How to Make Rose Bouquets

A bouquet of pink roses for Valentine's Day.

Roses are the classic floral selection to express love and friendship, and Valentine’s Day is a traditional holiday for giving a bouquet to a friend or loved one. It’s so popular of an idea that florists across the nation become swamped with work during the week of Valentine’s Day and, in return, they often crank up the prices for what is, at its essence, a simple bouquet to create. Instead of looking for the prefab option, why not put together a bouquet of roses yourself? The DIY version requires only a few supplies alongside a bit of creativity and patience.

Step 1 - Select Your Roses

A woman pruning a pink rose bush in her garden.

Of course, the first step in the process is to collect your roses. Choose all one color, such as the classic red, or mix it up with a variety of shades, ranging from white and pink to burgundy. A large, full-looking bouquet will require about two dozen roses. For a smaller bouquet, a dozen will do. You can also add baby’s breath, fern, or other accent flowers and greenery if you want. If you're picking your own roses, look for sturdy stems and flowers that are not completely open. Cut them at the proper length for your desired vase. If you cut them a few days early, leave a small amount of extra length for a quick trim on the day you gift the bouquet.

Step 2 - Clean up Your Roses

Trim off the lower leaves from all your roses, focusing on those that will be below water level in the vase. Also cut off any thorns for a smooth stem. You can use any variety of scissors, trimmers, or a knife that you prefer. At this point, ensure that all of your stems are the same length. If your flowers were not freshly cut, snip the ends off of the stem. The open cut will allow the flowers to drink water freely and help them last longer.

Step 3 - Tape Your Bouquet

A grouping of pink roses with scissors and twine to make a Valentine's Day bouquet.

Arrange the flowers the way you want, holding them firmly in the middle of the stems and adding one to three single stems or flower groupings as you work. Once they are arranged, use a rubber band or string to hold them in place. Then cover that section with florist’s tape.

Step 4 - Accessorize

The finished look of your bouquet is limited only by your creativity. For a classic look, simply wrap the stems with any variety of waxy paper or parchment paper. Maneuver the paper into the shape of a cone with the top surrounding the flowers. The back part of your cone head will provide a resting spot for your roses while the front will offer a display window. Pull the bottom portion of your cone tight and wrap a rubber band around it to hold it firmly against the stems. Use a small amount of tape to hold the paper together if necessary.

To add additional flowers such as the ubiquitous baby’s breath, simply trim your flowers to length and weave it into the design. Try not to overwhelm the simple elegance of the roses. Instead, focus on enhancing them with a touch of contrast. Make the baby’s breath shorter than the roses to offer filler and a backdrop to highlight the color of the flower.

Put the flowers into a vase for added support and a finished product. Placing large pebbles in the vase will help keep the flowers from shifting around. If you’re not using a vase, embellish the bouquet with a large ribbon tied around the paper cone, near the center of the stems.

Step 5 - Storage and Delivery

If your finished rose bouquet is for you, enjoy! If you’re giving it as a gift, keep it in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, until you're ready to deliver it. Make sure to secure the vase during transport, especially if you've already filled it with water. Frequently spray the flowers with a mist of water to keep them looking fresh.

Step 6 - An Alternative to Clear Vases

For hand-held bouquets or those in a container such as a bucket or basket, use florist’s foam and shorter stems. Soak the foam in water and place it into the container. Poke the rose stems into it, which will hold them in place.