Flower of the Week
A Dozen Roses

How to arrange a dozen roses.

If you were reading my Tweets last week you heard that I got a dozen hot pink roses.  Just for bein’ cute.  ‘Cause I’m cute.  When I’m not on a rampage.  Truthfully I’m not cute very often.  At least my rampages are entertaining.  They usually involve a power tool, some sort of adhesive and maybe a frog.

Arranging roses used to elicit a fairly good rampage from me.  But not anymore.  Because now I take drugs for those rampages.  High quality ones at that.   O.K.  I don’t really take drugs.  But if I did they’d be high quality ones that make household tasks easier.

As far as flowers go, roses are considered to be the cream of the crop.  Personally,  I think they must have a really good PR agency because in truth … they’re difficult to arrange.

You need a startlingly large amount of roses to fill up any sort of conventional vase.  They inevitably end up just sort of leaning around the outside of the vase with nothing in the centre.  Unless you choose to use the ridiculous, single stem of baby’s breath that comes with the roses.  In which case you end up with a circle of roses around the circumference of the vase with a teensy piece of baby’s breath sadly leaning on one of the roses like a drunken friend professing their love for you after an all nighter.

$9 West Elm vase ... perfect for a dozen roses


Low, Gold Ethan Allen Vase


But it doesn’t need to be this way.  The trick to roses is definitely finding the right vase.  Roses either need a vase with a very small neck to keep them from flopping or you need to cut the stems down so the heads are almost level with the opening of the vase so you just get a mound of flower heads the same height as the vessel.  A low vase usually works best for this.

The biggest mistake I used to make when arranging roses was NOT cutting the stems enough.  The same gene that makes us afraid to hammer nails into our walls,  has been scientifically proven to be the same gene that instils terror when we attempt to chop off a rose stem.  I think.

So for your viewing pleasure … how to arrange a dozen roses.



1 dozen roses

1 low vase (can be bowl shaped like mine, or square or round)

1 or 2 leaves from the garden (I bought 2 mini Monstera leaves)

Bunch your roses together in a roundish mound and then secure them with an elastic band a couple of inches below the flower heads.    Not too tight, not too loose.  Just enough so they keep their shape without flopping.

Cut the stems all the same length so that when you put them in the vase the mound is right at the top of the vase.  Just cut the stems a bit, put them in the vase and gauge how much more you have to cut them.  Keep doing this until the stem length is right.


I've tipped my arrangement a bit so it isn't perfectly straight up and down.

I would MUCH prefer this arrangement in the gold Ethan Allen Vase but I don’t own one. And I’m too cheap to spend the $189 to buy one. If you have one, and you’re sick of it … lemme know.


‘Cause it would look astoundingly good on my end table here.

The truth of the matter is … if I had been buying roses for myself I wouldn’t have bought hot pink. In fact I probably would have scowled at them a little as I reached for the pure white ones. Like I always do. When it comes to flowers I always pick white. I shouldn’t.  Something just compels me to.

I’d make a bet it has something to do with that gene ….


  1. Shannon says:

    Atta girl Karen.

    You make me kind of ashamed your floral posts are always like 95% better than mine.

    I usually use my roses in a shallow white square ceramic bowl, fill it with floral foam & shove about 2 dozen yellow or green roses. Modern & you can be cheap & buy the shortest stems available saving $$$

    • Karen says:

      You’re a big, stupid liar. But thanks. 🙂 I wish I had access to the kindda flowers you do. What with being a floral designer. In Australia. 🙁

  2. Zina says:

    Totally with you on the white. Right now, my favorite is white alstromeria, a huge big bunch of them in a tallish vase. I can pretend that it’s not just white – there’s always a bit of color.

    And I love callas because they go for weeks. Only trouble is that they go for so long that at the end, they’re too short for every vase I own that will accommodate such big stems.

    Right now I have 10 calla lilies plunked into entertainingly shaped green beer bottles, because I don’t have a vase for them, strung out along the mantel.

    Btw, I have a vase of carnations inspired by your carnation post on the hall table upstairs. My guests are much impressed. Well, she is, neither he nor the kids care about flowers very much, but she definitely is impressed.

  3. sinead says:

    Well said..that darn gene hey! Love the photos.

  4. Anita says:

    The one flower I hate to recieve, roses, I know sounds selfish and spoiled. When I do get the long stem variety, I hack the stems down to about 3 inches and do the same as you did. (My boyfriend finally learned not to waste his money on them.)
    Put them in a small low vase, get a few hosta leaves and instantly looks so much better then the baby’s breath and crappy fern filler that comes with it.

  5. sharman says:

    not only do your flowers look great but that end table is to die for! did you customize that yourself? If so, please share your brilliant expertise with us again! thanks for a GREAT website! I look forward to it every day.

  6. DGB says:

    I am actually more interested in that end table. Please let us know how you did that.

  7. Pam'a says:

    I’m guessing she found some ghastly side table on the side of the road, cut a bunch of small branches into little cross-sections, and glued them on there. She may have had to make a trip to the Dollar Store for something–Glue or some shellacky spray to shine the thing up.

    She maybe spent $2, and now it’s DesignSponge material.

    As usual.

    But at least she has a scary basement.

    • Karen says:

      Hahahaha. Oh that’s funny. I was in the middle of figuring out how to make this table, when I found it at Homesense. It’s a copy of a very expensive french furniture design company’s piece. So .. just for the fun of it, I may just try to create one out of trash. Just to see if I can do it. And then share with you. The trick will be curing the wood for the endcuts. I’ll let you know …

  8. terry clarkson farrell says:

    Lovely when they are bunched together. I pull the heads off when they’re nearly completely dead and toss them in a deep small basket after – almost 30 yrs of married life its pretty full.I use them for simmering potourri or toss into fire place for a puff of scent and put in baskets to scent rooms when companies coming. Roses growning are lovely and I love the scent but you are right they just lack something in a vase.

  9. Jeanenne says:

    It just so happens that today is my birthday and my husband brought me, you guessed it, a dozen roses! Points for him! And for you for perfect timing on this post. I’m going to pretend you did it just my bday. Thanks, Karen! You shouldn’t have…

  10. Anemone says:

    Hey Karen…the side table is gorgeous…the roses are gorgeous…

    U scared me for a moment with that maybe a frog thing…

  11. Melissa says:

    ***Lovely*** I love your ideas….you are very smart.

    I do not know if you have a Costco where you live, but red roses are $15 for a doz. The night before Valentine’s Day.

    I looked at my hubby when I saw them, I thanked him, and I said….”Why did you buy them? Aren’t they really expensive?” He got a corny smile and said “YEP! $15 at Costco” Made me happy 😀

    We have had a running joke about red roses for 10 years now….He knows not to buy them when they are crazy expensive.

    • Karen says:

      Melissa – Yes! I do have a Costco around me! I love Costco and just Twittered/Facebooked about how great their Kirkland brand coffee beans are. 🙂 Great deal on the roses! Thanks for the heads up. ~ karen

  12. Buffy Hunt says:

    Cosco’s sells 2 doz for $15. Thats what we got. I go to Walmart and to Publix. Once in a while Walmart’s prices are $10 or lower. Publix is $11 or more.

    Mom is 83 years old and does an incredible job of arranging flowers. She does spectacular arrangements for Alter Guild at church.

    Anyway, she bought a couple of beautiful crystal rose bowls at church bazar. They are waterford, and got them for (okay wait, this is true) $25.00. This is a 5″ in diameter. Gorgeous.

    I got some rose bowls from Ebay, one tiny one, and one red ruby cut glass.

    They are wonderful. I put little glass things (don’t know what they are called), and stuff the roses in those and they stay up really well.

    The most beautiful is the multi colored roses, just so wonderful.

    These last about a week. So every Saturday when we go to grocery, we buy one to two doz.

    There is nothing better, and well worth the price of $20 a week.


    • Karen says:

      Buffy – Agreed! Nothing gives a gal a boost like a bunch of roses. And that thing? It’s called a frog. 🙂 Which of course makes no sense at all. – karen

  13. Trinity says:

    That rubber band is way too difficult to get up where you need it without shredding your hands.
    I use a zip tie. You’re welcome.

  14. angie says:

    Okay, so as I was reading through this post I mis-read the word gene as genie making the sentence
    “The same genie that makes us afraid to hammer nails into our walls, has been scientifically proven to be the same genie that instils terror when we attempt to chop off a rose stem.” Um, after reading your past blog posts for 2 days straight, I didn’t even consider that I was reading the word wrong…for some reason you talking about a genie makes perfect sense to me. So I got to laugh twice at this post, once for my mis-read and then once for the real sentence. Thanks for all the tips and recipes, I think your blog is amazing.

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