Tips From A Smithsonian Gardener for Creating a Beautiful Valentine’s Day Arrangement

Eight steps from the horticulturalist Melanie Pyle for a bouquet that will last long past the lover’s holiday

Feedloader (Clickability)

Hey Valentine, did your honey send you a romantic bundle of red and pink rose buds this morning? Or maybe a secret admirer sent you 12 fragrant beauties. Either way, nothing says love more than the classic Valentine's Day gift: the bouquet of roses.

We asked Melanie Pyle, a Smithsonian Gardens horticulturist for tips to create a table flower arrangement from a bouquet of one dozen roses.

Before you start arranging your bouquet into a vase, Melanie says that you'll need the right items. In a typical Valentine's Day bouquet there are a dozen roses, about 9 fern fronds (a fern leaf is called a frond), some decorative leaves (often "Salal" leaves are found in bouquets), baby's breath, and floral food.

In addition to the bouquet, Melanie says you'll need the following items:

A glass vase, preferably ten to eleven inches tall and five to six inches wide

Floral tape to be used to stabilize the stems within the vase. (Floral marbles can be added to the water to achieve the same result.)

Follow these eight steps from Melanie for a bouquet that will last long past Valentines Day

1. Fill the vase three-quarters full with warm water. Add a packet of floral food (usually provided with the bouquet) to extend the life of the flowers.

2. Run four pieces of floral tape across the top of the vase—two from each side, equal distance apart, in a crisscross pattern.

3. Place three of the fern fronds in the vase to a triangle. Add three more fronds in the spaces between the first three fronds and any remaining fronds can be placed within the second layer spaces.

4. The decorative leaves should be layered within the ferns in the same triangular pattern.

5. Prepare three of the roses by cutting the stem at the bottom with sharpened clippers or scissors, making sure to make each stem one and a half times the height of the vase. The roses should be placed in the center of the greens in a small triangle about three inches apart from one another.

6. The remaining roses should be cut about one inch shorter than the first three. Place five angling out from the center and forming a ring around the first three roses.

7. Take the last four roses and position them in a ring between the other two groups of roses. This should give you a nice, evenly spaced presentation.

8. The baby’s breath is now added to complete the arrangement. After giving each stem a fresh cut, place them in any obvious holes. Only three or four stems should be used.

And there you have it! A beautiful table arrangement for your Valentine's Day bouquet.

Melanie Pyle says her gardening mentors were her mother and grandmother who both had gardens filled with roses. Melanie's expertise here at the Smithsonian Institution has evolved into interior plant exhibits and floral design. She is involved with the Philadelphia Flower Show and over the past 10 years has participated as a judge, exhibitor and stager.

Get the latest on what's happening At the Smithsonian in your inbox.