Holiday Floral Tips From the Pros
Our favorite green-thumb Instagrammers weigh in with their advice, complete with floral eye candy that we can’t wait to imitate.
Work With Greenery
“Be it for yourself or a lovely, simple hostess gift, consider putting together a sustainable, winter-inspired centerpiece of just interesting greenery instead of flowers. Foliage typically lasts much longer in the vase than flowers and the neutral shades of green and gray fit in with any holiday decor. Favorites around my flower farm include dusty miller, eucalyptus, juniper, nandina, artichoke leaves, and hardy herbs such as lavender. Look around your own yard for inspiration!” —Jennie Love from Love ’n Fresh Flowers
“Consider using burgundy and blush instead of the classic red and white for a romantic holiday look. Skip the ‘filler flowers’ this season and pair lush, over the top blooms such as amaryllis, garden roses, and peonies (yes, peonies are available in December!), with evergreen foliage and textural bits you find in your yard or neighborhood park. This creates a look that is inherently seasonal and connects the decor in your home with the outside world, the perfect pairing of grit and grace.” —Mary Ellen LaFreniere from Steel Cut Flower Co.
Freshen Water Daily
“In the winter months when the heat is on, it's particularly important to give your arrangements fresh water daily. Although always good practice to stretch the life of your flowers, bacteria growth is going to be what brings them down the fastest. If possible, tipping the vase to flush out the old water while adding the fresh will help keep them clean. And, speaking of heat, keep your arrangements, wreaths, garlands, etc. as far away from heat sources as possible, since it dries them out, encourages browning, and causes that yucky bacterial growth. Lastly, by nature some flowers fade more quickly than others, so a great way to keep your arrangements looking happy and to give them a longer vase life is to pull the faded blooms out and replace them with a bit of something foraged. Holly, cedar, juniper, camilla, and hellebore are all great winter foraging options.” —Megan Dunlap from Victory Blooms
Forage, Forage, Forage
“Don't be afraid to put on your snow boots and look no further than your backyard! Take trimmings from your evergreen shrubs and trees (pine, spruce, arborvitae, firs, juniper, and cedar). Use these trimmings to accent your holiday packages, or to place in bud vases throughout your home. It's an easy and economical way to spruce up your holiday season!” —Jackie Reisenauer from Munster Rose
Keep Herbs Handy
“We love creating nontraditional wreaths around the holidays. Grapevine is a very versatile base that is easy to bend and you can make all kinds of shapes with it. Triangular wreaths and swags are fun because they’re unexpected. Adding in fresh herbs is also a very fun way to add a little fragrance to the wreath and as they dry, they can easily be snipped and added to winter dishes.” —Kelly Thompson from Fleur Inc.
Play With Texture
“In many ways, flowers are the ultimate gift during the holidays—perfect for the party host or the person who has everything. Stems can brighten up interiors and provide seasonal scents. Blooming plants are a personal favorite for gifting, from poinsettias and cyclamen, to forced paperwhite bulbs and colorful Christmas cacti—I try to find less traditional varieties in unusual colors or interesting vessels. Alternatively, try a bouquet of mixed seasonal foliage like evergreens and eucalyptus mixed with some dried textural blooms or berry stems for a fragrant and long-lasting bunch. Failing that, find a florist with great packaging and blooms to make a beautiful bunch of fresh flowers (consider a crisp color palette or whites and greens, or mix in some less common stems to keep things unique). If you're on a budget, grab some pretty tissue paper to wrap and enhance your bodega flowers.” —Mairead Travins from Flowerkraut
Opt For Tropical
“Our best tip for the holidays? Don't be afraid to pull from different sources for your holiday arrangements! Keep things festive in a rich red and oxblood palette, but surprise your guests with tropical and dried textures—don’t worry, mixing them with fresh blooms will keep the overall look from going south! A few clippings from a tropical house plant can be the perfect foliage to make the flowers sing. Similarly, keep an eye out on a morning walk for anything dried and poking up from the sidewalk. You never know what you might find! Bonus: tropical and dried elements have incredibly long shelf lives, endearing themselves to the busy holiday host nicely.” —Amanda Luu and Ivanka Matsuba from Studio Mondine
Add Unexpected Elements
“When I’m designing a floral centerpiece for the holidays I always like to add in unexpected elements. I think about a color palette first and go from there. Let’s say I’m going to make an arrangement with reds and warm colors using flowers such as peonies, roses and lisianthus—instead of using pine greens for the “greenery or filler” I will clip off and use the colored part of a poinsettia plant that I bought from a garden greenhouse. Using the colorful poinsettia leaves makes the arrangement more striking with bold color while still keeping with the holiday spirit.” —Alicia Rico & Adam Rico from Bows & Arrows Flowers
Watch Your Ratio
“I am not a ‘traditional’ florist, and no two arrangements are ever alike. But I have come up with a few rules that I follow. More flowers than vase. Go for a ratio of two-thirds flowers to one-third vase for a lush, sumptuous style. Consider one especially interesting or beautiful flower or piece of foliage to be your focal point. We call this a gestural flower. Our focal point is usually off-center. Try not to build pyramid- or ball-shaped arrangements; an asymmetrical arrangement is a lot more interesting to look at. Always prime the vase with foliage. Build a base and cover the edges of your vase with greenery. Fill all openings. When you think you are done, step back and check for empty spots.” —Ingrid Carozzi from Tin Can Studios