Food & Home

Flower Arranging by Vase

I love to pick up a nice bunch of flowers when I see some of my faves at the market (peonies, lillies, hydrangeas, to name a few), but when I get them home I never know how to arrange them in a way that looks, well, good. We thought it would be a better idea to see what vases we already had and work backwards, finding flowers to fit. The Martha Stewart in me is nerding out with excitement over the fact that I may finally be able to properly arrange flowers at home.

Love, gp

The Vase

We took them to Wild at Heart, Nikki Tibbles’ wonderful shop (institution, really) in London, and set her the challenge of making arrangements for all our different shapes and sizes.

She showed us what and how to arrange in every single vase. Scroll down to see how she tackles each arrangement.

The Column

Column vases can be daunting, but they’re easier to use than you’d think. Keep your flower stems long, as you’ll only need to trim, and create a loose arrangement with a few varieties.


Start by stripping each stem of any foliage besides the flower or leaves you’d like to highlight. Cut all your flowers to a similar stem height (you can then shorten the stems as you go).

Begin with your foliage. Insert a few stems (Nikki says it’s best to work in odd numbers) pointing them in different directions. The foliage stems will anchor the rest of you arrangement.

Now insert your longest flowers—these are the ones that are going to stand out most. In this case, Nikki used foxgloves. Nikki emphasizes always putting the flower in the direction it wants to go. So, if it’s leaning left, let it lean left.

Keep adding flowers variety by variety and work in a circle, always walking around the vase, making sure to cover every angle.

Now push the stems into the vase a bit and squish in a few strands of ivy to surround (and disguise) the stems.

You’d be surprised; a little water, changed often, goes a long way.


The Flared Vase

Flared vases can be tricky, as the shape doesn’t lend your arrangement much structure. That’s where learning how to make a bouquet comes in handy…

The Hourglass Flared Vase

Remove surplus foliage and cut stems to a similar size. You will trim again at the end.

  1. Start by pairing a bit of foliage with your focal flower, in this case, a rose and white leaf.
  2. Add a flower from each stack, one by one. If you’re right handed, hold the bouquet in your left hand and add flowers with your right. Add each flower at a sharp angle, lock it in, and hold it down with your left thumb. This will give your bouquet its pyramid shape.
  3. Keep adding flowers and foliage, rotating the bouquet in your hand.
  4. Make sure you don’t have too much of one flower or color in one section.

Tie some twine around the bouquet to hold it together.

Wrap the bouquet with ivy and insert into the vase.


The Cone

Surprisingly, a dramatic shape like this one is relatively easy to arrange for. The peculiar shape of the vase itself will give your arrangement a unique look.

Go for big bushy varieties like lilacs that can easily fill up the vase.

Follow the same instructions as above: Add each flower at a sharp angle, lock it in, and hold it down. Note the sharp angle each flower is inserted and then locked under Nikki’s thumb.

Disguise the cone with some ivy or another kind of foliage and top with your arrangement.

Another statement bouquet down.

The Regular Flared Vase

This is the kind of vase that most of us probably have at home and yet it’s surprisingly difficult to get right, as opposed to more dramatic shapes like the cone above.

  1. Here, Nikki builds her arrangement into a bouquet. This time, she doesn’t tie the stems. She holds the bouquet next to the vase and trims the stems (always at an angle so they’ll absorb more water) to the desired height.
  2. She carefully puts the arrangement in the vase, holding the bouquet tight until it’s released in the water.

Cut Glass Vase

These old-fashioned looking vases benefit from a tight, formal bouquet.

All you’ll need is a tight bouquet of roses tied with twine. To disguise the twine, use a ribbon and pin it to the bouquet as demonstrated above.

  1. Take a short length of ribbon and wrap it around the bouquet.
  2. Pin the first piece of ribbon into the bouquet.
  3. Fold the other edge of the ribbon.
  4. Pin it into the bouquet. Now insert the bouquet into the vase.

A finished, formal bouquet.

Cube Vase

Hydrangeas are a great flower to use in a cube vase. They’re big and bushy and this contrasts well with an angular and squat vase like the cube.

The trick here is to trim the leaves off the hydrangea stem and save them for the vase.

Fill the cube with water and then push the hydrangea leaves against all sides of the glass.

Create a bouquet of hydrangeas, and tie it with twine.

Cut the stems so that the blooms will sit right on the lip of the vase and you’re done.

The Pitcher

Nikki shows us how to arrange for two different kinds of pitchers. A bouquet arrangement works for both—the ceramic pitcher being the easiest, as the stems are disguised and all you see are the blooms.

For a delicate glass pitcher like this one, keep it simple and loose with sweet peas and alchemilla.

Nikki creates a loose bouquet as shown above for the flared vase.

She holds the stems in place and then gently releases them in the water.

And there you have it… Note that because she builds her arrangements in one direction, the stems flare out in that same direction when they’re put in the vase, which has an elegant effect.

Ceramic Pitcher

This one’s so easy because the stems are disguised. Create a big bouquet of hydrangeas and tie with twine. Cut to size so that the blooms sit right on the pitcher’s lip and that’s it.

The Tall Rounded Vase

Keep it simple with one single variety of tall stemmed flowers such as lilies or, in this case, delphiniums.

Strip the stems to the height of the lip of the vase.

Bunch several together and then let them loosen once inside the vase. Here, Nikki removes any last distracting buds.

A simple, yet striking arrangement.

Small arrangements

Using small vases—even jam jars and water glasses that you have at home—is probably the easiest way to go. The key is to create loose, uneven, multi-floral arrangements in sets of three or more mini vases. Short arrangements are best for the dinner table, as they won’t get in the way of conversation.

Here, Nikki created uneven combos in small bud vases, and then brings several bud vases together. Keep in mind that these look better in groups.

Here’s a formal mini arrangement, made with Guelder roses and herbs that you might find in your garden, for your basic water glasses or tumblers.

We loved these jam jar arrangements that were on display at the shop.