Making Flower Arranging Easy.

Have an armload of dahlias or other large flowers? Use these tricks to turn them into a pretty great flower arrangement no matter how florally unskilled you think you are.

If you reallyyyyy want to make your flower arranging easy click here to skip to the bottom of this post and just buy a dinosaur vase. 

Arranging flowers (and photographing them) is one of those things that seems pretty simple. You put some stems in a vase. Maybe jiggle them around a bit. Nope. They’re just standing there. They don’t look right. Shift them around, cut the stems, fan them around – WHY DON’T THEY LOOK RIGHT? 

Here are the main reasons:

  1. You’ve used too big of a vase.
  2. You don’t have enough filler.
  3. You’re not using flowers, you’re using sweatpants.

No matter what you do to them, sweatpants will never look good in a vase.

As for the other two reasons … that’s probably what’s killing you.

The arrangement I’ve done here isn’t going to win you any awards at a highfalutin flower arranging competition, but it might get you third at the county fair.

And that’s better than the 10th place you’d probably get without this lesson.

Who’s revved up and ready to get started??! 🤣


A couple of notes:

Filler is your friend even if you don’t get it from your dermatologist’s office. 

Whether it’s climbing hydrangea branches (like you see here), hosta leaves or other leafy branches you’re going to need filler. It makes your flower colours stand out and it … well … it fills in spaces so you can get away with using less flowers.


Having only a few types of flowers will make your job a lot easier. There are fewer decisions to make and it’s just a simpler process when you’re only dealing with 1-3 types of blooms. 

It’s like the difference between decorating a room in one style and decorating it with a variety of pieces from different periods and styles.  One takes more skill and knowledge.



Here’s how to do it:

Making Flower Arranging Easy.

Making Flower Arranging Easy.

Yield: 1 large floral arrangement
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This is an easy flower arrangement for anyone who wants a big impactful arrangement but doesn't have a lot of big flower arranging skills.


  • 7 dinner plate dahlia stems.
  • 7-8 ball dahlia stems
  • 3 amaranth stems
  • 5 leafy branches (I used climbing hydrangea)
  • low vessel
  • chicken wire


  1. Form a big piece of chicken wire into a ball and wedge it into your vessel.
  2. Strip the lower leaves off of all of your stems.
  3. Line the outside of your vessel with your leafy branches. Don't worry about making it symmetrical. It should be balanced, but each side doesn't need to look exactly the same.
  4. Start placing your dinnerplate dahlias. The chicken wire will do a really good job of holding them into place and the leafy branches will give them support as well. Follow the shape of your vase and don't put all of them sticking up right. Let them flow upwards and out to the side.
  5. Add your ball dahlias following the lines of your dinnerplate dahlias.
  6. If you have Amaranth add those in too.
  7. Step back and take a look. If you have anything that looks like a huge void, add another bunch of leafy branches.


The General goal:

Remember this is a long and low arrangement as opposed to high and mighty. Remind yourself of that as you're placing your flowers.

Flower Substitutions

Don't have these particular flowers? No problem. You can substitute with these:

Dinnerplate Dahlia - substitute with peonies in the spring, hydrangeas in the summer and sunflowers in the fall.

Ball Dahlia - substitute with mums

Amaranth - substitute with anything that drapes downwards

This is a real flower arrangement for real people who have really no idea how to arrange flowers.  There are no wild curly branches sticking out of it, no whimsical rare orchids, or a million colours to balance.

But it is impressive considering there’s less than 20 flowers in it.

If you aren’t feeling all that skilled then JUST use dinnerplate dahlias and greenery.  In fact if you’d really just like to get your confidence up, only use one type of flower with greenery in any arrangement.

It’s really difficult to screw up an arrangement with one type of flower. A mass of one type of flower always looks great.

copper cup filled with Cockscomb. silver pitcher with Hot Biscuits Amaranth (and a couple of Cornel Bronze dahlias)

Small jug of sweet peas massed together.

You want this vase don’t you? Even though you’re not a 12 year old boy, you want it.  

You can get this “Plantasaurus” here on Amazon. I bought mine this summer and have LOVED every second of it.

Update: The plantasaurus has 3 small  holes in the bottom of it that aren’t glazed from the pouring process.  I filled these each of these holes with a blob of silicone to make it watertight. 

If you like the big arrangement with just the dahlias? Leave it like that!  You’ll probably need to add a few more dahlias and you won’t win the county fair prize.  But you’ll still have a nice flower arrangement and access to cotton candy so basically an award winning day.

Have a good weekend!


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Making Flower Arranging Easy.


  1. Ann Visco says:

    I love flowers, I grow flowers BUT I have a cat that eats flowers. Any kind, especially ones that are toxic to him. It took him a month to eat a giant Noston ferm. Not a flower but it was the middle of winter. I have to leave them on the plants and look at pictures of your arrangements.

  2. Pam'a says:

    Another hint? NEVER let your flowers spend a second more out of water than absolutely necessary. Pick them, plunk them into any container full of water, and recut each stem when you figure out where to use it. Cut them on a slant. With woody stems, mash them open a little — all in the name of uptake. Certain flowers like anemones, poppies, and a few others (usually with milky sap) need to have their stems sealed by holding them over a flame briefly.

    I’m not touching the aspirin vs. penny vs. 7-Up controversy, however. Heh.

  3. Emily says:

    Thank you so much Karen! I’m great at growing flowers and rubbish at arranging them. Crumpled up chicken wire — we’ve got that, lots of filler, check! Dinosaur vase, don’t have one of those…yet. It’s awesome! Maybe now when I am having folks over for dinner I can spend more time doing something other than frantically running around trying to make the flowers look presentable.

  4. Elaine says:

    I swear I was a florist in a previous life as I simply adore flower arranging! I find it instantly gratifying and so calming; I just zone out. I have some floral “frogs” and glass inserts (for holding stems) but I much prefer your idea of chicken wire, Karen! I wonder where I could buy a piece?

    I meant to ask a question the other day when you showed Cosmos in your cutting garden. I live in a condo (corner unit) that faces north and north/east. I get sun until around 2:00. I’d love to plant Cosmos seeds next year. (I’d start them inside first.) Would they thrive on my balcony without hot afternoon sun, Karen? Thanks, in advance, for your opinion!

  5. linda in illinois says:

    love it. i collect flower frogs and arrange my flowers in them inside a cup or vase or item like your planatsaurus which i adore.. i have flower frogs that are birds, dolphins, etc. all kinds. i love them. Thank you for the lesson. you are the best

  6. Vikki says:

    My favorite is the arrangement in the silver pitcher. Beautiful!! Oh, and the sweet peas…how can you go wrong with sweet peas?

  7. Grammy says:

    Beautiful. I don’t know how many years I failed at arranging my home-grown flowers until I figured out the need for extra greenery. Luckily, there is no shortage of all sorts of shrubbery and small trees around my house, so I always have sprigs of something that are fresh and lovely to snip and stick in a vase. Also, I’d trade pretty much anything I have to be able to grow dinnerplate dahlias like yours. Maybe I’ll try again sometime.

    But the chicken wire! That’s the special Karen-in-Canada genius that I’ve come to expect from you. I have used any number of things throughout the years to anchor the stems, but never thought of that. I’m going out to the tool shed right now to find that little roll I had leftover from some project or other.

  8. Teresa says:

    My favorite part is “roll bunch of chicken wire into a ball” because, if you are Karen, of course you can just go grab a bunch of chicken wire from the yard, shed, or basement. And now I’m kicking myself for finally taking those errant pieces of chicken wire I had used for something or other to the dump.

  9. Jane says:

    Dino vase, here I come! Wait, what am I saying? I collect frogs!

  10. Cathy Reeves says:

    I’ve decided that everything in Arizona is spikey, prickly, and poisonous if not venomous.
    I’ll have to make do with grocery store bouquets or invest in some good quality faux.
    And I’m alright with that. You’re directions are spot on regardless and the photos are so stunning you should make them available for framing. That way I won’t get nailed for stealing your property ifyougetmydrift.

    • Karen says:

      As long as you aren’t going to sell them and make a million dollars which you then use to fuel the drug epidemic, I’m O.k. with you stealing them. ~ karen!

  11. Bonnie Gutierrez says:

    Aww, the little cutey tutey dino!

  12. Karen. How did we get from building stuff and fixing stuff and raising chickens to arranging flowers?

  13. LOIS M BARON says:

    I cannot express how excited I am that I have a set of copper measuring cups that look like the copper “jugs” you have the sweet peas in. I may swoon at the thought that we might own the same things! Also, every time you wrote “dinnerplate dahlias,” I reaaaalllly wanted to see an arrangements with dinnerplates. Those flowers are gorgeous. But step 1 in any attempt I make at flower arranging right now would have to be “clear off horizontal space,” so I’ll just enjoy your photos.

  14. The plantasaurus is awesome. It reminded me that I have several vintage glazed “planters” in the shed shaped like animals. Like little jadeite green dogs and such. I need to dust them off and do these with them. They always looked kinda dumb with plants growing in them – maybe they were actually intended as vases? Hmm. The world can be so confusing.

  15. Markus says:

    Yes, indeed.
    Always Miss Karen
    You’ve built such beautiful back drops and settings, the flowers, the beautiful things.
    I admire your passion ever so discretely 😌
    Hooked on you ever since you leveled the floor in the kitchen!

  16. Ella says:

    Beautiful! Karen, could you puhleeeze help those of us with only balconies or teensy gardens plant enough flowers so we too can have cutting gardens? I have a 500 sq ft terrace that gets blazing sun for most of the day….I’d love to plant something I can actually harvest and enjoy rather than just using the typical bacopa/geranium pots. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ella! You can do all of this! Just use large rubbermaid tubs with holes in the bottom. If you’re worried that’ll be ugly you can surround them with wood frames or planters. Dahlias tubers do great in pots as long as you use a good amount of compost so they have nutrients and don’t forget to water them. Keep in mind they can get big, lol. Honestly, everything I’ve shown here can be grown in pots/buckets/bins or planters. :) ~ karen!

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