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Life Kit: Arrange your store-bought flowers like a florist

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Mother's Day is this weekend. If you are celebrating, you're a mom, a mom to be, a mother figure or maybe yourself, a beautiful bouquet goes a long way toward making the day a little brighter. And while it's great to support your local florist, you could let your own creativity blossom this year. Life Kit's Andee Tagle has tips for you on how to elevate that grocery store bouquet with a personal touch.

ANDEE TAGLE, BYLINE: Alexander Campbell, better known by his handle @acfloralstudio, has over a million followers on TikTok, and it's easy to understand why.

Hey. I have a hard question for you. What is your most favorite flower?

ALEXANDER CAMPBELL: I mean, my favorite flower changes all the time, if I'm perfectly honest with you, kind of I fall in love with a new flower every day.

TAGLE: Campbell's feed features stunning creations for every season and storyline. He's got a bouquet of black and white blooms inspired by Cruella de Vil, a rainbow arrangement for pride, another with spiky silver spray-painted leaves reminiscent of Wolverine for his X-Men series. When it comes to flowers, he's an equal opportunity florist.

CAMPBELL: I use hydrangeas a lot, and I really love carnations, which is a quite an unpopular opinion.

TAGLE: Why do carnations get such a bad rap?

CAMPBELL: I don't know. I mean, like I live in Spain, right? So in Spain, they're always associated with being like a very, very cheap flower. But I think that's so great.

TAGLE: There are no bad blooms, says Campbell. That's the first thing to remember when trying your hand at a homemade arrangement. Go for the flowers and colors that bring you the most joy. And then from there, Campbell has a few simple tips to transform that generic $10 grocery store bouquet into a better, prettier arrangement for mom - or anyone else, for that matter. First, freshness is key. Are your ends nice and green? Are your leaves still perky or starting to wilt? Pay close attention to the flowers themselves, too.

CAMPBELL: Give them a bit of a touch. Give them a bit of a squeeze. If they're nice and firm, that means that they're great. If you touch the flowers and they're quite soft, then they're not good.

TAGLE: Next, think about your presentation. A finished bouquet should have a variety of flowers and textures.

CAMPBELL: Because if you think they're all the same, they're all the same level or the same sort of size, you're going to create a very two-dimensional bouquet. And it always looks better if that's kind of movement and it's a bit more dynamic. So you can achieve that with different sized flowers, different colors flowers.

MARTIN: Or even by combining different ready-made bouquets. When you're on the hunt, keep these three elements in mind - filler like greenery.

CAMPBELL: Could be like a very cheap flower. Hydrangeas are a great filler flower because they take up a lot of space in an arrangement.

TAGLE: Then consider height and depth.

CAMPBELL: Like, have some flowers which are higher, some flowers which are lower, some which are coming out to the left, some which are going out to the right. Delphiniums, which are really tall, clematis, which are so beautiful. Spray roses are really nice as well.

TAGLE: And finally, flowers that have star power.

CAMPBELL: The really amazing ones, the ones that kind of most spoke to you at the supermarket when you found them or at your florists, and then put those in last kind of as a finishing touch.

TAGLE: Once you've made your picks, don't forget to cut all of your stems at a 45-degree angle.

CAMPBELL: So when that cut, no matter how you put the flowers in the vase, they're always going to be able to drink, so an extra layer of guarantee.

TAGLE: Then it's time to build and play. When your creation's complete, keep your bouquet lasting longer by removing any leaves below the waterline and changing out your water every day. Flower food is great too, of course. But the most important ingredient?

CAMPBELL: When you do it yourself, you put extra love, extra care, extra time into making that. And I think that's the key ingredient.

TAGLE: Be it for Mother's Day, wedding season or just because here's your reminder to stop, smell and then maybe arrange the roses. For NPR's Life Kit, I'm Andee Tagle.

MARTIN: For more tips and life hacks, go to npr.org/lifekit. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andee Tagle
Andee Tagle (she/her) is an associate producer and now-and-then host for NPR's Life Kit podcast.