10 Design Elements for Beautiful Flower Arrangements

Person arranging flowers

The Spruce / Alyson Brown

It’s fun and simple to pick up a bunch of mixed cut flowers at the grocer and set them into a vase for some quick cheer at the table. However, with a little effort, you can turn a $10 bouquet into something a bit more artistic. Use the same design principles florists apply to their arrangements for professional-looking results.

Employ Radiation

You may use a material such as floral foam to achieve the perfect radiation of stems from your container or vase. The way your stems radiate should appear natural; it isn’t necessary to have perfect spacing between each stem. If some stems are too short to contribute to pleasing radiation in your design, you can elongate them with the use of wooden floral picks.

Aim for Balance

Balance in a floral arrangement doesn’t mean that every bouquet must be symmetrical. The final arrangement may have a crescent or right triangle shape and still be pleasing to the eye.

Check the balance of your arrangement by examining it from the front, back, and top of the bouquet. If your design looks crooked to you from one of these angles, counterbalance the arrangement by adding or removing flowers or foliage.

Use Contrasting Colors

Combining bright and dark flowers is a common way to give a floral arrangement extra eye appeal. Green flowers can play an important role in contrast, as they pop out against both warm and cool hues. If you favor the darkest burgundy flowers, which can appear nearly black in some lighting, place them beside white, pink, pale green, or peach flowers, so they don’t recede into the darkness.

Consider Dominance

A focal bloom can contribute to the dominance in a bouquet, but dominance can also mean a dominant flower is used throughout the design or a dominant texture like ruffled petals are featured in the design. The design element that is important to you can dominate your floral arrangement, whether it’s wildflowers or your impressive mixed zinnia cutting garden.

Add a Focal Point

Most mixed flower arrangements employ a focal point, which is usually a stunning large or unusual bloom or blossom cluster that draws the eye. These flowers are often more expensive than the rest of the filler flowers in the arrangement. A large peony, garden rose, or orchid will stand out from smaller flowers such as alstroemeria or poms.

Remember Proportion

Your flower arrangement should be in proportion with space where you will display it, as well as with the container or vase that hold the blooms. A petite nosegay can brighten up the countertop in a powder room but will go unnoticed in a large sitting room. Flower frogs may enable you to insert large blooms into small dishes, but unless you’re following ikebana principles, this pairing will not seem proportional.

Use Repetition

Just as repetition in the flower garden lends unity to the design that enhances its appearance, so does repetition in the vase, albeit on a smaller scale. You may have several bright yellow flowers scattered throughout the design or the careful placement of several spiky flowers like gomphrena or sea holly.

Consider Rhythm

A floral arrangement with good rhythm will make your eye wander across the entire design, rather than just causing you to glance and look away. Repetition can guide your eye across the design, but a varied bouquet can also provide a visual path for the eye to follow.

Include Transitions

When a mix of flower shapes and sizes are part of your floral arrangement, a gradual transition between the types will make the final result appear natural. This is important when gathering flowers in various states of bloom, such as peonies or roses. Place the smallest buds at the top and center of the design, followed by partially opened blooms, while inserting the full blossoms at the bottom or center of the arrangement.

Add Variety

There is much to be said for a large bouquet of roses, but variety creates excitement in a floral arrangement. Even if you are smitten with one type of flower, add variety to your piece with greenery or twigs.