Using Herbs As Greenery For Flower Arranging -Tips, Tricks, and Fragrant Ideas

If you’re wandering back from your cutting garden with arms full of blooms, don’t forget to make a pit stop at your herb patch! As a floral designer with over a decade of experience, I’ve discovered that herbs are the secret ingredient that can take your flower arrangements from lovely to absolutely charming!

In this post, “Using Herbs as Greenery for Flower Arranging – Tips, Tricks, and Fragrant Ideas,” we’ll explore everything you need to know about incorporating herbs into your floral designs. You’ll learn which herbs work best, how to prepare them for arranging, and all the wonderful ways they can elevate your bouquets. Let’s dive in!

placing a lemon balm stem in a vase of hydrangea.

Why Add Herbs to Flower Arrangements?

As someone who’s created countless bouquets over the years, I can tell you that herbs bring something truly special to the table:

  • They add unique textures and shapes
  • Introduce delightful fragrances
  • Offer a fresh, garden-inspired look
  • Bring a personal touch from your own backyard

I remember the first time I snipped some rosemary to fill out a rose bouquet – the combination of scents was divine, and the silvery-green sprigs added such interesting visual depth. From that moment on, I was hooked on using herbs in my floral designs!

A beautiful vase of blue hydrangea with lemon balm stems.

Did you know that using herbs in flower arrangements is a tradition that dates back centuries? It’s true! In fact, during the Victorian era, it was all the rage to include herbs and flowers in bouquets as a way of sending secret messages!

Suitable Herbs for Flower Arranging

Let’s talk about the stars of the show – the herbs that’ll take your arrangements from “Oh, that’s nice” to “Wow, where did you learn to do that?!” Trust me, after years of experimenting, I’ve got the inside scoop on which herbs really shine in a bouquet.

Perennial Herbs:

  1. Rosemary: An versatile herb with long, fragrant sprigs that add elegance and a piney scent to arrangements.
  2. Sage: Known for its soft, silvery leaves, sage adds interesting texture to bouquets, particularly in fall arrangements.
  3. Thyme: Despite its small size, thyme’s tiny leaves on wiry stems contribute a delicate, airy touch to floral designs.
  4. Lavender: With its purple spikes and distinctive scent, lavender is excellent for adding a romantic element to bouquets.
  5. Mint: A versatile herb with bright green leaves and a refreshing scent, mint adds a lively, aromatic touch to bouquets and contributes a meadow-like quality to arrangements.

Annual Herbs:

  1. Basil: Basil’s lush green leaves add freshness to summer arrangements. Consider using purple basil for an interesting color variation.
  2. Dill: The feathery fronds of dill are excellent for adding texture and movement to bouquets, particularly in wildflower arrangements.
  3. Cilantro: Before flowering, cilantro’s lacy leaves make a good filler in arrangements. Be aware of its strong scent when combining with other flowers.

Unique Options

  1. Lemon Balm: Brings bright green, heart-shaped leaves and a fresh, citrusy scent to floral designs, adding both visual interest and fragrance.
  2. Mountain Mint: A hardy native plant with silvery-green leaves and small flowers that contribute a meadow-like quality to bouquets.
  3. Bee Balm: Known for its spiky flowers in red, pink, or purple, bee balm creates a striking visual impact in arrangements.
  4. Purple Basil: Offers deep purple leaves that provide rich color contrast in arrangements, particularly effective in summer bouquets.

Remember, half the fun is in experimenting. So don’t be afraid to mix and match these herbs in your next arrangement.

soft pink hydrangea, roses, tulips with sage.

Preparing Herbs for Flower Arranging

Best time to harvest: For optimal freshness, harvest your herbs early in the morning after the dew has dried, or in the late evening. These times are when the herbs’ essential oils are most concentrated, giving you the best fragrance and flavor.

Proper cutting techniques

  1. Using clean, sharp tools: Always use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to avoid damaging the plants.
  2. Cutting at an angle: Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle to increase the surface area for water uptake.

Removing lower leaves: Strip off the lower leaves from the stems. This prevents leaves from sitting in water, which can lead to bacterial growth and shortened vase life.

Hardening off process:

  1. Placing in cool water: Immediately after cutting, place the stems in cool water.
  2. Storing in a cool place: Keep your freshly cut herbs in a cool, dark place for a few hours or overnight. This allows them to take up water and become more rigid, increasing their longevity in arrangements.

Special considerations for woody stems: For herbs with woody stems like rosemary or lavender, consider making a vertical cut up the stem about 1-2 inches. This increases the surface area for water uptake. You can also gently crush the ends of woody stems to aid water absorption.

Remember, proper preparation is key to ensuring your herbs look fresh and vibrant in your floral arrangements.

me cutting the stem of lemon balm.

Incorporating Herbs into Floral Designs-Tips and Techniques

As fillers and accents: Herbs make excellent fillers and accents in floral designs. Use them to add texture, depth, and interest to your arrangements. Soft, billowy herbs like dill or fennel can create a delicate backdrop, while more structured herbs like rosemary or lavender can provide interesting vertical elements.

Creating a color palette with herbs and flowers: Consider the colors of your herbs when planning your arrangement. The silver-green of sage can complement purple flowers beautifully, while the deep green of basil can provide a striking contrast to bright summer blooms. Don’t forget about colorful herbs like purple basil or bronze fennel to add unexpected hues.

Balancing scents in the arrangement: Be mindful of the fragrances you’re combining. While herbs can add wonderful scents to your bouquet, you don’t want them to overpower the flowers. Pair strongly scented herbs with equally fragrant flowers, or use them sparingly with more delicate blooms.

Strategically placing herbs for visibility: Place your herbs thoughtfully throughout the arrangement. Tuck sprigs of thyme or mint near the edges where they can cascade over the vase. Position taller herbs like dill or fennel towards the back of the arrangement for height and depth.

Combining herbs with focal flowers and filler flowers: Use herbs to complement your focal flowers and traditional fillers. They can help to draw the eye to your showpiece blooms while adding their own unique charm. For example, surround a large peony with sprigs of lavender, or pair sunflowers with dill for a garden-fresh look.

herbs with fresh Flowers in vases.

4. Tips for Long-Lasting Arrangements

  1. Proper water care: Change the water in your vase every other day to keep it fresh and free from bacteria. Use cool water, as warm water can cause herbs to wilt faster. When you change the water, re-cut the stems at an angle to improve water uptake.
  2. Using flower food: While commercial flower food can benefit your blooms, be cautious with herbs. Some herbs may be sensitive to these products. If you choose to use flower food, opt for a natural or organic variety and use it sparingly.
  3. Avoiding direct sunlight: Keep your herbal arrangements out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. Bright, indirect light is best for maintaining the freshness of both herbs and flowers. This helps prevent wilting and extends the life of your arrangement.
  4. Refrigeration considerations for herbs: Unlike many cut flowers, most herbs don’t respond well to refrigeration. They can suffer cold damage, leading to wilting or discoloration. If you need to store your arrangement overnight, place it in a cool room rather than the refrigerator. For mixed arrangements, consider adding the herbs just before display if the flowers require refrigeration.

Remember, different herbs have varying vase lives. Woody herbs like rosemary and lavender tend to last longer, while soft herbs like basil and cilantro may need to be replaced more frequently in long-lasting arrangements.

Seasonal Considerations

Early spring herbs and flowers: In early spring, pair delicate herbs like chives and parsley with spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils. Mint, which starts growing early, can add a fresh touch to arrangements with hellebores or early blooming camellias.

Late spring and summer combinations: As the season progresses, incorporate basil, dill, and cilantro into bouquets with summer flowers like peonies, zinnias, dahlias, and hydrangea. Lavender and rosemary pair beautifully with roses and peonies for a fragrant, romantic arrangement.

Autumn arrangements with herbs: For fall, sage and thyme complement the rich colors of chrysanthemums and asters. Bronze fennel adds height and texture to arrangements featuring dahlias and late-blooming sunflowers. Don’t forget about flowering herbs like bee balm, which can add unique shapes to your autumn bouquets.

Extended harvest techniques for year-round use: To ensure a year-round supply of herbs for your arrangements:

  1. Plant herbs in succession throughout the growing season.
  2. Grow cold-hardy herbs like rosemary and sage in protected areas for winter use.
  3. Consider growing some herbs indoors, especially tender varieties like basil.
  4. Learn to dry herbs properly for use in winter arrangements when fresh options are limited.
  5. Experiment with forcing branches of woody herbs like rosemary indoors during winter months.

By planning your herb garden with all seasons in mind, you can enjoy the beauty and fragrance of herbs in your floral designs throughout the year.

lemon balm and other herbs in a raised bed.

Beyond the Vase: Unique Uses for Herbs in Floral Design

Edible flower and herb combinations: Create stunning and functional arrangements by combining edible flowers with culinary herbs. Nasturtiums pair well with basil, while pansies complement the delicate flowers of chives or cilantro. These arrangements can double as centerpieces and garnishes for special events or dinner parties. Always ensure that all components are pesticide-free and safe for consumption.

Bridal bouquets with herbs: Incorporating herbs into bridal bouquets adds a personal touch and delightful fragrance. Lavender and rosemary are popular choices for their symbolic meanings of love and remembrance. Soft herbs like mint or lemon balm can provide a fresh, green backdrop for delicate flowers. For a rustic or bohemian look, consider using flowering herbs like thyme or oregano.

Corsages and boutonnieres: Herbs can add a unique touch to corsages and boutonnieres. Small sprigs of rosemary, thyme, or lavender can provide interesting texture and a subtle fragrance. For a more dramatic look, consider using flowering herbs like oregano or sage blossoms. These herb-enhanced accessories are perfect for weddings, proms, or any special occasion.

Head wreaths: Create enchanting head wreaths using a combination of herbs and flowers. Soft, pliable herbs like lemon balm or mint make excellent bases, while sturdier herbs like rosemary or lavender can add structure. Incorporate small flowers or herb blossoms for pops of color. These wreaths are lovely for outdoor weddings, festivals, or photo shoots.

A floral head wreath on my chocolate lab.

Sourcing Herbs for Arranging

Growing your own cutting garden: Starting your own herb garden is an excellent way to ensure a steady supply of fresh herbs for your arrangements. Choose a sunny spot in your yard or use containers on a balcony or patio. Plant a variety of herbs with different textures and fragrances. Consider including both perennial herbs like sage and thyme, and annual herbs like basil and dill. Regularly harvesting your herbs will encourage bushier growth and provide you with a continuous supply for your floral designs.

Purchasing from farmer’s markets or flower farmers: Local farmer’s markets and flower farmers are great sources for fresh, locally grown herbs. These herbs are often cut more recently than those found in grocery stores, ensuring better quality and longevity in your arrangements. Building relationships with local growers can also give you access to unique or heirloom varieties of herbs that aren’t commonly available elsewhere.

Grocery store options: While not always ideal, grocery stores can be a convenient source for herbs, especially in off-seasons or for last-minute arrangements. Look for herbs in the produce section, often sold in small bunches or pots. Potted herbs can be particularly useful as they stay fresh longer and can be planted in your garden later. When selecting herbs from grocery stores, check for freshness by looking at the leaves’ color and firmness, and avoid any that show signs of wilting or discoloration.

Remember, regardless of your source, always handle herbs gently and keep them in water until you’re ready to use them in your arrangements.

bundles of herbs bought from a farmers market.

Frequently Asked Questions about Using Herbs as Greenery for Arrangements

Can I use herbs in fresh-cut flower bouquets?

Absolutely! Herbs make excellent additions to fresh-cut flower bouquets. They add unique textures, fragrances, and a garden-fresh look. Just be sure to harvest your herbs with long stems and condition them properly before arranging them with your flowers.

Is floral foam suitable for arrangements with herbs?

While floral foam can be used with herbs, it’s not always necessary or ideal. Many herbs have delicate stems that can be easily damaged by foam. Instead, consider using a vase with fresh water or alternative methods like chicken wire or a flower frog for support.

How long should the stems be when using herbs in arrangements?

For most arrangements, aim for herb stems that are at least 6-8 inches long. These “long stems” allow for flexibility in design and proper hydration. When harvesting, cut the stems a bit longer than needed so you can trim them to the perfect length when creating your arrangement. Consider using shorter stem for bridal bouquets, corsages, wreaths or fresh candle rings.

hydrangea with lemon balm.

Incorporating herbs into your flower arrangements is a wonderful way to elevate your bouquets. Whether you’re harvesting from your own garden in the early morning or selecting your favorite varieties from a flower farmer, herbs make a great addition to any arrangement. Remember, the best part of using herbs in cut flower arrangements is the personal touch they bring – so don’t be afraid to experiment with your favorite culinary herbs and create something truly unique on your kitchen counter or table.

Happy arranging!

my signature which is a drawing of me sitting.

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