You want to make a bouquet for someone. Something different and eye-catching that won’t empty your wallet or help melt the ice caps.
Top-rated florist Elena Seegers of Le Fleuriste in New York knows how you feel. Born in London and trained as an architect, Elena first fell in love with flowers (and the stories behind them) while working on a project documenting a different Parisian florist each week for a year.
Elena showed us how to make a just-right bouquet on a budget using ethically-sourced flowers. Read on for her step-by-step bouquet-making guide, plant food recipe and tips for getting the best local flowers.
Select Your Flowers
For this bouquet I chose a mix of flowers and herbs. I like to source locally and support the slow flower movement: using local, seasonal flowers grown with fair labor practices, instead of importing cut flowers that contribute to our carbon footprint. Your local farmer’s market is the perfect place to start. Find a few blooms you love, then add in fresh herbs. Focusing on a few herbs and flowers saves money and looks wonderful.
Here we have:
- Orange ranunculus
- Narcissus (these smell delicious and grow all over)
- Purple bearded iris
I like to use a lot of white with very saturated colors for contrast (like the orange and purple here). But choose what you love—as long as you have beautiful blooms the colors are secondary.
Arrange the Flowers
Start with the biggest bloom. In this case it would be our peony or an open iris.
- Keep the biggest bloom front and center, and arrange the other flowers above and behind it.
- Allow for a bit of stem above the center bloom and stagger the flowers so that each bloom has room to shine.
- Add the greenery (herbs) in the back to give structure to the bouquet. Herbs tend to have relatively strong stem).
- To avoid looking messy or overdone, add small touches around the front and back edges of the bouquet.
Cut the Stems
When you prep flowers for gift wrapping you should trim the stems straight across using clippers, sharp scissors, or a sharp knife on a cutting board. Just make sure not to cut on an angle—save that for when flowers go into a vase.
Keep It Fresh
For this you’ll need two elastic bands.
- First, bind all the cut stems together with an elastic band.
- Wrap the stems in a wet napkin.
- Place a plastic bag over the wet napkin and make sure it reaches a bit further up on the stems.
- Secure the napkin with a second elastic band. The band should be higher than the top of the wet napkin; otherwise, you’ll have a leak.
Wrap It Up
A sheet of tissue or silk paper works well for the inner paper, and you’ll also need some kraft paper for the outside layer.
- Lay down the paper—you’ll want to use way more than you actually need.
- Cut the paper so that when it’s folded, your bouquet is only just bigger than the diagonal. This keeps things from wrinkling.
- Fold the paper in half.
- Fold the paper up on the bottom corner to cover the base of the stems.
- Put a second piece of kraft paper around the bouquet (pretty wrapping paper also works).
- Wrap it in a nice, quality ribbon. I prefer a knot, not a bow—it’s less fussy and you waste less ribbon.
Try saving ribbons from gifts and tissue paper from shopping so when you make bouquets at home you have lovely things on hand to upcycle.
Now you can gift the bouquet!
Pro Tip: From Bouquet to Vase
To transfer a bouquet safely from the packaging to a vase:
- Unwrap the bouquet, then recut all the stems on a diagonal 1 inch above the original cut line.
- Fill a vase with cold water, adding 1 tsp bleach and 1 tsp agave syrup. The bleach keeps bacteria out of water and the agave provides nourishment to the stems.
- Place the bouquet into the water.
- Don’t forget to top up the water each day! This is the biggest killer, especially when the flowers are still opening they drink a lot of water. So top it up each day.
For more floral inspiration, see our pro tips on spring bouquets and tablescapes.