An extra-big helping of winter has made spring feel awfully far away. While you wait for your garden to come out of hiding, store-bought flowers can lift your mood, fast. Interior designers know that every room needs a living accent, and you can bring home the look yourself for less than you think. Just pick up a bunch when you buy your groceries, and follow these tips to get way more than your money’s worth by extending the life of your flowers to at least two weeks:
1. Choose hardy, inexpensive breeds. Chrysanthemums can be big or small, can look like pom-poms or daisies, and come in almost all colors except blue. Their cousins, asters and zinnias, are great bets, too. Another advantage of asters and mums is that they are affordable, hearty and have long lives.
Mixing analogous (side-by-side) hues like yellow/yellow-orange/orange or pink/deep pink/purple is an easy way to add visual depth. Gladioli are a retro fave; the dramatic stems have orchid-like florets you can just keep deadheading for weeks (cut the stems shorter as you go). Carnations got no respect for ages but have made a comeback for their fluffy, perky charm, even at weddings. Mini-carnations have many small blooms on a spray; they’re my personal favorite for low-cost, long-lasting style.
2. Bring in a touch of the exotic. Alstroemeria, or Peruvian lilies, have a mini-orchid look that lasts.
All of these flowers can be found for somewhere around $5 – $10 a bunch and can last a couple of weeks with minimal care. By “minimal” care, I don’t mean “none.” Change the water a couple of times a week; more often for alstroemeria to avoid an unpleasant smell. Baby’s breath, statice and other small, hardy flowers that dry well are smart filler that lasts forever. Use ‘em in water now and when everything else is gone, use them dried.
3. Avoid dyed flowers. Always avoid dyed mums, daisies or carnations; they’re only chic in their natural hues. Also, just say no to “whatever we had left” bouquets at the grocer. Choose bouquets of one, two or at most, three colors for chic simplicity.
4. Use simple prep to lengthen life of flowers. When you get the flowers home, cut about a half-inch off of the stems and put them immediately into cool water for a few hours. When you’re ready to arrange them, cut another inch off the stems, stand them up in your hand and look for a vessel that’s about one-third the height of the tallest flowers for a classically pleasing proportion. Fill your vessel about halfway with water. Add half the packet of floral food (usually comes with the bunch) to retard bacteria or add or a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of bleach to do the same thing. Store the remaining packet where kids and pets can’t get it.
5. Use colorful, chic containers to display the flowers. Use a vase, pitcher, jar or waterproof can; I use china pitchers whenever possible for their casual charm, vases of colored (not clear) glass, or even patio beverage glasses that look like the real thing. It’s all about the color!
Many pink and red flowers also have a yellow center that would echo the yellow of this pitcher. Easiest of all: A grass-green vase that blends with leaves and lets any type of flower be the star.
6. Arrange flowers for the best presentation. Put the tallest flowers in the middle of the vase (or the back of the vase if it will be used against a wall) and work your way down to the shortest pieces around the lip of the vase, so all can be seen. If you’re using various sized blooms, all in one color, space the big ones around evenly and fill in with small ones to create interesting texture. If you’re using several colors, space them around evenly and fill in with alternate colors. Cut stems in a few different lengths for added interest.
Midweek, replace the water, and after a week, replace it again, this time adding the rest of your flower food. Before you put the blooms back, cut another inch off the stems and take off any dead blossoms. You can do this for weeks, until you’re down to a darling arrangement in a 3-oz. juice glass. My mother-in-law gave me some teensy cordial glasses that look like wine glasses for an American Girl doll; they’re perfect vases for the last few blossoms on the shortest stems. In fact by then, your snowdrops should be up and you can add them to the mini-vase!
Don’t stop there. Keep the garden inspiration going with floral upholstery and accents or solids in springtime hues.
Florals and spring colors on your accents, bedding and furniture will make you happy a lot longer than any late winter getaway. Before you know it, spring will have sprung!
Lively zig-zag stripes in pretty colors give a spring-like feeling any time of year. Designers advise using an accent hue in at least three places in your room, so choose store-bought blooms that pick up one of the colors in this chic ottoman from Sam Moore Furniture.
Flowers don’t have to be pastels or primaries. Here, an Arts and Crafts-inspired rose design in cream on brown in this Ellis carved wood chair would look elegant with creamy-white storebought flowers now and apricot tulips later.
The celadon green of a young willow is the most adaptable background for just about any flower color. In this pretty, roll-armed Sam Moore sofa, it’s the handsome complement to classic rose-pinks and white.
Pink and white flowers are some of the easiest to find at the grocery store, so have fun coordinating!
A couple of distinctive, patterned pillows make a statement when backed up by budget-wise pillows in any or all of the solid colors in the print. Toss in a couple of striped, checked or plaid pillows in the same hues for designer impact.