How to create perfect floral arrangements

San Francisco floral designer shares secrets you can use at home

Flower shop easy style

Thomas J. Story

Tricks of the trade

With a name like Erin Rosenow, it’s no wonder she became a floral designter. Fortuitous name aside, we’re obsessed with Rosenow and her eponymous floral-design studio for the beautiful arrangements she makes using everyday objects such as old tomato jars as vases.

“I like quirky and vintage-inspired designs,” says Rosenow, who was co-owner of San Francisco flower shop Birch and a floral designer at Fiori before opening her own business. “I don’t think that flowers have to be so pretentious.” Her advice for beginners? “Be sure to use the freshest flowers you can find and practice, practice, practice!”

INFO Rosenow Floral (rosenow or 415/424-7437)

Flower shop easy style

Thomas J. Story

Keep it simple

You don’t need a fancy shop to make designer bouquets and arrangements. A sink, some counter space, and a drawer for tools will do nicely. Rosenow recommends devoting one or two shelves in a kitchen cabinet for storing extra vases, and having a green bin handy for composting clippings.

Find tools at floral-supply or craft stores (we like and redrock


Flower shop essential tools

Thomas J. Story

Your home floral-design studio

A checklist of essential tools
1. Floral tape
2. Rose stripper
3. twine (pictured: Bordeaux baker’s twine; $7 for 60 ft.;
4. Lighter (to heat-seal the cut stems of flowers with milky sap)
5. Swiss Army Knife
6. Wire cutters
7. Pruning shears 
8. Rubber bands
9. 22-gauge paddle wire
10. Sponge
11. Florist scissors

Flower shop simplicity multiplied

Thomas J. Story

Simplicity multiplied

“I like to have multiple bud vases on hand,” says Rosenow, who snapped up these vintage bottles at a gift shop (similar diffuser bottles $3 each at

“If I need more of a punch with single flowers, I’ll use three of the same bud vases in a row.”

Flower shop vases

Thomas J. Story

Think outside the vase

“I like any type of vintage vessel,” says Rosenow, whose vases include flea-market finds like old trophies and milk glass.

“It makes your flowers feel so much more personal if they’re sitting in one of your great-grandmother’s old water pitchers.”

Flower shop support system

Thomas J. Story

Support system

 “It’s helpful to make a grid when you are using a vase that has a wide mouth,” says Rosenow.

“You can use either clear cellophane or floral tape to support top-heavy flowers. Just cut the stems and insert in grid openings.”

A cork coaster

Thomas J. Story

Make a cork coaster

Prevent water rings and spills. “Cork tiles from a hardware or craft store make great coasters for underneath vases,” says Rosenow. “Place the vase on top of the cork, trace around the vase bottom, and cut to size.”

Attach with small pieces of double-stick foam mounting tape.

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