Photos by Kait Ecker
With flowers bursting out of farmers market stalls, it’s hard to not go home with a bunch of blooms. Tiffany Hammond, a certified floral designer, accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers and instructor at the Koehler & Dramm Institute of Floristry, can help you make your farmer’s market finds last as long as possible. Michael Gaffney, founder and owner of the American School of Flower Design, also gives his expert advice for all of us amateurs trying our own hand at arranging flowers.
1. Buy Your Blooms Last
As hard as it is to resist getting your flowers as soon as you get to the farmers market, it’s really for the best if you wait.
“You don’t want to pick them out when it’s all warm and hot, and then have them be out of water for that extended amount of time,” Hammond says. If you buy them too early, your flowers will start drying out before you make it home.
2. Be Careful Going Home
“Try to keep them upright just so that they don’t get crushed. Some things are less delicate than you think, and some things are more delicate than you think,” Hammond says.
This may require an extra set of hands, so it’s a good thing going to the market is more fun with your significant other or kiddos. If your would-be flower handlers are occupied, Hammond also says keeping a box in your trunk or backseat can also work.
3. Use a Sharp, Clean Blade
When you and your flowers get home, the first thing you should do is cut the stems at an angle with a sharp knife or scissors, Hammond says.
“Using that sharp knife or sharp blade helps prevent the stem from getting crushed,” she says. This makes it easier for the flowers to drink up water.
4. Trim Excess Greenery
“Make sure you remove all greenery that’s going to be below the water line, because that starts to deteriorate faster,” Hammond says. “It releases germs and bacteria, and stuff into the water, which then goes up the stem when it’s drinking water.”
This will not only keep your flowers healthier and happier, but it will also make cleaning out the vase less icky later.
5. Display in a Cool Location
Crank the AC and close the curtains to keep you blooms thriving. Putting them in direct sunlight or keeping them outside will cause them start wilting faster, Hammond says. Really, it seems like a good excuse to treat yourself to a bit of cold air and feel more refreshed.
6. Freshen the Water
Hammond suggests changing the water and re-cutting the stems every couple of days to make sure the flowers are easily drinking clean water. If nothing else, she says you should keep an eye on the water levels as the flowers sit out, just to make sure the vase is always full of that good ol’ H2O.
7. “Copy Pictures From Magazines”
For beginners to floral arranging, designer Gaffney suggests simply copying designs from photographs in magazines. Or, if you’d like to put your creative stamp on your arrangement, you could simply use the picture for guidance.
8. Use an Urn
“When it narrows at the neck of the vase, it’s like holding your flowers in your hand,” Gaffney says.
Working with an urn-shaped vase while arranging your market blooms will feel more natural than a vase with straighter lines.
9. Choose A Focal Point
“Start with the prettiest flower and the most important flower in the middle,” Gaffney says. “It’s up to you; you’re the designer. Whatever you think is most important visually.”
Once you choose a focal point, he says you should work outwards. If you’re at a loss as to what to choose—because really all the flowers are so beautiful—Gaffney says something like a rose or peony typically works well.
10. Mix it Up
“The worst thing you can do is combine all the same sized flowers in a bouquet,” Gaffney says.
When you’re at the market, try and pick out things with different textures, shapes, and sizes. This will make your bouquet look interesting and unique. But most of all, have fun because flowers are supposed to make you smile.