Flowers for arrangements can be taken from flowering trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, and annuals. Annuals are some of the best candidates for cut flowers because they produce many flowers over a long season.
Shown here: 'Nadezhda' lilac
Mix flowers with different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. Foliage can play an important role in your arrangements. Ferns, ornamental grasses, hostas, and other leaves make wonderful additions to any bouquet.
Shown here: hosta species from Japan
Most flowers can be cut when their buds begin to show color. There are a few exceptions: dahlias, phlox, zinnias, marigolds, and chrysanthemums should be cut when the flowers are fully open.
Shown here: decorative dahlia (Dahlia 'Ryan C')
Want to create a bouquet with the flowers growing in your own garden, but overwhelmed by where to begin? This book by Linda Beutle is a handy resource to walk you through the entire process -- from cutting the blooms to creating special occasion arrangments.
Garden to Vase
Available at the NYBG Shop
Experts recommend gardeners cut their flowers first thing in the morning. Be sure to bring a bucket of lukewarm water in which to place the freshly cut stems. Once indoors, remove the leaves from the lower portions of the stem, re-cut an additional inch off the stem, and immediately place back into the water to prevent air locks from forming.
To prevent wilting, change water frequently and re-cut stems.
Shown here: aster (Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies')
The right vase can make or break your bouquet. It's key to select one that complements the size, weight, and color of the arrangement. Browse the well-chosen selection at The New York Botanical Garden's Shop to find one that's just right for you.
Available at the NYBG Shop
Let freshly cut flowers stand in a cool place out of direct sunlight in tepid water for several hours -- preferably overnight. Cut all stems at a 45-degree angle, and split woody stemmed branches from flowering trees and shrubs with a 1-inch verticle cut. Add cut flower food to extend bloom time.
Shown here: zinnia (Zinnia elegens)
Lengthen the lifespan of these popular blooms by submerging them head down in a bowl of cold water for one hour to firm their petals. Allow flowers to drip dry, cut their stems at a 45-degree angle, and place stems in warm water overnight.
Shown here: pink hydrangea
Daffodils exude a clear sap that can kill other flowers. Cut these flowers and soak them separately in a vase for one hour before adding them to your arrangements.
Plants with stems that tend to bend, such as tulips, are best bundled together and left to sit for several hours before being placed in an arrangement.
Shown here: daffodil (Narcissus)
For hollow stemmed flowers, like delphiniums, lupines, and amaryllis, insert a thin stick or wire in the stems with water and cover with a cotton ball at the base bound by a rubber band.
Shown here: delphinium (Delphinium King Arthur Group)
For more gardening tips, visit The New York Botanical Garden.