusty miller, allium, zinnias, gerbera daisies, asters, lilies, Queen Anne’s lace, sweet William, yarrow, bachelor buttons, celosia, cosmos, marigold, gomphrena, hydrangeas, salvias and echinacea.

When creating these arrangements, cut flowers early in the morning so they last longer. Be sure to cut and place them directly in water to assure they take up water right away. When arranging, cut the stems at an angle under running warm water at about an inch from the bottom of the stem.

To help your arrangements last as long as possible, you need to prevent microbial growth. A few drops of bleach will help, but no more than a few drops, or it will damage the plants. You can change the water daily and skip the bleach all together. Warm water is best. Remove dead flowers and cut ¼- to ½-inch of stem off every time you change the water to encourage water uptake.


Email questions to gardennews@agcenter.lsu.edu.