The Best Vase Shapes for Popular Southern Blooms

A guide to helping your bouquet reach its full display potential.

Poppy Vase
Photo: Pottery Barn

Whether you are blessed with a green thumb and a backyard garden bursting with seasonal color or can't manage to keep even the hardiest of houseplants alive and rely on the neighborhood grocery store or local flower shop for your blooms, it pays to have the right vases on hand when you bring your blossoms inside. The size, shape, and style of vessels you'll need is all about personal preference and what's easy to access locally. With that in mind, we asked Charleston-based floral and event designer Megan Chandler Lee of Vero Events to break down the vase style and shape for a handful of popular Southern blooms, all of which are readily available in backyards and floral suppliers around the region.

Best Vases for Hydrangeas

You can find these pastel-hued puff balls and elegant cone-shaped blooms growing in backyards and gardens across the South. They're also one of the easiest varieties to scoop up commercially. "The vase you'll need depends on the size of the head," Lee says. "Oakleaf and Limelight hydrangeas with their cone shapes lend themself to linear vases like a tall cylinder. More traditional hydrangeas do very well in a compote or a bowl." Lee suggests using vases that do not require foam as hydrangeas are thirsty and "like a good drink." Instead, place them directly in water.

Best Vases for Azaleas

"If you're looking to utilize what's in your yard in early spring, azaleas are a no-brainer," Lee says. "They work with anything—as a single bloom or as foliage in a larger arrangement." Plus, they'll accommodate most vases you have on hand from a bud vase to a tall glass cylinder. The only negative, Lee cautions, is that the springtime stunners only last a few days in the house, so if you're hosting house guests or throwing a party, don't get out your pruning shears too early.

Best Vases for Camellias and Magnolias

These backyard beauties require one simple solution—a camellia bowl. If you don't already own one of the shallow glass bowls, you can use any similarly shaped bowl you might use to serve sides and salads, or you can purchase one online (or in person) at Croghan's Jewel Box in Charleston. "When my husband and I have people over in the winter, I use my camellia bowl constantly," Lee says. "I like a little bit of breathing room between the blooms, so generally, I like about five per bowl—always go for odd numbers." Pro tip: The bowls work just as well for magnolias, but don't forget to leave enough stem to allow the fragile blooms to float on the foliage as they brown easily.

Best Vases for Tulips

"After you cut them, tulips continue to grow toward the light, rotating toward the nearest source," Lee says. "They sort of do what they want, so give them room to grow and move in a way that's organic so you aren't constantly arranging." Lee loves a bud vase with one to three blooms, especially for bedside tables and guest bathrooms. She also suggests grouping them for no-fuss centerpieces. For a more dramatic punch, try a structured tulipiere, which also pairs well with other dainty flowers like daffodils and ranunculus.

Best Vases for Peonies

Treat these oversized romantic blooms much like you would hydrangeas. "Use a bowl or a compote or a traditional cylindrical vase with a wide or fluted opening. You want them to have lots of room when they bloom," Lee says. "If you're looking to create a more complex arrangement, they play well with one or two other blooms. Pop them in with some foliage and back them up with other petal-heavy things like garden roses or ranunculus," she says.

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