Arts, Culture & Design
How to Arrange Flowers
By Amber Kallor
Ritz Carlton Hotel image

Transform your home into a tropical oasis with tips from the head florist at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. 

"Flowers and plants offer a contactless welcome and a wordless invitation to any space,” says Lori Thompson, floral supervisor at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. “They’re an absolute necessity to transform a house into a home.” While not every abode boasts glorious views of the Gulf of Mexico like this Florida property, a vivid arrangement can add instant tropical charm—even if you’re in a landlocked locale. Here, Thompson shares a few of her floral secrets so that you can freshen up any room fast.

Lori Thompson, floral supervisor at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

Try one of my favorite trios to bring the beach vibes home: red king ginger, orange psittacorum, and fuchsia mokara orchids.

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image


One of Thompson’s favorite ways to design is also the simplest: “I love using a single type of flower—but a lot of it,” she says. “No additional foliage. No wild shaping. I let the natural beauty of the flowers sit undisturbed.” Thompson says that nothing compares to a huge vase of green and white parrot tulips, which are fairly easy to find and very long lasting. One thing to keep in mind, however, is where you place the arrangement in your home. “Tulips gracefully stretch and bend toward the light,” she explains. To prevent a bouquet from looking lopsided, find a spot under or near a central light source to keep tulips standing straight. Also, be wary of keeping them in direct sunlight or near a radiator, as tulips thrive in cooler temps.


Advancements in technology have made most blooms available year-round but coaxing flowers to maturity often leads to higher costs. Get the most bang for your buck by choosing blooms that are naturally in season and splurge on greenery, especially when creating a bouquet with different varieties of flowers, says Thompson. “Beautiful, lush foliage is what really separates a budget-friendly arrangement from a budget buster,” she adds. (Just be sure to remove any leaves that fall below the water line to prevent rot and bacterial growth.) Thompson also recommends taking a trip to a local farmers market or a street vendor for the freshest stems.

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image


“We’ve fully embraced our proximity to the beach by creating a lush, tropical oasis on the grounds at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples,” says Thompson. She likes to bring the outside in with bright, sunset-inspired arrangements that often incorporate the same blooms found on the property. Don’t have tropical varieties growing in your garden? Try one of Thompson’s favorite trios to bring the beach vibes home: red king ginger, orange psittacorum, and fuchsia mokara orchids. “They are just so bold and stately; you can’t help but stop and stare!” she says. 


“Knocking an arrangement out quickly works best with a cut-and-drop type of flower,” says Thompson. “Any kind of flower that has its own attractive foliage attached is key because you don’t need to add additional elements.” She recommends reaching for a bunch of fluffy hydrangeas, blousy peonies, or mini callas that take up space and can stand alone. “They do wonders when you only have minutes to spare!” Thompson adds. Properly trimming the stems, however, is just as important as selecting the right blooms. To snip like a pro, use garden clippers or shears in lieu of basic scissors to slice off two inches and create a sharp, angled cut. This provides thirsty flowers with a wider surface for maximum water absorption and helps prevent premature wilting. 


All you need to extend the life of your bouquet is a little TLC. Re-trim your stems about one inch, clean the vase, replace the water, and add a dash of flower food every three days, says Thompson. She also recommends removing any blooms that are past their prime, even if they aren’t completely dead. “This helps slow bacterial growth and doesn’t allow the advanced decay of a few stems contaminate any of the fresher flowers,” explains Thompson.

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