Flower Therapy: Arranging Tips, Tricks, and Medicine for the Soul

Happy August! I gathered some flowers and floral arranging tips from the archives for a little flower therapy!  I like to pick up flowers at the Farmers Market in the summer for a flower fix. . .a cheery bouquet is a guaranteed spirit lifter for the summer heat and humidity and the August blues.

You can combine flowers from the garden and grocery store to create your arrangement. Trader Joe’s has a great selection of affordable fresh flowers if you’re lucky enough to have one near you. If you don’t have flowers blooming in your garden, don’t overlook the foliage or berries from shrubs, or branches you may have in your yard or that can be collected from a vacant wooded lot or greenway in your neighborhood.

Sometimes I start with foliage as the framework before adding the flowers, especially if they’re the same variety or size, like with this Chick-fil-A Bouquet for Mother’s Day.

Other times I start with the flowers first and arrange as I go.

I like to add fruit and/or vegetables to mix with the flowers in an arrangement. They add texture and interest to your arrangement and you need fewer flowers.

Grape Expectations Harvest Table

When it comes to arranging flowers, think outside the vase.  A vintage tea kettle can make a charming container to fill with garden flowers.

Or an enamel bucket can lend a cottage or farmhouse touch to the porch with an easy method for arranging flowers and greenery from the garden, using a wide mouth vase or smaller bucket nested inside a larger one.

To keep cut hydrangeas from wilting, use the ‘alum-dipping method’, dipping 1/2 inch of each stem in alum powder, found on the spice aisle at the grocery store.

Experiment and combine materials that might seem like an unlikely pairing, like blue hydrangeas and ‘Jack Be Little’ pumpkins, in this Just Because arrangement.

Flowers are naturally beautiful, so let your materials be your guide and do what’s pleasing to your eye, rather than following ‘rules’ when it comes to arranging.

Use a piece of chicken wire to provide support for flower stems in your arrangement. Hosta leaves between the walls of the glass vases hide the mechanics of the chicken wire and the flower stems for this alfresco garden table.

Or put those plastic netting bags to work that produce comes in, usually citrus and avocados, to make flower arranging easy with a Garden Bouquet DIY and Recycling Flower Arranging Hack.

The plastic netting bag is strong and flexible, making it a perfect material to support your flower stems, and to upcycle and reuse, instead of throwing it away.

Here are a few guidelines to help extend the life of your flowers in your arrangement:

Cut your flowers and greenery in the morning when the stems are fully hydrated and not water-stressed from the heat.

Strip the leaves that would be below the waterline, removing the excess foliage, and damaged petals and recut the stems at a 45 degree angle for maximum water uptake.  Place them in a clean bucket with room temperature water and some floral preservative to condition them and let them sit several hours or ideally, overnight.


If you’re using wet floral foam, use the “float soak” method and place the floral foam bricks on the top of a solution of fresh water and/or floral preservative. Let the floral foam gradually absorb the water until it’s fully saturated. Plunging the floral foam in the water traps air bubbles and will prohibit the transfer of water from the foam to the flower stems.


If you don’t have any commercial floral preservative to add to your water, you can make your own to help your cut flowers last longer. There are a lot of homemade solutions and theories about adding aspirin, vinegar, vodka, bleach, sugar, and pennies to your vase water to prolong the life of your flowers.

Here’s an easy formula I use to help prolong the life of cut flowers:

Mix one part lemon-lime soda (regular, not diet) to three parts water, along with 1/2 teaspoon of bleach. The citric acid in the soda helps the water travel up the stems to the flowers more rapidly, while providing food in the form of sugar. The bleach helps fight the growth of bacteria, allowing the flowers to stay hydrated and fresh.


Change your vase water every two days, recutting your stems when you change your water.


Playing with flowers brings enjoyment to yourself and to others. . .


I thrilled to have a surprise visitor drop by while I was taking photos of my flowers . . .


A monarch butterfly stopped by for a little nectar sipping from the magenta celosia.


I was all aflutter over a second monarch butterfly sighting in a week!

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.

~Luther Burbank


Enjoy the bloom!

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Flower Arranging Techniques, Tips and Tricks using flowers from the garden or grocery store! | ©homeiswheretheboatis.net

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  113 comments for “Flower Therapy: Arranging Tips, Tricks, and Medicine for the Soul

  1. August 2, 2017 at 7:34 am

    You are so very talented! These are all so full and beautiful (and so are the backtracked posts!), each one with a unique look. I love that Chick-fil-A bouquet dialog, lol. I had a monarch visit my garden yesterday evening too – excited to have captured it with a few photos. I may have already pinned one of these individual tip posts, but this one deserves another – great assemblage of tips. Thank you!

    • Terry Lloyd
      July 20, 2019 at 2:20 pm

      I love your website! Your ideas and talent is greatly appreciated!

  2. Linda L
    August 2, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Wow, fabulous post! Your flower arrangements are just the best. I’m always so impressed with all of them. Your color choices and sense of balance are spot on. Thanks for all the great tips in this post. I study ikebana and next time I use hydrangeas I’m using the alum. I did an arrangement with hydrangea for an exhibit and they wilted! Luckily I had back ups.

  3. August 2, 2017 at 7:46 am

    I’m so glad you wrote about floral arranging again..I wanted that recipe for floral preservative and this time, I’m writing it on my computer..also, I see a very PINK flower in one of your arrangements..not sure what it is but it looks like a Zinnia or maybe it’s an Aster..would love to know..Zinnias are my favorite..I tried the ALUM dipping on my Hydrangeas and it works..they lasted a very long time…I also got some new/better ideas for arranging..yours are gorgeous!! Thank you so much always look forward to you site. ❤️🌻💐🌹🌷🌺🌼🌸

    • August 2, 2017 at 7:52 am

      Thanks Ellen! There were pink zinnias and dahlias in my farmers market bunch of flowers.🌺🌸💐🐝

  4. Alice
    August 2, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Love, love love your pictures and tutorial my favorites being the tea kettle with the Queen Anne lace and the butterfly visit. Keep up the flower arranging as I need much help.

  5. Carol Burger
    August 2, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Wow…loved this posting. Very creative and informative! Thanks!

  6. August 2, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Your flower arrangements are fabulous! Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos, so creative!

  7. Brenda S
    August 2, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Love the arrangements and am so grateful for your blog and sharing of ideas, how to’s, recipes, photos,
    everything! I did not know about letting the foam gradually absorb the water – I always did the plunge method!!

  8. August 2, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Flowering arranging/being a florist is another skill you certainly hold. Each and everyone one of the arrangements are absolutely stunning! As a matter of fact, they put the real work of a florist to shame! I cannot begin to imagine how much you could charge for a single creation…which are really works of art! Once again, your post is wonderful and very educational. I like flowers, but I’ve never wanted my husband to buy me flowers because they wilt and die. For me, I don’t have access to flowers for cutting or extra money to purchase them. In reality, even if I could afford to it…it would more work than I was willing to do. I believe I’ll take Joanna Gaine’s philosophy and invest in quality silks! I must admit, I’m a little envious that you and others get so much pleasure from gardening, but then again, I’ve never had a green thumb! Beautiful and continue to enjoy! 😊

  9. Susie
    August 2, 2017 at 8:19 am

    What a great post! I learned the alum trick from you and it’s made me use hydrangeas in arrangements again :)
    Love the creative use of urns and containers–THANK YOU!

  10. August 2, 2017 at 8:31 am

    This is a feast for the eyes. Glad to know about the alum for hydrangeas. Lots of great tips and these arrangements sure made me feel happier. Dianne

  11. Porti
    August 2, 2017 at 8:33 am

    How lovely! Thank you for the great inspiration and the how-to-go-about-it! I’m a new fan!

    • susanmercurio
      February 27, 2021 at 6:48 pm

      My personal quote for loving flowers is “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word out of the mouth of god.” And flowers are the words of god.

  12. vonbergen1
    August 2, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Wow, this has to be one of my favorite all time posts. Awesome information and your arrangements are stunning.

  13. Karenann
    August 2, 2017 at 8:55 am

    How beautiful all your arrangements are! And thank you for the tip using Alum for hydrangeas. I never knew to do that!

  14. mary
    August 2, 2017 at 9:03 am


  15. August 2, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I always admire your artful floral arrangements Mary, real masterpieces they are, and I appreciate the reminders of all the clever tips and tricks you’ve shared, thank you! I have some of those jar grids, totally forgot about them! Also love the hosta leaves submerged and the vessel within vessel method.

  16. August 2, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Thanks for the really great floral arranging ideas ~

  17. August 2, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Wonderful arrangement ideas! Thanks so much for always making this blog visit a special one!

  18. Ellen
    August 2, 2017 at 10:15 am

    You possess an encyclopedic mind and vast talent for the fine art of floral arrangements! Your arrangements never cease to take my breath away, each and ever time that I see them. My Gram used to say that “flowers were God’s love made visible.” I have to agree. I heard the story of Queen Anne’s Lace from her. It grew wild all over her fields and often appeared in her arrangements. Thank-you for gathering all of your tips together in this beautiful post.

  19. Linda
    August 2, 2017 at 10:18 am

    SUPER! What a wonderful, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your floral tips.

  20. Linda
    August 2, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I love everything about your post today. Thank you for the many tips. Your photos make me smile from the insude out 😊

    • Linda
      August 2, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Oops! Inside 😂

  21. August 2, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Mary, this is so beautiful and helpful. I always throw away the green netting bags that hold produce, and I’m putting alum on my list. Arranging flowers is so soothing and replenishes the soul– you are right. It is flower therapy! 🌺🌸🍃💐🌻🥀🌱🌿🌷

  22. Jean Anderson
    August 2, 2017 at 10:48 am

    That was a wonderful post, so much great information

  23. franki
    August 2, 2017 at 11:59 am

    FLOWER POWER!!! (and sometimes parsley…) franki

  24. Carol
    August 2, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Mary, you truly have the “magic touch” with flowers. Beautiful!

  25. Patti
    August 2, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! A nice break from my day….

  26. Linda
    August 2, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Does the alum method good for all flowers?

    • August 2, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      I’ve only tried it with hydrangeas that are notorious for wilting after cutting. You can certainly try it with other varieties.

  27. Linda
    August 2, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    whoops… work well for all flowers

  28. August 2, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Love this post! Never knew the bleach trick – I would have been afraid to try that. My sunflowers are already wilting – So I will have to try one of your tricks on them and see if they will last a little longer. Thanks much!!

  29. August 2, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I SO Love to see a post from you….makes me happy! You are so talented in every thing. I love flowers and seeing what you have decorated in your Potting Shed….and the fur babies. I’m not a cook but your table settings are beautiful also. Thanks for the tips today.

  30. August 2, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    I had no idea about the alum trick! So glad I caught this today for that alone! Your hosta leaves are so pretty, I used to have so many different hostas in Ohio, but alas, can’t grow those in Florida. I miss them, but I can grow foxtails outside year round and use that foliage a lot in my floral arrangements.

  31. August 2, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Mary, your creativity and talent are both so amazing! Flower therapy is better than retail therapy! Gorgeous arrangements, full of color and texture! The Monarch sightings are so exciting, I am hoping to see some flitting around my garden.

  32. Joan
    August 2, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Those pumpkins are a good sign, Autumn is on the way!

  33. Marion
    August 2, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    I love those Pansies. They are beautiful as are all your flowers.

  34. Marilyn
    August 2, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Those Monarch butterflies are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your lovely garden.

  35. Paula
    August 2, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    The color of the flowers, and all the arrangements you made are absolutely Beautiful !!!

  36. August 2, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    I’ve always loved your arrangements with fruit and that’s something I’ve not done and I should. Dahlias and zinnias are the essence of summer flowers to me. Adding an assortment of greenery from the garden makes any arrangement special I think.I also like using hosta around a vase. Looks pretty.
    I’m excited you have seen two monarchs in a week. Maybe they have laid some eggs. That would be wonderful.

  37. Cynthia Raines
    August 2, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    So pretty Mary! Thanks for all the great tips. Will pin for sure!

  38. August 3, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I always love learning from you, Mary! Thanks for your great tips. Hope you have a beautiful day in your garden. 🌺🌻🌾

  39. August 3, 2017 at 9:23 am

    SOOOO much beauty (and info) all in one post! Mary, you continually outdo yourself, to our delight! You could be a professional florist for sure. I never thought of using the produce bags! I always come away from your posts with some new knowledge, so thank you!

  40. August 3, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Your flower arrangements are just spectacular. The way you combine different colors, flowers, and fruit is so artful. I pinned a ton of your beautiful photos. Thanks so much for providing such inspiration.

  41. August 3, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    You are so talented with your floral arrangements! I wish I could follow you around for a day and just watch. So inspiring!

  42. Aquitelife
    August 3, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    So much beauty, I keep thinking I will have a color filled future to start playing again, although it will be a long time coming! You have me craving fall, it’s all gorgeous. And so dang fun to have your blog load again!

  43. August 3, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    So many gorgeous flowers here as well as excellent tips. I’m headed to Trader Joe’s tomorrow to buy my flowers for the weekend. I’m so lucky to have 3 TR stores easy distance from me. Have a great weekend!

  44. August 6, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I just think you can’t outdo yourself on this one—amazing post…So informative and put together and GORGEOUS! Thanks, I have pinned bunches. Sandi

  45. Gentle Joy Photography
    August 7, 2017 at 10:02 am

    What beautiful arrangements… and thank you for the tips and illustrative pictures… just lovely. :)

  46. August 7, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Mary, I had to stop in to thank you for sharing at Gardens Galore! Have a wonderful week!

  47. Jane Teague
    August 9, 2017 at 7:14 am

    These are such gorgeous bouquets! And the tips are excellent, too! Thank you so much for this beautiful post. You deserved the butterfly visitor! ;-)

  48. August 9, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Beautiful photos and arrangements!! Thanks for all the great tips! 🙂

  49. August 11, 2017 at 6:56 am

    Absolutely stunning. Thank you for sharing your tips. I’m sharing your post. Hugs, Linda on Poinsettia Drive

  50. Laurel
    May 1, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Hi , beautiful post and very helpful. How do you anchor fruit especially lovely pumpkins.
    Thank you!

  51. April 15, 2019 at 6:29 am

    first – excellent title – ha
    and thanks for the tips

  52. Barbara Alexander
    April 17, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Was very interesting !!!! I love flowers, esp Lavender ones !!!

  53. Amanda
    April 19, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Just found your page… the alum trick.. how long do you leave it setting on the stems before adding to the vase with water? Thanks!🌺

  54. Teresa
    April 20, 2019 at 5:44 am

    Very nice also very informative

  55. Vanita
    April 26, 2019 at 11:59 am

    Thank you for your advice on keeping flowers fresh after being cut. I enjoyed reading this article, you included so many helpful tips on different arrangements and the the containers to be used.

  56. Donna Talbot
    April 26, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Thank you so much. I’ve been looking for a simple recipe for extending the life of fresh-cut flowers. You made my day!!

  57. June 3, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Thank you for the great tips on flower arrangement. Beautiful flowers. I truly enjoyed the blog.

  58. Sue Dugan
    June 11, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Your arrangements are absolutely stunning! I am going to try your tips and I can only hope they will turn out as beautiful as yours. Thank you so much for sharing, they brightened my day and truly inspired me.

  59. Emily
    June 17, 2019 at 9:08 am

    You are so talented and creative…..I ALWAYS love your posts!

  60. June 29, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Love this site!

  61. Ellen
    October 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Wonderful advice…loooove your arrangements!!! I am totally going there! Thanks for your posts!

  62. Yolanda
    October 3, 2019 at 7:44 am

    How do/or what do you use to put the fruit in your arrangements?

  63. Vandita
    October 5, 2019 at 8:35 am

    Loved your post !
    Want to know if the homemade floral preservative is to be used as it is or is it to be added in a small quantity to the water in a vase.

    • October 5, 2019 at 9:28 am

      Hi Vandita, The floral preservative IS your vase water. ⚘ :)

  64. nydia barardo
    February 19, 2020 at 10:56 am

    I absolutely love your flower arrangements! Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

  65. Tabatha
    March 10, 2020 at 7:23 am

    Wow!!!! What breathtakingly beautiful arrangements! The monarch obviously agrees! ;) You definitely have a talent!!! I’m so glad I caught this great article! Thank you for the tips and tricks! I know they will come in handy! Saved them to pinterest so I can refer back to them.

  66. March 10, 2020 at 9:27 am

    With spring soon to be coming, your arrangements inspire me

  67. March 11, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    I’m so happy I found your blog!! 😍 Your creations are beautiful and I’m in love with how you think outside of the box. This is probably my favorite floral post ever. Thank you!!

  68. March 17, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    Wow 🤩 I’ve never seen anybody use a cabbage head as a table center piece, with gorgeous flowers 🌸 placed inside with a vase. You can’t even see the vase. Your very creative. What I enjoyed so much is that “even I can do it!” You should write a book called “Flower Arrangements For Dummy’s .” ☺️ You show pictures and give step by step instructions, which even “non-creative” people like “myself” can follow. Together your steps and pictures show us how we too can make our home look elegant. Thank you so much 🙏🏻 ☺️, and please keep on posting ideas.

  69. Ray Castillo
    April 5, 2020 at 8:38 am

    When you mean add 1 part of an ingredient to 3 parts water,,, what does that mean,,,in cups?? Or ounces , liters??

    • April 5, 2020 at 8:53 am

      ‘1 part to 3 parts’ is a ratio, so it depends on how much you are making. If you’re making 1 cup, you would use 1/4 cup lemon-lime soda mixed with 3/4 cups water.

  70. Gayle Zachariasen
    May 12, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Our Farmers Market in Vancouver, WA is offering on-line orders for produce, flowers, etc., during the pandemic. We call when we get to the market, and they load our order in our trunk. No personal contact. I am glad I am going to be able to purchase the flowers and produce we enjoy during the summer. I am going to try some of your arrangements, adding in the numerous roses and hydrangeas from my garden.

  71. Gayle Zachariasen
    June 2, 2020 at 12:30 am

    I love your floral arrangements and tips on how to make our own arrangements.

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