How to make a dramatic arrangement with branches


No flowers needed for this stunning arrangement of pretty branches and grasses. This is the kind of piece you'll put in an entry way or on a buffet table, and it will last for several weeks with just a little care. Your architect is floral and interior designer Rebecca Cole.

How to make a dramatic arrangement with branches

Follow these steps to make a big, beautiful branch arrangement:

Step 1. You start with a big urn or a big vase. You can buy one that looks like old stone when it's actually plastic. Usually these containers hold too much water, or they leak, so it’s best to get a smaller container to insert inside.

Step 2. Fill it with water. Use a whole packet of flower freshener if you have it (always use it if you have it).

Step 3. To hold the branches in place, get some chicken wire and cut it with wire cutters slightly larger than the size of the insert. It’s thin and it bends easily, so stick it in, nestling it between the insert and the urn. It should stick up just a little bit.

Step 4. Moss is preferable for hiding the wire. You can buy it at a florist’s shop or it might grow in your yard. Wet the moss and stretch it over the chicken wire.

Step 5. Figure out how tall the branch should be, then make a nice sharp, angled cut with your clipper; and since it’s a woody stem, you may want to make another cut up the stem so you have a larger area to draw water up. The chicken wire sections hold the stems in place. You can mix up your branches.

Step 6. Try to find some stems that have a nice curve to come out of the vase, so it almost looks like it’s dripping over. Make the curved stems shorter, and then place them in across the whole bottom so they hang over, low. Every step of the way you want the branches to go in just exactly right instead of trying to fix it later when you add flowers.

Step 7. Use greens and cut the ends before placing in the arrangement. Insert them in clumps, not individual stems, into the chicken wire.

Step 8. Keep checking out the shape of the whole arrangement. Make sure that it’s balanced and even.Trim as needed.

This branch arrangement can be beautiful as is, or you can add flowers to it. It should last 3 or 4 weeks.


Hi, I'm Rebecca Cole for howdini and I'm going to show you how to make a big, beautiful branch arrangement for either a centerpiece or a buffet or an entry room.

First, of course you need to start with a big, beautiful vase and I choose this, which looks like it's heavy but it's actually plastic so it's easy to work with.
Usually when you find a big vase it either doesn't hold water or it holds way too much water, so it's best to find a nice little insert that fits perfectly in it and you fill that with water. It's a lot easier and it also helps when you want to change the water to pull that out, rather than take the whole arrangement out.

So we place that in and if you have flower freshener from your florist, always use it because it will keep your branch arrangement lasting a nice long time. And because it's such a big arrangement, we of course are going to use the whole packet.

So you want to form some kind of structure over the vase that can really hold your branches in place. So chicken wire, which you can get at a big-box store or a hardware store or something. You just cut it with wire cutters, about a little bit bigger than the size of your little insert.

And then I'm going to just, it's pretty thin, so it's very malleable, and I'm going to just stick it in, in a few places so it nestles in the insert and just so it stays in place. It doesn't have to be neat because we are hiding it anyway.

So you have it stick up just a little bit and of course that's not so attractive. We won't want to see that, so there are several things you can do to hide it, either later or now. I prefer hiding a little of it now and I really like moss. Some of you are lucky enough to have this in your own back yard, which is great, or you can also buy this at a florist. Wet it a bit because if you wet it, it sort of becomes a little bit of a sponge and you can stretch it out. So I'm going to just stretch this out around the edges.

So when you get your branch you want to cut it down to the proper height. Even though I want this to become a nice, big, beautiful arrangement, include your vase in your estimation of how big and beautiful it is. Make a nice sharp angled cut, like that and with a woody stem, it's also good, because that's not quite enough space to draw the water up, So you can even make one more cut, you know up the side of it because then you even have more area that's going to draw the water in.

So you see I am using the little chicken wire sections now to hold the stem in place. This way we don't have to have 5,000 stems in here. You can mix up your branches in it.

When you're making a nice big arrangement you want to try to find some things that have a curve, you see here's a stem that has a really nice curve I want to use that curve to come out my vase so it looks almost looks like it is dripping over. So the way to do that is to cut this stem a little bit shorter than my other ones that I'm sticking straight up like that and go at a really big angle all the way from this right side to the left side. Make sure it's still in water though. I might even cut that a little shorter and keep helping the drama of it dripping over the edge of the urn … that's, that's, there’s a good curve too -- love it!

And as in really making any flower arrangement, you want every step of the arrangement to look really good, so it other words, don't think that we can put the branches in willy nilly and then when we get to the flowers, we'll fix it. The branch arrangement should look so good that you almost don't need the flowers afterwards.

Alright, so we have this almost kind of wispy grass green. That's going to be pretty. Doesn't take away from the branches. Cut off the whole thing. Almost everything that you put in water, you want to have cut before you put it in because it's been out of water for a while. These all start closing up, then it can't drink. Now I like these little wispy branches in clumps, so one alone is going to take me forever, to put it in like that, so I am going to just take a couple of them at a time, like this. Stick them in all over and when I say all over, I really mean all over. You really have to get inside here in the middle.

Just take a quick look around and make sure it's all balanced. You got a nice, beautiful branch and green arrangement that's going to last you a good three or four weeks.

I'm Rebecca Cole for howdini.

meet theexpert
  • Rebecca Cole

    Rebecca Cole Floral and Interior Designer Rebecca Cole is now one of the most in-demand interior and landscape designers in the country and has been declared a 'stylish, urban horticulturist' by New York Magazine and a 'garden guru' by the New York Post. more about this expert »

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