3 simple, cheap and pretty flower arrangements

It’s that time of year folks, when bad flowers get purchased for SOOOOO much money and given to unsuspecting loved ones. To say that I’m a flower snob is a bit misleading; it’s not that I want only $10 a stem peonies all the time, it’s that I don’t like mass-produced generic, fragrant-less red roses that are closed so tight you could barely stick a pencil in them. (Not sure why you’d want to do that, but it’s 3 am and I’m out of clever metaphors. Deal.)

cheap flower

Here are three different inexpensive and easy flower arrangements for all of your year round styling needs. (And thank you Tessa for the pretty photos and gif’s.)

1. Weeds are your budget’s best friend.

They get a bad rap, but weeds are really just wildflowers, and yes, because of their ubiquity they are cheap … like $4 a bunch cheap at the flower market. So I used these three:


I love wax flowers. They’re hearty, last long, and are just miniature flowers. A vessel filled with just these are great in itself, but I like to combine them with other wildflowers to create a more, well, wild arrangement.


I add in some Genestra. And yes, I try to stay in a kinda specific color palette. But don’t get all Pantone chip about it, just mix pretty tones together.


I vary the size of the wildflowers slightly so they all don’t look too similar. But really just pick a color palette and go for it. Look how easy it is:

easy cheap weeds



So easy and so cheap. Like $7 for all.  That vase is from West Elm, last year and I love it.

2.  Try one color, three different flowers.  Here are the rules:

Don’t get exactly the same color or it will look fake.

Vary the size of the flowers.

Stick to three or four types of flowers. You don’t need to mix 15 different varieties of flowers.

For this next arrangement, I started with a large scale purple kale.


This huge flower kinda grounds the arrangement. The rest is basically just to break up how solid it is, add some airiness, and make it look more organic.


These berry flowers are a stark contrast to the big kale, but still in the same color family so they mix in really easily.


Then I found this flower that had various sizes of buds, some open and some closed to add to the organic look.

purple flowers


Organic yet intentional; exactly what look you should be going for.

3. One flower mixed with lemon leaves. It’s not that roses are bad, it’s just that they often need a bit of help. Obviously if you can get garden roses or a variety that isn’t so generic, that is always a plus. But your florist almost always has lemon leaves that they will give to you (some charge) to mix in with your flowers. Take them, they are great. One flower mixed with lemon leaves is super simple and really dresses up the flower.

So I chose this candy striped rose, because I’m edgy like that.

rose candy stripe

And mixed with these lemon leaves:


They are very easy to style and so organic.



Place them randomly so it doesn’t look fake, but keep them balanced.

There you have it folks — three different very cheap, easy, and beautiful arrangements.

A quick poll: What is your favorite flower to receive? As much as I love peonies, there are times when they are almost too pretty for me (or maybe I just use them too much). What are your favorites?

  1. Ashley

    Stock! Kind of a boring name for such beautiful flowers, but they come in such amazing colors (just received some bold purple ones) and the smell is intoxicating!

    • Emily

      OOh, never heard of it, but i’ll look into it. i’ve probably seen it before but can’t picture it! Thanks!

  2. Sarah

    My favorite are day lilies! Stargazers are my favorite, but as long as they’re big and beautiful I won’t complain. My favorite thing about lilies is that if you pinch off the part carrying all the pollen, they’ll last twice as long. I’ve had some for weeks by doing that!

  3. Jessica

    I love tulips for any occasion in the first half of the year and huge dahlias for any time after the end of July. But it has taken 9 years to break my husband of the roses at Valentine’s Day habit – I’ll have to wait and see if he remembers tomorrow!
    Thanks for the floral arrangement tutorial!!

    • Emily

      You are welcome! I also love tulips, tulips tulips tulips.

  4. sue

    sorry, i am THE peony girl… i once made a deal with myself that i’d buy them every week as long as they were in flower… that was back when their season was only a few short weeks… now of course they ship them in from o/s so you can get them in the uk for a few months running… hydrangea are another all-time fave, as are lilacs & hyacinth… bliss!

    • Emily

      me, too!!!!! i love them, very much.

  5. Joanna

    Sweet Peas top my list. Picking bunches of the wild variety in Santa Barbara County bring back happy memories. Lovely photographs, thanks for the inspiration!!

  6. Whitney

    i love how i can pin all your posts now-my pinterest is going to blow up now! i worked at a flower shop in college and lemon leaves were my go-to for fillers. they are the bomb.com. i love stargazers and peonies but i also love bright coral/orange and hot pink gerber daisies. i know they aren’t the normal classy design type flower but they really just make me happy. i want to wear turquoise jewelry with them.

    • Emily

      I know, its soooo much better. Before you had to click ‘pin it’ and now it like begs you to pin.
      Thanks Whitney!

  7. Michelle

    I love orchids but they are really a stand alone flower. For arrangements, my go tos are Black Dahlias, Gladiolus and lemon leaves. In the winter time, I used holy and pine as a cheap filler!

  8. AmyC83

    I’m loving tulips right now. My husband just brought home two different kinds of pink ones and they look so pretty together. Plus, they’re like $6 a bunch at Trader Joe’s.

  9. I’m usually pretty anti-rose myself (except for the fragrance, that is growing on me thanks to Dr. Bronner), but that last arrangement is killer!

    I’m looking forward to a post on area rugs in the future. Por favor!

  10. I’m a total yes girl here with all your choices. Wax flowers! Genestra, love their smell. And Ashley hit the other fave, Stock which, me thinks, is in season for spring. Spray roses can be charming. Your combos are nicely done. (Your flashing pics, however, are going to give someone a seizure.)

  11. Wendy

    How can anyone resist peonies? I think that they come with ants to keep them humble. It’s like some lowly workforce needs to coax them to open, like the sun and good watering alone just can’t do. And even if that’s some old wives tale, ants still tend to eat nectar from the tight buds, they have to be doing something, right? Peonies are so buxom, scented and soft…those ants are like that trail of toilet paper on the fabulous shoe of the oblivious fashionista. She looks good, but that paper brings her back to earth. For that reason I cannot deny the humbled peony. Oh, and blue thistle is gorgeous too..for similar reasoning. It’s so unusually pretty and yet it hurts when you get too close to it.
    Emily, love your posts and loved your use of Hellebores, one of my favorites.

  12. marina

    Cosmos. Their combination of fragility & wildness catch my breath.

  13. Garden roses are by far my favorite, and I’m not a rose girl… but since they look like peonies (and who honestly doesn’t love peonies?) with the fullness and ruffled texture and scent that roses SHOULD have, I love them. Dahlia’s are a very close second favorite, but mostly anything unique and unexpected will be a favorite of mine… including wildflowers.

    • Emily

      I agree. I LOVE garden roses, at times more than peonies. But harder to find…..

  14. Some flowers are really “scent”-imental to me– peonies are among those, as are roses, because I associate them with my mom & dad’s garden. Having said that, I love the seemingly wild Rose Campion (http://www.cherrygal.com/images/RoseCampion.jpg) that grows along my driveway… hot fuchsia in color, silvery gray stems & leaves, and it is such a fun accent to other flowers in orange or yellow. And it’s FREE!

  15. Molly

    Random overshare: When I was like 10 I was in a daddy-daughter group (like Brownies) called Indian Princesses. I know. SO NOT PC. Everyone got to pick an “Indian” name, and most girls chose Tiger Lily (obviously), but I was called Wildflower. I think the organization is now defunct (can’t imagine why), but I still love wildflowers.

  16. I adore the wildflower arrangement with that vase. I think you can put almost anything into a fabulous vase like that and have it look awesome. And it’s so much nicer to keep than the generic clear glass vases that come with the pricey arrangements!

  17. I really love carnations and the happy flower, daisy.

  18. Candace

    I really appreciated this article. Beautifully styled and budget friendly.

  19. Katy

    I have always loved daffodils. This is probably because I’m from the Midwest and they were always the first things to bloom after our cruel winters (which I’m currently suffering through… ugh, February), so they managed to bring some vibrancy and life and pops of beautiful yellow (or pink!) back to the gray world. But I also love how they are both super delicate and structural at the same time.

    Also– I love this post and all the flowers, but the second and third videos (er, whatever they are) aren’t showing up for me. All I see is a still photo of an empty vase. Anyone else having the same problem?

  20. EPS

    Anemones and poppies!

  21. Such a great post. These all look sooooo good and I really wouldn’t have thought of any of these combos! I’m a frou frou girl so Peonies, Roses, and Hydrangeas for me!

  22. gretchen

    gladiolus! it a super tall vase they are so pretty and sculptural, and look good for a long time. I also may just love them because my grandma always referred to them as “glads”

    that 3rd vase is to die for, was it a thrift/flea find?

  23. Holly

    I love tuberose mixed in with some queen elizabeth’s lace, tiny mums, and big white lilies! The smell of Tuberose just sends me to a good place. Speaking of cheap, the first bridal shower I ever threw I bought some very cheap white spray roses (two days before so they were nice and full on the day) and because I was young and broke, I trolled up and down the alleys cutting bits of things that grew over the fences (i.e. property lines). I was only barked at by one dog, and ended up with more than enough young ivy branches and white bougainville to fill up six small table vases. It looked beautiful. Great post!

  24. Nicole

    Ohh tulips will always have my heart (but I’m Dutch and it’s in my blood). Really love ranunculus too though.

  25. Jennie

    I love parrot tulips as they start to droop in a beautiful way like a Dutch baroque painting. I also get a kick out of those big white fluffy mums that are round like a ball, not sure what they are called. Garden roses are great of course, and yellow ones are my favorites. For scent, stocks (spicy) and lilacs. Your arrangements are lovely.

  26. Brittney Rindlisbacher

    EPS anemones and poppies are my favorite too! Loooove them.

  27. Michelle H

    Snapdragons! They’re so happy, like little smiling faces.

  28. Angeline

    Love peonies – though I am digging (har, not literally, we froze in here) anything from the produce department as “floral” …like carrot tops! (And anything your kids hand you – well nearly – is about as lovely as it can get.)

  29. Laura

    I love ranunculus. They are like tiny peonies because they are so layered and petaly, but far more exciting because they’re much cheaper (so you can buy more! yay more!) and their stems curve haphazardly and look organic and pretty once they are arranged. When Trader Joe’s starts selling them for $5.99 a bunch every January, I am all over that.

  30. Caroline

    hydrangeas hydrangeas hydrangeas. any kind, any color, all day, everyday.

  31. Emily you are a freaking genius! Another amazing post. Your styling abilities are so natural and effortless.
    PS. My favorite flowers are huge buds like peonies and dahlias,

  32. Lori

    Fun fact: If you squish a waxflower blossom between your fingers, you will be treated to an awesome smell.

  33. katja

    a little bouquet of violets & lily of the valley

  34. sue

    Emily, these pics are gorgeous! And I love the animated gifs. You could’ve photographed a weed and I bet it still would’ve looked great. Can I ask if you shot them yourself and what type of camera/lens you used? Thanks in advance!

  35. Suemi

    UC Long Beach has the best art department. I would start there a lot of traditional and new contemporary coming art out of that place.

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  37. Lenia

    Stocks. I love studying next to them, looking at them and smelling them. They are so beautiful and their fragrance is amazing! I love your blog btw! :)

  38. Rox

    I love sweet williams. My favourite mix is of deep pink and white. They were my grandma’s favourite too.

  39. Pat

    Love these simple beautiful flower arrangements!

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  45. Linda McClellan

    I love the idea of using things from your yard that are brown from the fall arranged with your favorite flowers. Also seeing the results of cutting them shorter to mix in with the other things is definitely the way I am going to go. I buy mixed spring bouquets that are inexpensive but like a bunch of wildflowers which has always been my favorite. I would have to say that bunches of wisteria is my favorite but not sure how to arrange them. You also gave me an idea from two plants in my yard called Hot Lips and Firecrackers and I don’t know the real name but they have long stems and would look great hanging out from the sides because it is more of a bush actually with long stems. They grow great in the dry heat here in Texas. I love the changing picture of your arrangement, I can watch it coming together!!

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