How to Make an Orchid Lei

Hawaiian leis are not only popular on the islands, but orchid leis have become quite common and popular on the mainland as well, especially at graduations and other special occasions.  However, they can be quite expensive. Learn how to save money and make your own at home with materials that can be purchased at most craft stores.  

What You Will Need

  • Dendrobium Orchids are the most popular for making Hawaiian leis because of their beautiful purple color and accessibility.  You will need between 40 – 60 flowers depending on the length of the lei you wish to create.  
  • You will also need at least six feet of string.  It can be a heavy-duty white, sewing thread or even fishing line.  Some even prefer to use dental floss because of its strength.  
  • Traditional sewing needles will not work for making leis because they are too brittle and much too short.  A crochet needle will work nicely, or six-inch lei needles are actually available for purchase.  They are not only sturdy for this kind of task but have a larger needle eye that allows varying gauges of string and line to be threaded properly.  

Now that you are ready, it is time to string your flowers.

Take your six feet of string, regardless of material, and double it right in the middle.  Thread the needle and bring it to the exact middle of the string and then tie it off at the other end.  A three-foot lei is usually the most common length and will insure that you will not run out of flowers during the process.  

Carefully gather the orchid flowers, their stems removed.  With your palm, gently take a petal in one hand and use the needle and thread to puncture it from the topside of the flower.  Make sure to keep the needle and thread far enough away from the center of the flower but still close enough to the stem so that it will be secure and the flower will not fall off on the strand.  

Continue to add one flower at a time, being careful not to bruise the other flowers that have already been added.  Once you have either used up the entirety of your orchid flowers or have reached a point where there is only a few inches left in the string, it is time to stop and tie everything off.  If there are any loose strings after you have completed, cut them off with household scissors.  

Tips for Keeping it Fresh

Once orchid flowers have been cut from their stems, it is important to use them right away because they have a relatively short lifespan.  Usually, they look the best the day that they were created, or the next day after.  When they have been completed, a slight mist to the flower petals will insure that they do not wilt right away or change in color.  If they are not used within the next few days, they will deteriorate and lose their beauty.