Amazing Vases

Pick the right container to give your flowers maximum impact.

Picking the wrong vase is a sure way to wither a fresh flower arrangement. Here are some expert tips for pairing the right vessel with the right bouquet:

Shallow, bowl-shaped containers are a good choice for tables where you want to see over the arrangement. Many types of vessels can work, from soup bowls to sherbet glasses and coffee cups. Short-stemmed blossoms, such as violets, impatiens, and begonias, are best suited for these containers. To create a rounded arrangement, cut floral foam so that it fits inside the container and rises an inch or so above the top. Crisscross floral tape to hold the foam in place. Insert some flowers at an angle pointing down so that they overlap the edge.

Tip: To camouflage floral foam in a glass vase, line the container with moss or broad, flat foliage, such as these tulip leaves, before inserting the water-soaked foam.

There's a good reason why an urnlike shape is the most popular for vases: It makes the most sense for flower arranging. The narrow neck holds the flowers in place while the wider bottom and slightly flared top allow the stems and blooms to spread out. Virtually any kind of flower works well in this type of vase, but it is particularly well-suited to lilies, spider mums, and other flowers with large, showy heads. When assembling a single-flower arrangement, let taller stems with tighter blossoms or buds define the upper and outer edges of the design. Place larger, showier heads near the bottom for balance.

Tip: To make arranging easier and to keep vase water clean, strip the leaves from the portion of the stem that falls below the waterline. Also, change the water when it becomes cloudy.

Bud vases come in a range of sizes and shapes. The one trait they share is a narrow neck. Flowers with distinctively shaped heads on graceful stems, such as tulips and roses, are a good choice because they look good alone and echo the graceful lines of the base. For a pleasing balance, the tallest element should be two-thirds higher than the vase.

You're likely to find these sturdy vessels being used in other ways around the house -- as buckets, water pitchers, mugs, and crocks. Often as wide as they are tall, these containers make excellent flower vases since they can accommodate all kinds of stems. Strong-stemmed clustered flowers such as daisies and yarrow work especially well. For floppier flowers, you may need a device to hold the stems in place, such as floral foam, a needlepoint holder (called a frog), crushed chicken wire, or a lattice of floral tape.

Tip: Large-mouthed containers, such as this crock, often need a holding device to keep flowers evenly spaced. A quick and easy solution is to create a lattice across the top from strips of floral tape.


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