Tips For Working with Silk Flowers

I have hardly poked my nose outside at all this week! Not the usual, and not good really for a flower farmer, but it’s true. We have had RAIN—blessed rain!—several of the days this week, which has been amazing! Besides that, though, I have started working on the wedding flowers for my niece, Emily. YAY! So excited to be doing this for her—she’s the best!

She wanted mostly silk/fake flowers, with a few key things being real: bride’s bouquet and groom’s bout, table centerpieces, and cake flowers.

Pros and Cons for Silk Flowers

PRO: Cost = Much Cheaper

If you didn’t know, in general silk flowers are much less expensive—about half as much as real, if you’re paying someone else to do them. Cheaper even than that, of course, if you are doing them yourself. However, word to the wise, you can spend just as much or more on fake as you do on the real if you’re not careful! There are some “real feel” flowers that are markedly more expensive, but even just your usual selections from the craft store can run up the bill before you know it. Of the regular craft stores, Hobby Lobby probably has the best selection, with Michaels next, and last Joann’s. Bring your coupons, and plan on spending some time finding all the elements you need!

PRO: Not as fragile

This one is fairly obvious. These flowers can take a lot more handling and most mistakes can be fixed using the same flower!

PRO: They’re not going to die on you! As a florist, this translates to—you can do them ahead of time! This is actually a big one. With all fresh flower weddings, everything has to be done 3-4 days before, max, and that’s if you have a cooler to put your finished products into to keep them alive until the big day. With a big wedding, that means you’re going to spending all kinds of time those few days beforehand, putting things together and getting them ready to go. It has been nice for me on this one to have some leeway with the timing.

CON: They don’t smell good.

Have you ever sniffed a fake flower? Yeah, they smell like plastic and dust. Achoo!

CON: They’re not soft and touchable.

Stiff and rough under your fingertips—unless you go for the really expensive stuff, but if you’re going to spend that much, why not just get real ones?!

CON: Limited selection.

Again, you can probably find every variety you can think of, in every natural and unnatural hue, but you’ll be paying for it. For our purposes, doing it this way to help with the budget, the selection is not nearly as great.

I think my “Cons” basically boil down to the basic fact: THEY’RE FAKE! Up close, you can really tell. Be that as it may, I think they do have a place in the floral industry. I don’t blame any bride for being budget conscious. These will look great in the pictures and will be just fine. I am super happy though, that I get to make a real flower bouquet for the bride’s bouquet! :)

A Few Terms:

Stem: 1 large single flower or leaf, or 1 small bunch of greenery attached to a long stem..

Spray: a grouping of smaller flowers at the top of the a long stem.

Picks: shorter stems, usually 5-6 inches long, meant for corsages, boutonnieres, or crafts like wreaths and garlands.

Bushes: usually a lot of stems connected. Often they will have a mix of flower types or a mix of greenery, although you can get some that are all one thing.

Often the bigger “bushes” will be the best deal. Don’t be afraid to cut them apart and use the elements individually!

You can order things online, but a note of caution—it can be hard to determine actual size and colors from the online descriptions. For instance, I ordered “Mini Phalenopsis Orchids” that I was going to use on the boutonnieres, and they turned out to be 4 feet long! Not sure how those were minis, but okay. I also ordered some flower “bushes” in the right colors, that I was going to use for the bridesmaid’s bouquets, with the addition of a few more special elements to each one. In person, they were way too big and well—bushy—for bridesmaids bouquets. However, I was able to cut apart 2 of them, and with some added greenery they’re going to work fine. The rest will be going back. The good thing about ordering online from one of the craft stores is that you can return unwanted items to the store, so you don’t have to deal with return shipping.

These are all the extras so far. I’m already thinking about what else I should make with them! Garlands and wreaths dancing in my head!

These are all the extras so far. I’m already thinking about what else I should make with them! Garlands and wreaths dancing in my head!

Don’t ever buy leaves! I was going to buy just a box of rose leaves for the boutonnieres, but I’m glad I didn’t. Every stem comes with leaves, and just like with real flowers, many of those leaves will be stripped off before you make your arrangements. I have a whole box of leaves right now—plenty for boutonnieres, future craft projects, you name it!

Tools

flower stems, picks, and bushes

wire cutters

scissors

floral tape

wire

hot glue

ribbon


If Your Stems are Too Short

Prepping short stems

Prepping short stems

After I cut apart some of my bushes, I noticed that the side shoots had very short stems—only 6” long or less—which would be too short for my bouquets. Not to fear! I had 1 flower bush with some heads missing, so I cut off and used those stems, attaching the two with floral tape. I also ended up with extra stems after cutting my boutonniere roses down to the right size. Again, a simple attachment with floral tape and the shorties were ready to go!

Once they go into the arrangement, you most likely won’t notice the floral tape join. If there is one that stands out though, I will just continue the floral tape all the way down to the end.

Another similar trick is for very short stems. So, for instance, I cut apart the spray roses to use in the boutonnieres. Some of those stems were only about 1/2” long. The Queen Anne’s lace that I used as well, had several small flower heads on 3-4” stems, and within each cluster there were empty stems missing flowers. I was cutting them all apart to use individually anyway, so I popped the rose heads off their stems, and simply popped them back onto the empty stems. They fit just fine; no floral tape required! Then I had the length I needed to work with.


One final note about the glue:

Hot Glue

So, real flowers can’t take hot glue. Makes sense, right? Not good for their longevity or looks. With real flowers you have to use cold glue—floral adhesive. Anyway, fakies can take hot glue! This comes in handy when you’re making the smaller, fiddly stuff like corsages and such. You can pop off flower heads and hot glue them right where you need them.

Boutonnieres

Boutonnieres

I’ve got the bouts done! Next up: bridesmaid’s bouquets!

Hope these tips help the next time you’re in the market for silk flowers.