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Arranging Flowers

Martha Stewart Living, June 1995

Flower arranging is an art, but the art is easy to master when you follow the simple techniques shown throughout this feature. We'll teach you how to create a variety of elegant arrangements, how to select vases, and how to treat stems for the longest-lasting bouquets.

Our favorite arrangements are based on these six basic styles:

DOMED
We gathered an armful of garden roses in a tight range of soft colors to form this arching dome, set in a nineteenth-century blown-glass compote. The stems were inserted one by one, steadied by a floral frog at the vase's base.

SPIKY
The stems of these cool-blue delphiniums were cut at various lengths to complement the container's curvy shape; the shortest stalks, inserted last, extend only a few inches into the water.

SINGLE
For this elegant centerpiece, we snipped a single dahlia bloom and set it in a pressed-glass sugar bowl. When setting a flower upon the rim of a cup or small bowl, be sure to leave an inch or so of stem attached, so the bloom can continue to drink.

FLOATING
This unusual arrangement features five open peonies floating in a transferware punch bowl. When floating flowers in water, first cut the stems to less than an inch; if a flower has trouble floating, use a flower float -- or cut a circle of Bubble Wrap, and thread the stem through the center bubble.

FREE-FORM
A vintage tole basket makes a charming container for these pink peonies framed by broad hosta leaves. Because the metal basket isn't watertight, we hid water-filled jars inside it to hold the flowers. Although built one stem at a time, this is a quick and casual arrangement: Start with the largest blooms, and tuck in the hosta leaves last.

GROUPED
This luminous centerpiece is composed of three silver julep cups filled with paper-whites, roses, and star-of-Bethlehem and set atop a cake stand. After the centerpiece has served its purpose, the three elements can be separated and distributed throughout the house: Try placing them on nightstands and bathroom shelves.