10 Surprising Ways to Display Your Flowers Without a Vase

flower bud vases
Photo: Ryan Liebe

One of our best-kept secrets to stunning flower arrangements? Putting florals in containers other than vases. Picking the vase alternative is half the fun: water pitchers, Champagne glasses, teacups, and umbrella stands are all fair game. And with a little help from floral foam, you can use unconventional vessels, like an oversize white bowl.

Over the years, our editors have found inspiration in using giant conch shells from the seashore in summertime, pumpkins and gourds in the fall, and even birch wood stumps in the stillness of winter. And that's nothing to be said of what can be found in the spring when everything is in bloom—Easter eggs, for one.

Once found, consider how the container will shape and anchor the arrangement. Oftentimes, the trick is to put only a single variety or color of flower in a container. There's no need to pilfer your flowerbeds for an elegant deconstructed arrangement—grouped bud vases hold only a couple of blossoms. Select varieties of differing heights that sport intricate details, such as skip laurel, 'Gavota' tulip, and Balkan fritillary. Add a sense of drama by pairing very different sizes of blooms in more ordinary containers, or a single, sculptural stem in an unexpected vase. Or find stems with pristine leaves—this is all about appreciating the beauty of these flowers up close. Wield the floral clippers, frogs, and other flower-arranging tools at your disposal to wisely to trim down leaves, branches, and excess greenery to fit your upcycled vase of choice.

With this simple strategy and our easy arranging tips, anyone can create a beautiful arrangement—no vase necessary.

01 of 10

Glass Jars


We start with this simple, sunny arrangement. Unused jam jars and glass containers in your kitchen work well as vases. Not to mention, glass jars won't damage fabric or wooden surfaces the way terracotta pots can. Place cut blooms in water or transfer miniature potted plants, such as orchids or hellebores. Water the plants sparingly, and pour out any excess so they don't rot.

02 of 10


Kana Okada

Size doesn't matter. Try snipping off only a few short-stemmed flowers. In this arrangement, the full petals of this 'Kwanzan' cherry are well matched with a hot-pink teacup. Almost any blooming tree or shrub—apple, magnolia, mock orange, deutzia—will work. To prevent the taller pieces from flopping over the rim, try tying the stems together underneath the blooms.

03 of 10

Tea Tins


These vintage containers can take on a modern look when used in floral design. Here, we filled one with roses, gomphrenas, and sweet peas. The tins are both watertight and shatterproof, so you don't have to worry about leaks or breakage.

04 of 10


Easter egg vases
Chelsea McNamara

An egg of any size will do: In oversized goose and duck eggs, these make a lovely springtime centerpiece. And individually in smaller chicken eggs, they make a pretty marker for place settings. Break an egg at the top of its shell, drain the contents, and carefully rinse out the inside. Next, fill the empty shell with room-temperature water and place it in an eggcup for stability. Here, a trio of eggs are bursting from the crack with daffodils, lily of the valley, and violas.

05 of 10


shell vase
Laurie Frankel

In the summer, a trip to the beach is definitely in store. After scouting for shells that have washed up on the shore, put those treasures to good use. Here, a wide-mouthed, spiral nautilus shell can double as a pearlescent vase for bedroom bouquets. To create your own, place a piece of floral adhesive on a plate (use just enough to hold the shell upright). Stick the shell to the adhesive, and then place a weight—a fishing sinker, for example—inside to help hold it in place. Fill the shell halfway with water, and add flowers, such as purple scabiosa and white phlox. Lastly, arrange pebbles around the shell; they'll add a finishing touch and further stabilize the display.

06 of 10



Roses look gorgeous when you snip off the stems and float them in glass votive candleholders, the perfect vessels for solitary blossoms. Pictured here: these line a bathroom sink, so you get to enjoy them first thing in the morning and then again right before you go to bed.

07 of 10

Pumpkins and Gourds

pumpkin vases
Bryan Gardner

You can make autumnal flower vases from any small gourd or pumpkin. We used dark-green kabocha squashes and orange ambercup squashes to hold bright orange and red dahlias. Other supplies you'll need: an empty jar or a widemouthed glass (about the same height as the squash), a thick pen or a marker, a small serrated knife, and a metal spoon or an ice cream scoop. Try grouping your handmade vases together as a seasonal centerpiece for your fall table. The vessels should last two to three days, depending on the room's temperature and humidity level.

08 of 10

Champagne Flutes


It's a clever way to make use of your glassware that otherwise only appears on New Year's Eve: these tulips, lisianthus, waxflowers, and ranunculus, pictured here, at the corner store. Grasp the stems as if making a nosegay and then cut them to the same length, adding and subtracting blooms until you get each bouquet right. Then, tuck them into Champagne flutes.

09 of 10

Carafes and Glassware

vase within vase arrangements
Aaron Dyer

Enhance a floral still life by nesting small glasses inside larger ones. You'll double the impact—especially when they're placed on a windowsill to let the light shine through. Start by filling a narrow glass with water, then set it in the center of a wider, taller container. Layer tinted-glass vessels in varying hues, so the inner silhouettes stand out clearly. For extra stability, attach a piece of holding wax to the bottom of the smaller vessel to keep it from slipping. Add flowers or stemmed leaves as desired, and group the nested vases together with a few stand-alone ones. Use just a few leaves or small blossoms to keep the spotlight on the vases.

10 of 10


fruit and flowers bowl
Ngoc Minh Ngo

Soup bowls, tureens, and platters—they all serve more than just a good meal. Pictured here: This bowl of citrus brings a bright pop of color to the kitchen counter. Add in flowers, a cheery nod to fast-approaching spring, and you've got an instant centerpiece. Here, we put fresh-cut daffodils into floral tubes filled with water and nestled them into a platter of tangerines and oranges. (We made sure a few of the fruits still had leaves on them.) Smaller dishes of kumquats and tangelos complement the display.

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