• DO decide where you will place your flower arrangement before you make it so you can determine if the finished piece should be tall or wide or round and full.
• DON'T use tall arrangements for dinner table centerpieces—and expect your guests to be able to see each other across the table!
• DO select a container that is appropriate for the decor and/or theme of the arrangement. Consider the material the container is made of—brass, silver, glass, pottery, plastic; the shape—square, round, tall and slim, short and stout; and the style—sleek and modern, ornate and nostalgic, tailored and conservative, or free formed and artistic.
• DO choose a vase that is in proportion to the flowers. Often the vase should make up one-third to one half the size of the total arrangement (for example, three-foot tall gladiolus need a 12 - 18" vase).
• DO make sure the container has appropriate water-holding capacity in proportion to the quantity and size of the flowers (sunflowers don't fit in a bud vase, for example).
• DO use tall, cylindrical vases for arrangements that incorporate line flowers, such as gladiolus, Liatris (gayfeather), Delphinium, snapdragons, and bells of Ireland.
• DO use vases with a belly (such as urns or ginger jars) for mass and filler flowers. Mass flowers include roses, carnations, sunflowers, lilies, tulips, daffodils, and chrysanthemums. Filler flowers include statice, baby's breath, waxflower, Queen Anne's lace, and Saponaria.
• DON'T combine flowers which do not naturally blend well. Consider the morphology, texture, as well as the color. For example, bold, angular, shiny tropical flowers such as bird of paradise do not blend well with softer, delicate, ruffled flowers such as sweet peas.
• DO condition the flowers by cutting the stems diagonally under water. This prevents air bubbles from forming that can block water from being drawn up into the flowers. The diagonal cut allows a wider surface from which flowers can drink. Remove the foliage from stems which will be under water. This discourages life-shortening bacteria from forming due to decaying foliage in the vase water. Add the right amount of floral preservative to the vase water (see instructions on preservative package).
• DO recut the flower stems every two to three days and change the vase water.
• DON'T set flowers in a drafty or warm place, such as in an open, sunny window or on top of the TV. The drafts and heat will cause the water to rapidly evaporate out of the flowers—and the vase—and leave you with a wilted bouquet.
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