Flower Arranging with Amber Lu

L.A. based florist, Amber Lu, inspired us recently with her elegant arrangements made from wildflowers and spent skincare bottles, adding beauty to her space with items typically tossed aside in the recycling bin. Today she shares her process; tips for sourcing and working with local wildflowers, and how to compose them into beautiful and sustainable arrangements from repurposed empties. Our takeaway; invest in high-quality natural skincare products and save your bottles to make art not trash.


How do you incorporate sustainability into the act of flower arranging?

The flower industry is extremely wasteful, so every little thing counts! If I have an event, either small or big, and I have to break down, I want to try to save every flower and hard goods, and other materials such as chicken wire, as much as possible (to reuse for future events/deliveries); compost or use the leftover flowers and foliage to repurpose them. This process may take more time when you could dump them all into a bin, but if the flowers are still good, why not repurpose them? They can be reused, they can be made into a new arrangement and be gifted, or they can be enjoyed at home. Separating plastic and paper into recycling, or reusing the paper that was used to wrap your flowers for packaging and securing in place for deliveries. Or you can connect with a local farmer or compost business that can take all of the leftovers! Other major things are: avoid using oasis at all cost - oasis is a floral foam that contains micro plastics and is extremely harmful to not only us, but to the environment, along with dyed and spray painted flowers, they become another waste and is extremely harmful due to the chemicals from the paint. 

Any tips for working with wildflowers?

I think it’s good to be mindful of where you cut “wild” flowers from. If it’s in a preserved area, please do not cut. If you are foraging, please make sure to forage responsibly and if it’s in someone’s yard, please don’t cut without permission! Wildflowers may not last as long compared to a different flower; they may withstand certain climates, but as a cut, note that they may not sometimes last even half the day. It’s good to learn the lifespan on certain flowers if you plan on using for future events, clients, deliveries, etc. Always remember to give them (and all flowers) a fresh cut before placing in water!

What do you look for first when starting a flower arrangement? Where do you start?

I tend to look for its natural movement first, or certain height on different stems. From there, it helps guide me on how i want to make and finish the arrangement. I like things to be natural, so I love when they have their own movement, but sometimes I like to manipulate them to get different shapes to make something more sculptural. 

How can we be mindful when sourcing flowers?

I think it’s good to know where they are being flown from, what farms they are coming from; flowers are being flown from all over the world and leave so much carbon footprint. Little gestures like buying flowers that are not wrapped in plasti. I try to buy as much local flowers as possible or use flowers that are within the season. This is all easier said than done, but doing these small things helps!

Any other tips you have on flower arranging? 

Just have fun with it - enjoy the process. It’s good to learn the basic and mechanical parts to it, but I think just let yourself and the flowers “be”.

What's your favorite plant to work with right now?
Begonias - my current favorite varieties are: begonia maculata ‘wightii’, begonia longiciliata, begonia ‘lomita lady’, and begonia carolineifolia. 
marah macrocarpus, or known as wild cucumber. 

And most varieties of orchids. (there are just too many to name!)

Do you have a favorite flower?

There are too many to list, but currently: poppies, columbine and any cut stems of lady slipper orchids.

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