Christina Stembel’s Do’s and Dont’s To Perfect Flower Arrangements

A Farmgirl Flowers arrangement
A Farmgirl Flowers arrangement

Nobody knows flowers quite like Christina Stembel. The pretty brunette is the founder of Farmgirl Flowers, the San Francisco-based flower delivery company that is disrupting the floral industry one bouquet at a time. Seven years ago, she started selling a single daily arrangement that consisted of seasonal blooms and greens. She delivered the flowers, wrapped in burlap and tied with colorful twine, by bike. Her unique creations quickly became the cool girl’s flower delivery service in SF.

Christina Stembel
Christina Stembel

She also became a darling of conscious consumers. Stembel sources directly from growers in the United States. Shoppers aren’t allowed to select the type of flowers that are in the bouquet, instead they select a size and color palette. This allows the Farmgirl team to use all types of flowers and essentially eliminate waste. “Our waste is .2 percent. The industry standard is 40 percent,” Stembel recently told Haute Living. “If we let people pick, we would have tons of waste. The reason that traditional flower shops don’t work is that they don’t know what you are going to buy. When you go in there and buy the lillies, then they have to subsidize the tulips that they had to throw out. At least 40 percent of the flowers at a flower store are thrown out. I wanted designer quality and I didn’t want high waste and I wanted to do it under $100.” Stembel has succeeded and then some. Today, Farmgirl ships all over the United States, selling roughly 1000 bouquets per day, with 200-300 in the San Francisco market.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

Although Farmgirl focuses mainly on florals as gifts, Stembel plans to expand into events in the near future. “We are getting ready to launch, in the next few months, a program called Save the Date, which is going to ship event flowers,” she says. “It will be Farmgirl style—you’ll get to pick from three different color palettes and we’ll probably have one seasonal palette that you get to pick from. We’ll have a greens and whites, pastel, and gold color palette.”

Since the holidays are in full swing, we asked Stembel how haute hostesses can make the prettiest bouquets at home. Here’s what she had to say.

Do shop the flower mart.

If you’re in San Francisco, New York or La, go to the flower mart. There are only three wholesale flower markets left in the United States, so if you live in one of these city’s take advantage of it. Shop the mart early in the morning—that’s when you’ll find the best selection.

Don’t make the arrangement in a vase.

Build the bouquet in your hand rather than the vessel. This will ensure that all sides of the arrangement are full and lush.


Do pick three types of flowers.

Thrillers, spillers, and fillers—that’s what will make an arrangement visually interesting. Thriller flowers are the ones that everyone thinks of when they think of their favorite flowers: roses, orchids, tulips, calla Lillies—the big face flowers. Eucalyptus, on the other hand, is a spiller because it leads the eye throughout the bouquet. Fillers are just that: greenery and interesting tidbits that add depth to the bouquet.

Don’t make stems perfectly even.

Always stagger stems. Flowers should be at different heights. This will achieve visual depth and ensure that the bouquet isn’t boring.

Do think about color.

Select three to four colors for each arrangement. You can go bold or neutral, just ensure that there are highlights and lowlights.

Don’t do more than 20 stems total.

20 stems is the ideal amount. Farmgirl’s standard “just right” bouquet consists of 20 stems.


Do change the water often.

Fresh clean water is crucial to extend the shelf life of your arrangement. Cut the stems on a diagonal so they can absorb as much water as possible. If you have flower food, use it.

Don’t leave wilted dead flowers in the bouquet.

Once a flower has died, remove it immediately from the arrangement. This will ensure that the live flowers will continue to flourish.