FLOWER CLASS: POTTED FLOWERS
In this class, I’ll show you how you can have beautiful fresh flowers in your life all winter long. Sound unlikely? Not as much as you may think. While it’s true that cut flowers are often expensive and short-lived (especially in winter), they’re not your only option.
You can find a variety of gorgeous flowers in many colors, shapes and sizes at very reasonable cost – and you will find them growing happily in little pots of dirt at local nurseries or retail garden departments, or even in the floral section of your local grocery store.
In this class you will learn:
- How to select healthy flowering plants that will bring sunshine into your home all the way into Spring.
- Where to find the perfect containers to show them off.
- How to plant your flowers.
- Finally, a few easy tricks to keep your flower display at its prettiest for days, sometimes even weeks.
Before you go shopping for flowers, look around your home for possible spots where you might want to place an arrangement. Pick a place where you’ll see it all the time. On your dining table? Coffee table? In the front hall or on the kitchen counter? And think about how much space you want your flowers to take up. This will help when you’re looking for the right container.
FIRST STEP: CHOOSE A CONTAINER
It’s so much fun to look for unexpected, inexpensive (or even free) containers to show off your pretty flowers. Every container has its own style and as you experiment with different ones, you’ll be delighted to see the way they change the feel of your composition. Keep in mind that whatever one you choose, it will become an equal partner in your arrangement.
Here, I’ve placed the same white primrose placed in several very different containers. Notice the way each pot or vase completely changes the look of the flowers.
WHERE DO I LOOK?
Open your cupboard doors and see what’s inside. You may be surprised to find a lot of options as you start to see familiar objects in a new light. Mugs, kitchen bowls, and even colanders can make surprising flower vases.
Next, look at local thrift stores. Talk about a treasure hunt! I just found a half-off clearance at GoodWill, and bought a bunch of great containers for under $10! [Keep scrolling to see what I did with a few of them.]
You can also keep your eye out for useful containers at neighborhood garage sales, but you may have to wait for warmer weather. Of course, there is an unending supply of wonderful containers in every home store and online, as well.
Remember, you can use ANY CONTAINER (except clear glass), as long as it’s at least a few inches deep with a shape that will hold soil and a root ball. Even if it’s not watertight (a basket or carton, for example), you can easily fix that by either lining the container with heavy plastic or placing a plastic container inside.
HOW MANY PLANTS SHOULD I BUY?
Select one or more containers to hold the flowering plants for your display and use the size of the containers to estimate how many plants you will need to buy. And always buy more than you think you’ll need, just in case.
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE BEST PLANTS?
Now it’s time to shop for your flowers. Wherever you see plants on display at a nursery or garden store, you can be pretty sure they are at their freshest. In-season plants have the advantage of being budget-friendly as well.
A FEW THINGS TO HELP YOU:
- Pick up the plant if you can. If it feels very light, that will tell you it needs water because the soil is dry — a sign that maybe the plants aren’t being watched over as well as they should be. Well-watered plants feel heavy.
- Tip the plant sideways and look underneath. Lots of dried-up leaves will tell you the plant’s been around awhile, so may not be the best purchase. Leaves should be very green and healthy-looking.
- Look into the center of the plant from the top by gently spreading apart the flowers. If you see multiple buds there, that means your plant will continue to bloom and bloom as each bud opens. Now here’s the thing: If you find a gorgeously blooming plant and you want it for tonight’s dinner party, don’t worry about whether it has unopened buds or not.It is at the peak of its beauty so let it shine! But if you want your plant to keep you company for days or weeks, always look for the buds.
Pick out plants in colors and shapes that bring a smile to your face and bring them home. Now you have your plants and containers, and an idea of where your arrangement is going to be displayed.
NEXT STEP: PREPARE THE PLANTS FOR POTTING
GIVE THEM A SOAK:
When you first bring home your plants, fill a plastic bin (big enough to accommodate all your plants) with about 2-3” of water and place the pots inside, right side up. Let them stay in the “bath” for several hours while the water soaks through the holes in the bottom of the cartons and thoroughly hydrates all the dirt. Watering from the top-only never assures a plant will be fully hydrated, so this is an easy and important step to take before you start planting. You’ll know your plants are ready when you lift their cartons; the soil will be damp on the surface and feel heavy — and that’s what you want. (Caution: don’t leave them more than a few hours or they will get waterlogged.)
TIME FOR GROOMING:
When plants are growing in the yard, a few stray wilted blooms or dead leaves won’t be noticed. But if you’re inviting these little delights to come into your home and stay awhile, they will need to be perfectly groomed and looking their best for their starring moment.
What I call “grooming” means inspecting each of your plants and snipping off any dead or dying leaves and flowers. Use a sharp, long-bladed scissors so you can reach way down to the base of each stem or leaf and snip it off. (Cutting off the fading parts also allows the healthy parts of the plant to receive more energy.)
NOW IT’S TIME TO CREATE!
After all your preparations, it’s time to put your beautiful flowers into their container(s) and show them off.
MAKING YOUR DIRT BALL FIT INTO ITS CONTAINER:
Sometimes, the plant you’ve chosen will fit perfectly into the container you are using. More often, the dirt ball around the plant roots will have to be cut to the right size to fit.
I know it seems shocking to cut off some of the dirt around your little plants, but trust me – I’ve done it many times and it won’t hurt them a bit. Just handle them gently, and as long as you leave the central roots intact, you can cut off most of the dirt around the outside and the plant will be fine. If this worries you, remember, it is not a long-term situation! Just a week or two, maybe, and then those pretty plants can go out in the garden.
And if for some reason they don’t make it, your investment is so small that you just can’t go wrong. (Remember, too, that if you were using cut flowers, they would have been long gone by now, anyway.)
A FEW IDEAS FOR HOW YOUR FINISHED PROJECT CAN LOOK:
These examples illustrate perfectly how you can take a few humble, inexpensive flowering plants – place them in a decorative container on a pretty table cover, and achieve a stunning arrangement that, given a little care, will last for days and days.
THE “WOW” IS IN THE DETAILS!
In composing your floral creations, there are a few small details that make a huge difference in the finished look of your composition. In this project, you’re bringing flowers that are growing in soil into your living space, which creates a dilemma: nobody wants to see DIRT in the house, much less on a dinner table or countertop!
Fortunately, there is a very simple solution to this problem, and here it is: Just cover every inch of visible soil with beautiful, natural moss – and I promise that this 10-second detail will take your floral bouquet from “Pretty” to “Wow, who’s your florist?” It is this simple step that makes a huge, huge difference and literally transforms your arrangement from an outdoor plant to something meant to be enjoyed and admired inside your home.
Mosses come in a variety of types and colors: Spanish moss, reindeer moss, sheet moss and sphagnum, to name a few. Many are readily available at craft stores, nurseries and any big store with a floral supply department. Local florists may also have moss to sell, or you can order online.
FINAL NOTES ON CARING FOR YOUR POT OF FLOWERS
There are just a few essential tips you need to know to keep your flowers at their best:
- WATERING: Since there’s no drainage hole in your container, your plants (already well-hydrated before you plant them, remember?) will need very little water while they’re on display. It is very easy to overwater them, so resist the temptation with all your might. Every couple of days, poke your finger down under the moss into the dirt. If it’s dry to the touch, add just a small bit of water, depending on the size of the container. You can always add more water – but too much water leads to many a sad drowning incident, so I can’t emphasize this enough: too little water is better than too much!
- CONTINUE GROOMING: Your beautiful flowers will be in a spot where you can look at them every day. That’s part of the charm of having them inside – you get to see the miracle of life and growth unfolding before your eyes. Notice when a leaf starts to brown or a blossom starts to wilt and snip them off so the plant will stay looking its best.
- LIGHT & TEMPERATURE: All plants have their favorite growing conditions outdoors, but if you bring healthy plants inside for a short season, they will last well wherever you place them. Just remember, as a general rule, they like to be COOL and they don’t like lots of direct sunlight. In fact, if you want your arrangement to last much longer, take it to a very cool place at night, like the garage. This little bit of extra TLC will be worth the effort.
AND NOW IT’S TIME TO PLAY!
I hope this class has inspired you to go right out and find some colorful flowering plants to play with. Invite them in to brighten your home and give them a chance to make you smile! It’s what they were created to do.