NY Daily News, April 13, 2014

Spring means flowers are in bloom, and a New York expert tells you how to arrange them and keep them healthy.

by Sheila McClear | NY Daily News | Sunday, April 13, 2014, 2:00 AM

Oscar Mora shows how to put together a floral arrangement at FlowerSchool New York. (ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Oscar Mora shows how to put together a floral arrangement at FlowerSchool New York.
(ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Spring flowers are slowly starting to bloom — in the park, on your dresses, and in a vase in your apartment.

But if you’re the typical New Yorker, buying deli flowers on your way home from work to spruce up your space, the experience can be disappointing. So often, a budget bouquet droops and dies within days.

A few easy tricks from the pros can preserve your peonies and even have you dabbling in floral design on the cheap.

To create a basic bouquet a home, you “really only need three basic elements — one greenery, and two (different) flowers,” says fashion’s favorite floral designer, Oscar Mora, while teaching a class at FlowerSchool New York in Chelsea. The school offers classes for everyone from beginners to professionals.

Mora — who counts Martha Stewart as a fan, and whose arrangements have appeared on the pages of Vogue and brightened up events by designers like Valentino and the late L’Wren Scott — began the class by flawlessly creating a large floral installation that involved two tubular vases featuring cherry blossoms, orchids and Japanese scabiosa. Students in the class were given our own flowers to arrange into a silver vase.

Mora’s approach to what can become an obsessive-compulsive task is relaxed. “I design in a comfortable, easy way,” he says. “I prefer to use things that are mixable, not too complicated.”

Over the course of two hours, we learned that a floral arrangement could create balance or veer seductively asymmetrical, and that it’s important to “fill holes” in the design with — that’s right, more flowers.

Mora's finished arrangement is a thing of beauty. (ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Mora's finished arrangement is a thing of beauty.
(ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Oscar Mora gives some tips to Kathleen O’Leary at FlowerSchool New York. (ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Oscar Mora gives some tips to Kathleen O’Leary at FlowerSchool New York.
(ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Arranging the front of the leaves facing the “front” of the arrangement (because the color of a leaf front is “more shiny and intense” than the back) is the mark of a professional, Mora notes. And if leaves or berries still aren’t shiny enough, there’s a spray-on product called Leaf Shine to take care of that.

When creating a bouquet for your home, Mora cautions going the deli route, saying that those heavily processed flowers simply don’t last long.

“If you go to the Flower District, you can buy flowers that are affordable. They will last a week, because they’re fresh flowers,” he says. New shipments come in on Mondays, Wednesdays and “a little bit on Saturdays.” His favorite stores are Major Wholesale and US Evergreens.

Oscar Mora cautions against getting flowers at the deli, saying they won't last too long. (ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Oscar Mora cautions against getting flowers at the deli, saying they won't last too long.
(ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

If you still want to kick it deli-style, Mora suggests creating several bunches in different colors, taking them apart, and reassembling an arrangement using the colors you like.

When it comes to a long life span, not all types of flowers are created equal.

“Flowers we like to recommend that last longer are certain types of orchids, like cymbidiums, as well as varieties of lilies — Casablanca lilies could last 10 days,” says Kobi Muscari, owner of Muscari Fine Flowers in Roslyn Heights, L.I. “Some roses, if the room temperature is not hot, can last just as long.”

As I learned with my finished arrangement from Mora’s class, you’ll want to tend to your creation with care, no matter what the cost. Because flowers, as the saying goes, feed the soul.

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Keeping Flowers Fresh

- Change the water every other day, and diagonally cut 2 inches off the stems so that they can drink in more water.

- An easier trick, according to Mora, is to add a few drops of bleach to the water after you first fill the vase. It will kill bacteria so you won’t need to change the water or make cuts, and it won’t hurt the flowers.

- Use a dark or opaque vase. See-through vases show dirty water.

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Locally grown

Skip 1-800-FLOWERS and go local. Two fun startups will keep you in bloom:

BloomNation lets you search by city and connects you to local florists from there. “It’s like an Etsy for flowers, all based on local hand-deliveries,” says co-founder David Daneshgar. bloomnation.com

Petal by Pedal This adorably whimsical service that plans to launch this month will get you locally grown flowers delivered by bike petalbypedal.com

1Oscar Mora