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How to Make a Mother’s Day Bouquet With Plants From Around Your Neighborhood

And more importantly, how to avoid getting arrested while stealing random flowers from all over the place

Ordering a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day is nice and all, but they can be disturbingly expensive. One look at the price for a dozen roses and you might even be inclined to forage for your own bushel of good-looking plants (that will perish in a few days, anyway) from around the neighborhood and teach yourself how to make a bouquet of flowers — which, hey, may not be such a bad idea, actually.

Well, before you go plucking plants willy-nilly, you should know that you may be breaking a few minor laws, depending on where you pick them from. Picking flowers from your local park, for instance, is likely to earn you a small ticket. “As far as I know, visitors aren’t allowed to pick any flowers at any of our parks,” says Sonya Jones, a ranger for the California State Parks. “As for the charges, I’m not completely sure on what the fine would be. I do know that citations usually start around $70.” (Or about the same price as a few limp roses from the grocery store.)

Likewise, snatching flowers from random yards around your neighborhood could land you minor trespassing and theft charges — and piss off your neighbors — but Sergeant Bob Alaniz of the L.A. Police Museum says, “Picking wild flowers from a roadside is fine and probably when you’re hiking in the mountains.” 

Good to know!

On a more environmental note, when I ask for foraged bouquet-making tips, Susan of Floret Flowers replies, “Please do note that we strongly advise against cutting flowers from parks and natural areas.” Especially in state parks, you should know that some ecosystems are fragile, and you coming in to tear out bushels of flowers could do serious harm.

That said, surely there are untended areas near your home where plants and flowers are growing wild by the roadside, or one of your nearby apartment complexes has some untamed, fast-growing bushes that you could snag a flower from without anyone batting an eye. Frankly, picking flowers from places like these is almost entirely harmless.

Once you spot those areas, the only problem left is putting together a bouquet that looks nicer than a handful of dried grass. But with a little guidance from a couple florists, including my own mom, you can make a Mother’s Day bouquet that looks pretty nice without spending a dime. Here are some rules of thumb…

Give It Some Structure

First of all, Becki of Petalon Flowers suggests starting your bouquet with “some branches or something slightly sturdier,” which will give you a solid foundation for the rest of your plants and flowers. This will also be useful toward the end of your bouquet-making process, providing support when you wrap everything together and preventing your bouquet from falling apart or going all limp when you hand it over to your mom.

Stick With Simple, Complementary Colors

If you remember the color wheel from elementary school, complementary colors sit directly opposite each other, like red and green or orange and blue. Both Becki and my mom suggest using complementary colors and keeping it simple, which means, as a beginner, sticking to no more than two colors (plus maybe some greens) per bouquet. “You can make a stylish bouquet with just green and white,” Becki says.

If you need some plants and flowers to look for, my mom says lavender (purple), cosmos (white, pink, purple), roses (red, white, yellow, pink, orange), chamomile (white, yellow), as well as all kinds of berries and greeneries grow in abundance around your average neighborhood. Going by our complementary colors suggestion, a few purple lavender flowers with a few purple cosmos and some basic greens would look great. Or you could match pink roses with purple cosmos and some greens. You get the point.

Pick Plants of Varying Sizes

To keep things interesting, you want to include plants of different shapes, sizes and, most importantly, heights (which again, is why having a branch or something sturdy for structure is important). As Becki says, “Keep the tall, floaty bits tall and floaty, and let them do their thing.” For an example of this, check out this bouquet my mom recently made from random flowers that she picked from around her neighborhood (although, mind you, she has more experience to mess around with colors than you might feel comfortable with).

My mom’s handpicked flowers

Wrap It All Up

Now that you have all of your plants and flowers put together, you have a few options. My mom says you can always put them in a vase, or better yet, some kind of rustic container, like an antique bucket. But she also says you can go simpler by wrapping them up in a little burlap, then tying the whole thing together with some twine, which results in a nice, rustic look that can help your amateur bouquet appear a lot more intentional (and a lot less like you picked it on your way over).

Now the only thing left to do is fight with your sibling about whether you should break quarantine to see your mom this Mother’s Day, so you can actually give her the flowers you worked so hard on.