Choosing the perfect vase

Bringing flowers into your home is one of the best ways to make your house feel cozy and inviting. But so many times, I hear friends say that they can’t arrange flowers. But it doesn’t have to be hard! By using a simple vase, no arranging is even necessary. Or try a creative container and follow a few tips for a more elaborate arrangement. But it all starts with a vase.

I’ve collected many vases over the years and am sharing the various styles I love and why. My favorite places to pick up new (old) vases are at estate sales, flea markets and second hand stores. I also love using everyday objects like drinking glasses and bowls as a flower container. Let’s start with the easiest:

Bottles & Bud vases

This is the easiest of all the vases to find and use. Old soda bottles, antique ink wells, empty olive oil oil bottles and simple ceramic vases with a small-neck opening are all options. No arranging is necessary, simply drop one stem or even three stems into the bottle. Use one bottle or a cluster for impact.

Narrow-necked vases

Narrow-necked vases can get a bad wrap because they are hard to “arrange” in. But that’s exactly why I like them. No arranging necessary. A narrow-necked vase is the best choice for a large statement piece (think mantle, table or entry) and can hold a dramatic branch (flowering plum in the spring, oak or magnolia in the fall) or several large plumes of grass or large allium heads. Look for terrariums or reproduction olive and cider jugs. If you find a vase with a lid that has holes in it, be sure to grab it. They make arranging a breeze.

Cylinder vases

A cylinder vase is the typical shape you think of when considering a flower vase. They can range from formal to a simple drinking glass. They hold a market bouquet or a bunch of flowers well. One of my favorite things is to mix high and low. For example, consider a simple juice glass for a cluster of “fancy” garden roses or a pottery crock for a bunch of extravagant peonies. Or try putting rustic zinnias or wildflowers in a designer vase. If your house has a more modern style, try placing flowers in an antique pitcher or if your abode is more casual farmhouse, use a matte vase with clean lines. Instead of making one large arrangement, consider using flower bouquets in multiples.

Planters, bowls & misc. containers

This category can be the most creative and hold simple to elaborate arrangements. Anything can be used–even porous containers if you use a plastic or glass liner. Clay pots, concrete planters, bowls, antique soup tureens, vintage tin cans…the sky is the limit. I often keep a large vase full of a single variety flower somewhere in my home; I love the simplicity of it (see the cheerful yellow daffodils in the rustic clay pot below). But don’t be afraid to experiment with more detailed arrangements. A few tips:

  • start with a liner, clean water and a flower frog or pin
  • choose your most rigid greenery and form an offset triangle
  • add a second layer of foliage or filler flowers like phlox or snapdragons, following the lines of the base
  • add focal flowers, working in odd numbers and keeping them low in the vase. Make sure that none of them are in the exact center
  • add any other flowers that you are using, filling in the gaps (but leave some space!)
  • finish with some fun vines or grasses that add texture and air

I hope this gives you some ideas about what to use as a flower vase and some tips to give you some courage to try some new things with flowers!




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