Rittners School Of Floral Design
In Boston Presents....

How To Arrange
Flowers In Water

Arranging flowers in a glass container in water, has become quite popular. The technique is actually a very old one that was practiced by floral designers for many years prior to the invention of foam. It is enjoying contemporary popularity for three major reasons.

  • First of all, the flowers are all in water, and thus will generally last a bit better than in a foam base.
  • Secondly, it is pleasing visually. Designs stylized in water tend to look quite natural.
  • Finally, it is also a good way to arrange flowers that may not last well at all in a foam base such as Calla Lilies, or Iris.
We hope that you enjoy your explorations of stylizing flowers in water.

What You Will Need

  • Glass Container
  • 10-12 red carnations
  • 10-15 snapdragon
  • 12 roses
  • Baker fern
  • 1/2-1 bunch of miniature carnations
  • A few stems of pompons
  • Statice

  • The trick to arranging flowers easily in a water base is to start with a wise choice of a glass container. While you can design flowers in virtually any glass vase, make your life a little easier. If possible, use a glass vase where there is a narrowing of the neck or tapered effect. (Wider necks & mouths are also possibilities, but require much more work.)

    Start by filling the container with water. Be sure to add florist's preservative. This will help to keep the water cleaner a little longer, and also feed some food to the flowers. This simple step can help your flowers last longer then they otherwise might.

    Start with your foliage. In this particular case we are using baker fern also called leather leaf. Fill the base with your baker fern as shown in the picture. This creates the mechanics of the design. As flowers are added to the arrangement, their stems will criss cross with the stems of the foliage. The foliage stems help to hold the flower stems in place. The flower stems combined with the foliage will hold even more stems in place.

    This is well illustrated by the addition of the snapdragon shown in the photo. We are starting at the back side of the design, and placing the snapdragon from the left, to the right. The height of the snapdragon is at least twice the height of the container. Notice that the snapdragon are staying in place quite nicely for us due, of course, to the baker fern!! The overall shape is a fan or radiating one.

    Place a few more snaps into place, working some closer to the front of the design coming a little bit lower. Once we complete adding the snapdragon, let's go on to a second this case roses. Roses are an ideal flower to use to stylize arrangements in water because they do tend to be rather tempermental in terms of lasting quality. Placing them into a water base with preservative is certainly good for their health. Notice that in our placement of the roses, some are placed high and to the back of the design, and others are gradually placed lower and in towards the focal area of the design. What appeared rather sparse a minute ago, certainly seems to be filling out quite nicely.

    After placing our roses, lets add a few carnations to the mix. They are big, make a good show and come in a wide variety of colors. Notice again how we start at the rear back of the design, and gradually come down towards the front baseline.

    As you can see by now, this design is essentially a one-sided arrangement. That is to say that there is both a front side and a back side. The design could also be made to be viewed on all sides, (however that is the subject for but another lecture!!)

    Finally we finish this design by adding a mixture of a few other flowers. Some lovely miniature carnations help to add color and contrast. Some cushion poms add a bright counter point to your floral design. A little bit of statice is tucked in to add contrast and texture.

    One approach that may help you with your designing is to consider the various shapes of flowers that we have used in this arrangement. We've mixed a spike flower (eg. snapdragon) with face flowers (such as carnations, roses & mini carnations), and with a filler flower (eg. statice). You can follow the same formula with many other combinations. Mix tall glads with fuji mums and montecasino. On the other hand, mix delphinium, lilies and a touch of baby's breath. Of course this same style can be created simply using one or two flowers such as the classic vase of a dozen or 18 roses with a little filler of some sort.

    We hope that you really enjoyed this brief floral design lesson. At Rittners School of Floral Design in Boston we provide floral design instruction that includes a wide range of different styles and techniques. Please come and take one of our hands-on workshop programs!!

  • Rittners Floral Education Center returns you to our Floral Education Center.

    Your Webmaster is Dr. Steve Rittner, who may be reached at All photographs and text on this page are Copyright - Rittners School, and may not be reproduced, or used for any commercial purposes.


  • image