Michael Gaffney, speaker at the Naples Garden Club December GMM, asked attendees how long they usually expected their flower arrangements to last. Audience members answered 3 days, 5 days, maybe a week. Amid gasps of amazement, Michael told members his arrangements always last a month, even up to 6 weeks.

How can you keep flowers alive for a month? Michael shared his five tips:

  1. Buy good flowers. Check flowers for plumpness. That means they’ve been kept hydrated.
  2. As soon as you get the flowers home, soak the whole bunch under water from 30 to 45 minutes. This allows flowers to soak up as much moisture as possible.
  3. Add a couple of drops of bleach in the water. This stops bacterial growth.
  4. Spray the flowers with Crowning Glory by FloraLife. He mixes half water and half Crowning Glory in his spray bottle. “This freezes them where they are,” he says.
  5. Cut 2 inches off the stems every 4 to 5 days.

Another trick Michael shared was to dip the stems of hydrangeas in alum powder. “This keeps hydrangeas forever,” Michael said. “They turn rock hard.”

Michael is well-known for his wedding bouquets, so he demonstrated his dome-design technique. “I love domes,” he confessed. Hydrangea-based designs are used in half his wedding arrangements. He then added roses tucked among the hydrangeas “like grout among the bricks.”

He also demonstrated his close, wrap and twist method. Pick up a flower in your left hand (if you are left-handed, do the opposite). Add the next flower at an angle away from you. Think of a bow and arrow. Cross the stem to the left and crank or twist the whole bouquet to the right. Continue adding flowers, one at a time, spinning after each addition. (This technique is easier to understand if you can see the pictures in his design book. You can also watch his many videos on You Tube.) You want the bouquet to have a nice, flat top. When finished, use wire or ribbon to wrap the stems.

After the meeting, Michael signed and sold his design books, as well as a vase he also sells on QVC, the Flower Crazy Floral Design System. The vase has an innovative plastic top featuring beveled holes. “Cut the flowers all the same length and place them through the holes,” Michaels explains. The result is a perfect dome design.

At the next day’s workshop, Michael reviewed the technique of creating a tied bouquet. Members assembled their roses in a bouquet, using the wrap and twist method, and then added greens for the collaring effect – a ring of greens of various textures peeking out from behind the cluster of flowers to create the effect of a collar. The stems were held tightly and then wrapped in wire and also covered with a satin ribbon. He stressed the importance of a smooth dome, and described this as a Biedermeier style bouquet.

Michael offers Flower Design Schools in various states in the United States as well as London, Paris, and Rome. More information is on his website, Flowershowschool101.com.