April showers bring May flowers. You know what else brings flowers? Graduations and Mother’s Day celebrations. This weekend, my family and I are celebrating both. After two years, I’m happy to say I have graduated with my master’s degree in communication from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. My mom is here to help celebrate, and we’ll continue the merriment for Mother’s Day.

If you’re like me, you keep flowers in the bouquet as long as you can. Yes, I must admit that I am not known for my flower-arranging skills. Luckily, I’ve been learning some quick tricks of the trade and getting better at it. If the flowers keep coming, I’ll get the practice I need. (Hint. Hint.) Until then, I’ll stick to these tips for my favorite flora.

Before starting, choose your desired vase and add room-temperature water followed by cut-flower food. Then, gently hold your flowers next to the vase to discern how much trimming they’ll need. Trim at least 1 inch from the stems at a 45-degree angle using a utility knife, and remove any leaves that will fall below the water line. The stems absorb water better when cut.


For branches, use a strong cutter such as a lopper to cut a slit or two at the base of each stem. This type of cut will allow for the most water absorption. Then, trim twigs that will fall below the water line.

Place each stem into the vase, one by one. Start with the tallest, largest flowers at the center, and work your way around. Move on to the next largest and so on, filling in with smaller flowers as you go.

Place them at differing angles to achieve the best balance and to show off each flower’s individual shape. Save leafy stems to fill in gaps at the end.

Position the vase away from direct sunlight and heat. Every two to three days, re-cut the stems and freshen the water. Add cut-flower food as well. When flowers die, cut them as close to the main stem as possible. To help prolong the blooms in flowers such as lilies, remove the pollen-coated parts of the stamen at the base. This will help the blossoms to last longer.

Flower arranging is like cooking. There are guidelines that typically work, but in the end, you must rely on your own taste and preference for the best possible result. A great arrangement can add dimension and even serve as a focal point in your home.