Tips and Tricks for Backyard Blooms

Spring has sprung, as evidenced by the lush greenery and raging allergies we’re all suffering from. With yards in full bloom, we thought it was a great time to share some tips and tricks for cutting in your backyard. Grab your pruners, ladies! We’re channeling Martha!




My favorite way to bring the outdoors in is with beautiful cut branches. It’s the height of flowering branch season here in Alexandria, with dozens of gorgeous blooming trees – cherry, forsythia, red bud, etc. If you’re more of a simple girl like me, there’s something so elegant about green branches. It’s a staple on my kitchen island all spring and summer, and you’ll find yourself scouring your backyard for the perfect cutting.




It’s best to cut flowers early in the morning before they become stressed from the heat of the day. We recommend using a sharp pair of clippers or pruners – something you should replace each year. Cutting flowers from your garden is great for your plants and actually cues the plant to bloom more frequently and heavily – so get to cutting. You should feel zero guilt from snipping all the pretty blooms.



Water Temperatures

When arranging your cut flowers, it’s important to get the temperature right for your flowers. Most flowers prefer room temperature water, with the exception of the early spring bulb flowers. When you’re handling tulips, daffodil, or iris – stick to cold water instead.




Put down the scissors, ladies. If there’s one topic that gets me a little preachy, it’s flower tools. A bypass pruner from the hardware store is the best tool for the job. Getting a clean, sharp cut on your stem goes a long way in keeping your cut flowers happy.




It can be a little intimidating knowing how to handle all the different flowers.  We’ve broken down cut flower stems into a few categories to simplify.

  • Standard Stems
  • Before arranging, cut your stems at an angle to expose maximum surface area for water absorption. We recommend re-cutting stems once a day to keep your flowers drinking and happy.
  • Woody Stems
  • Woody stemmed flowers – like viburnum and lilac – drink best when the ends of their stems are mashed. Break out the hammer – don’t worry – you won’t hurt the flowers.
  • Milky and Slimy Stems
  • Any stem that secretes a sap or milky substance should be cut and kept separate from other blooms until “the ooze” stops.



  • The latest from Rachel
Rachel Gang is the owner of Helen Olivia Flowers, a boutique flower and home décor shop, located in Del Ray, Alexandria. She developed her love for flowers while working as an event planner in the busy Washington, D.C. events industry. Along with her husband and team of designers at Helen Olivia, Rachel works with brides and corporate clients to create unique and captivating designs. Her work has been featured in Traditional Home Magazine, HGTV, Borrowed and Blue, and Style Me Pretty.

Helen Olivia is a boutique floral design studio located in the Del Ray neighborhood. Known for a lush and timeless style, the shop is a favorite among locals. Outside of beautiful flowers, Helen Olivia is a destination for house plants, decorative pottery, and an endless selection of stylish front door wreaths. The shop is also well known for its weekly floral design workshops — come visit us and try your hand at flower arranging! Helen Olivia is owned by Chuck and Rachel Gang who are veterans of the bustling Washington, D.C., events industry. Both are D.C. natives, and reside in the Ft Hunt neighborhood of Alexandria with their son Jack.

1519 Leslie Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


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