Which Flowers Make Good Arrangements?

Niki Foster

The best type of flowers for flower arrangements varies depending upon the style and purpose of the arrangement. Some of the most common flower arrangements in the West are bouquets given as gifts, centerpieces, and wreaths, and all of these may be used for different occasions for which different types of flowers may be appropriate. The style of flower arrangements also comes into play; for example, the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangements called ikebana customarily employs a different range of flower types than those common in Western flower arrangements.

White roses symbolize purity.
White roses symbolize purity.

The most common flowers for flower arrangements include roses, lilies, tulips, and irises. Other types of flowers are popular for certain styles or occasions or may go in and out of fashion, however, these four are some of the staples of flower arrangements. Traditional Asian flower arrangements make use of native Asian flowers such as iris and lotus blossoms. Flower arrangements for holidays or specific occasions may call for a certain type of flower, such as poinsettias for Christmas, roses for Valentine's Day, or white lilies for a funeral.

Petunias might be used as accent flowers in an arrangement.
Petunias might be used as accent flowers in an arrangement.

When making flower arrangements, choose flowers that complement each other in color and shape. To make an eye-catching arrangement, use flowers in various stages of bloom, with the fully open blossoms in the center as the focal point of the arrangement. Do not arrange all the flowers to face in the same direction, as this can look monotonous, and balance colors evenly throughout the arrangement. Incorporate both long and rounded shapes, and use greens for filler, perhaps with a few different textures.

A good florist will possess an exceptional eye for color and aesthetics when creating floral arrangements.
A good florist will possess an exceptional eye for color and aesthetics when creating floral arrangements.

When choosing flowers for an arrangement, it is important to be aware of any connotations they may have for the recipient. You may simply like the look of red roses, but the recipient is almost certain to take them as a declaration of love, so be sure your intentions match. The language of flowers often varies cross-culturally, so while white roses may mean purity to someone who grew up in the West, they may be an omen of death to someone from an Asian background.

Red roses are one of the most popular Valentine's Day gifts.
Red roses are one of the most popular Valentine's Day gifts.

Cultural meanings aside, you are limited only by your creativity when designing flower arrangements. Some florists make their arrangements stand out by including quirky elements such as coxcomb or colorful peppers.

Pink roses are often used in wedding bouquets.
Pink roses are often used in wedding bouquets.

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Discussion Comments


@croydon - There's not much worse than not knowing that and making a beautiful arrangement that only lasts a day or so because half the flowers will last for weeks and the other half wilt after a few hours.

Generally, if you are buying flowers from a store, however, they will last for a relatively long amount of time as long as you keep them in water, so that's not something you have to worry about.


@croydon - It does depend on what kind of effect a person wants. In a lot of cases it might be easier and more suitable to just use a single color and that's what I would recommend to someone without any training in fresh flower arrangements, as it's difficult to mess up.

Size and composition are also important though and the type of flower matters a lot as well. There are plenty of beautiful flowers that look like they would be splendid in an arrangement, but which don't last once they are cut.


One thing you might want to try is doing some research on color in general and how it is used in art. The very basics of that is to use complementary colors in order to make the arrangement pop out, but there are other tricks and styles you can go for.

I find blue and orange arrangements work best, as yellow and purple can be a bit too loud and of course, green and red will probably end up with only red flowers and lots of foliage.

Just using blue and orange might be a mistake though, depending on the kinds of flowers you have. I would use a range of reds, oranges and yellows with a few splashes of blue for something that is eye catching without being too obvious.

But these are all things you can learn by studying color theory and then you can figure out your own flower arrangements.

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