Pink and purple flowers in a window display.
Courtesy Fleurotica

How to Pick a Potent Flower Arrangement

By Aileen Kwun
December 21, 2019
2 minute read

Robin Hilleary, the singular one-woman talent behind the New York City floral studio Fleurotica, offers advice on choosing the perennial please-all gift: a fragrant, freshly cut bouquet of flowers.

How do you pick a potent flower arrangement?

The floral industry is just as flawed and complicated as that of food and agriculture. Imported cut flowers are bred for beauty, not scent, so beware of cheap roses sprayed with fake rose fragrance—seriously. Stick with organic flowers, and choose as locally and seasonally as possible to ensure you get happy, healthy, and naturally, boldly scented flowers. And stay curious and open-minded, because sometimes the least expected varietals have a beautiful scent.

What varieties of plants do you prefer, from a scent perspective?

There are so many that really move me—roses, of course—but also: the creamy, musky scent of cymbidium orchids, transportive chocolate cosmos, scented geranium, tuberose, muscari (or grape hyacinth), sweetpeas, the blossoms of any citrus tree, little wild daisies…

What other elements make for a show-stopping floral bouquet?

I love unexpected pairings and unique forms. I think that anything can be beautiful en masse when arranged sculpturally—say, a ton of wild grass cut to exactly the same length in a kind of Brutalist way, or wildflowers at wacky, winding lengths, like dancers with long limbs. Alternatively, picking truly jaw-dropping blooms means you shouldn't put too much effort in at all. A few Icelandic poppies in a vase don’t ask for even an iota of work, as they should be left to shine entirely as they are, alone in the vase.

What are some of your favorite flowers to work with at the moment?

I can gush over any flower, but will have phases in terms of color palettes. Right now, I’m enjoying working whites and creams into my work, which I haven’t typically gravitated toward. Those lighter hues can really makes surrounding colors pop, while also showcasing the contours and shadows of the blooms.