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Tips for Arranging Summer Flowers

Summer is a great time to find affordable, beautiful garden flowers!  Many of you may already know that Behnke’s has beds of zinnias this summer…but the really good news is that they are making colorful bunches of cut zinnias that you can buy and enjoy arranging at home in your own vase!

Although I’m now too far away to buy Behnke’s zinnias, I found a Farmer’s Market in my area and was thrilled to see zinnias for sale.  I couldn’t resist buying them!  I should probably confess that I also bought beautiful green-eyed sunflowers and pale green hydrangeas.

I headed home with beautiful flowers in tow…and my next step was to get them into water to make sure that they would be fully hydrated before I arranged them in appropriate containers.  Remember, the best way to insure good hydration is to snip an inch or more from the bottom of the stem while both the stem and snippers are submerged under water.  You will need a plastic or glass container (never metal) and a pair of sharp snippers.  After snipping the stems, place the flowers into a glass or plastic vessel of water to hydrate for at least an hour.

hydrating-the-flowershydrating the flowers

So while my flowers are hydrating, I’ve been thinking about the decorative containers that I would like to arrange them in.  The zinnias and sunflowers could work together because of their truly “gardeny” character.  But after assessing where I will probably use them, I’ve decided that each flower variety should stand alone…all hydrangeas, all zinnias, and all sunflowers.  After all, each variety deserves to be admired for its own unique beauty.


The pale green hydrangeas are very compatible with the small (about 5” tall) rather rustic aqua container.  Step-by-step photos show the empty container; then the hydrangeas that were placed near the rim of the container, and the addition of wispy grasses.  I have not used any floral foam because the size of the hydrangeas allows them to rest on the rim of the container which supplies adequate support.  Notice how the grasses add dimension to the arrangement, especially on the right side.  The height of the grasses balances the visual weight of the “visually heavier” hydrangeas on the lower left side.


The zinnias in shades of orange and pink are very much at home in a green blown-glass vase.  The glass vase with its flared, ruffled edge and its smaller “waist” securely hold the zinnias and variegated liriope in place, with a little help from other small leafed foliage.


The arrangement of green-eyed sunflowers and wispy blue accent flowers in an earthenware pitcher is very much at home for summer picnics or in a casual kitchen setting.  Because the pitcher is opaque, any excess stem that has been cut from the sunflowers can be used to stabilize the heavier sunflowers.  Don’t be afraid to wedge them between the sunflowers stems if you need extra stability.

I hope that seeing step-by step photos of 3 different flower varieties and the container that I have chosen for each variety is helpful to you.  I have chosen to design these arrangements without floral foam to reinforce the idea that using natural stems as a support mechanism can also work very effectively.

by Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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