floral design tips

When my husband and I go on dates, the conversation sometimes turns to “what do you want to do when we grow old?” My answer has always been that I’d like to live in France and Italy each for a few months and take cooking classes from the finest chefs, and floral classes from true artists. Last night, I got a glimpse of what my retirement could look like by taking a Floral Design Tips class from a true artist, and it’s everything I dreamed it would be!

The designers at Le Jardin Fracais design for some of the most high-end weddings, homes and gardens in our beautiful city (and elsewhere – she’s big time!) Originally from Paris she grew up in the family business of floral design and entertaining. To watch her is like being in the presence of a master. To be in her boutique feels like stepping into a Parisian floral shop.

The class started with Marie-Laure putting together an arrangement while walking us through tips. At the same time she was creating a bouquet in a vase, another exemplary florist, Marion Sadeoux, assembled the French way of creating a bouquet. This is called a “bouquet rond” (or French hand bouquet) and it’s built in the hand, and tied before putting it inside a vase.

arrange properly

When arranging a floral arrangement (or even just holding them in your hand when picking them up), the stems of the plants should not be in a straight line at the bottom. They shouldn’t be grouped with stems clenched together. This puts pressure on the flower, doesn’t allow it room to grow and open, and is shortening the length of time your arrangement survives.

Solution: the stems should be in a “swirl” formation. All the stems should almost go in a circular pattern which allows the blooms at the top to not be pressed together with pressure on them, and no breakage of the stem below.

Look at how Marion (another incredible floral designer) is holding this bouquet rond arrangement. Can you see how the stems are not touching, but rather flaring out as she forms the arrangement at the top?

stay mold free

Absolutely no foliage goes in water. It creates mold and algae, which is the enemy of your arrangement. Clean all stems first. You should have about 1/3 of your stem be flower and foliage for the top of the arrangement, the rest clean stems.

All stems should touch bottom of vessel. Ensure that when you cut the stem that they are long enough to hit the bottom of the vase. This ensures they get adequate water. When Marie-Laure placed each flower or foliage piece in the vase, she would push it down until she felt the bottom of the stem hit. I know sometimes I would have shorter stems thinking that was OK because they still reached water. It’s not and that’s because water can quickly evaporate leaving those stems dry!

cut properly

You may be cutting your flowers wrong. I was. I was using scissors or everyday garden tools. Yes, I cut on the diagonal like I had been taught a long time ago for hydration, but a low quality tool is still breaking the stem through it’s lack of pressure and lack of sharpness. The cutting technique is critical to allow full hydration and increase the longevity of your arrangement.

Also, always, cut your flowers before putting them in water. If you buy them from a grocery store, they need a fresh new cut to allow hydration.

In this photograph you can see the pruning shears they use – I now own a pair and they are far sharper and stronger than ones you can buy at a local nursery. Their cut is even, deliberate and creates less damage to the stem.

hydrangea Tips

Since hydrangea are my favorite flowers I wanted to know more specifics on how to care for this particular flower.I learned that if your hydrangea are starting to wilt, cut them and place them in boiling water for 15-20 minutes. For more hydrangea care tips visit this blog post!


St Regis Atlanta lobby centerpiece.

Georgia florists and Marie-Laure Coste Dujols.

Sterling pink roses and succulents.
Marie-Laure Coste Dujols
Atlanta flower shops with classes to learn tips from a master florist.
White and Green flower arrangement.
Flower Arranging Tips
How to arrange flowers with hydrangea.
Purple and white Flowers.
Atlanta florista and Atlanta floral classes.
Le Jardin Fracais

floral arrangement essentials




  1. Avatar
    Victoria Watson
    July 9, 2016 / 6:38 pm

    She’s amazing some of the most beautiful floral arrangements I have ever seen

  2. Avatar August 31, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    These are some really beautiful examples of well done floral arrangements. I have always loved hydrangeas as well and I didn’t realize that if you use boiling water it can help them stop wilting. It does seem like it would be best to have a professional do it for you if you don’t have time or flowers to do this yourself.

    • Kelly
      September 1, 2016 / 1:12 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Emily! I actually find that just using very warm water from the tap before I put them in the vase does the trick! I’ve even cut them late in the day when they are dry and water deprived and the warm water perks them right up!

    • Kelly
      September 30, 2016 / 10:39 am

      Thank you, so much! She is truly an amazing florist. It was an honor to take a class from her! If you have any tips you’d like to share perhaps we can figure out how to collaborate on a blog post? Thanks for the comment!

  3. Avatar January 5, 2017 / 3:44 pm

    I’m thinking about getting a florist to help me decorate my home. It’s good to know that all stems should touch the bottom of a vessel so that they get enough water. Something else to consider is to get help from a florist that you like and get along with. That way, you will be more willing to follow their advice.

    • Kelly
      January 6, 2017 / 8:02 am

      Absolutely true! I think that’s true in life. My Mom always told me “you can’t be an expert at everything. Develop what you’re good at, and then go to other people who are good at something else for advice.” It seems we live in a world where we are “supposed” to be good at everything, but that’s impossible. Finding a florist who studies and knows their trade is invaluable – as is anyone who studies and knows their trade! Very good thoughts, Sarah, thank you!

  4. Avatar February 7, 2018 / 8:35 pm

    I do like how you mentioned that it would be wise to have a circular pattern when forming a flower design as it will avoid the flowers being pressed together and gives the arrangement better longevity. That is something I will be sure to remember and ask for that when I find the perfect florist that can do my arrangement idea. Valentine’s day is getting near which is why I need to find the perfect florist soon. Thanks!

    • Kelly
      March 12, 2018 / 1:47 pm

      Did you end up finding a good florist, Jeremy?

  5. Avatar
    May 3, 2018 / 3:27 pm

    One comment – never “boil” any living plant or organism unless your intention is to cook it.
    I believe what you meant to say was to bring water to a boil, cool for a couple of minutes, then soak the stems, and stems only.
    While all of this may seem intuitive, you’d be surprised at how many people will end up cooking their flowers instead of reviving them.

Please share your thoughts!

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