We Made Joanna Gaines’ Basil Floral Arrangement And It Is Definitely A Fixer Upper

We Made Joanna Gaines' Basil Floral Arrangement And It Is Definitely A Fixer Upper

Joanna Gaines is a popular figure who is known for sharing tips on how to make homes more beautiful. She often shares decorating hacks that she tries in her clients’ spaces as well as in her own home. Her fans love turning to her for little ways to add stylish details to their rooms. Additionally, Gaines loves adding a living element to her designs. In her spaces, it is common to see herb gardens in the kitchen and fresh flower arrangements on countertops. Recently, Gaines shared that she sometimes adds leftover basil to her bouquets, which fans wanted to try out for themselves. “Leftover basil makes for a good filler in a summer arrangement and it smells so fresh!” Gaines wrote in an Instagram caption underneath a photo of a small flower bouquet filled with budding basil stems.

Fresh flowers are a decorative element that many people display to make their house feel more lively or to add a pop of color. According to a 2013 research article published by the American Society for Horticultural Science, flowers can also help increase happiness and decrease depression, with their natural scent acting similar to aromatherapy. Basil has a pretty signature smell that many people find refreshing. However, can basil actually give your flower arrangements an even more pleasant scent, as Gaines suggests? Here’s what happened when we tried this hack for ourselves.

Gathering our materials

Materials for this project

Alexandria Taylor / Static Media

For this project, we used a bouquet we bought from Safeway for $24.99, which included roses, daisies, carnations, baby’s breath, and a lily. It was bought the week of Valentine’s Day, so all the flowers were shades of red, white, and pink. We also bought a package of basil leaves from the O Organics brand, which is a private-label brand belonging to Albertsons, the parent company of Safeway. The package contained three stems of basil that each had about four to five leaves and cost $2.49. Materials that were not purchased but used for this project included the RÄFFELBJÖRK vase from IKEA and a pair of gardening shears.

While Joanna Gaines used fresh basil from her garden, we tried using basil from the store that’s typically used for cooking. Basil is one of the most common herbs and is relatively easy to grow. It’s also a fast-growing herb, meaning many people have it in abundance if it’s part of their garden. This is why gathering the herb from a home garden would be ideal, as excess basil or stems that have started flowering and are beginning to taste bitter could be used. However, because we had no basil plants on hand, we had to buy pre-cut stems.

Assembling the bouquet

Cutting the flower stems

Alexandria Taylor / Static Media

We began styling the perfect flower arrangement by cutting each of the stems. Cutting the stems before placing them in the vase allows for better water absorption and prevents the flowers from wilting quickly. Using the gardening shears, we trimmed each stem at a 45-degree angle, about 1 to 2 inches up from the bottom of the stem. Since this vase has two openings, we split the bouquet in half and tried to add an even amount of each type of flower to either side of the vase. It should be noted that these flowers were already pretty fragrant and could be smelled in passing even before they were placed inside the vase.

Next, we added the basil to the bouquet, and this is where some of the issues started to become apparent. The basil stems were pretty short, and the leaves were already limp, perhaps because they had most likely been cut weeks ago. Because of this, they were not the freshest basil that could be used in a floral arrangement. The short stems also prevented them from reaching the water unless the vase was filled too high. However, though the basil was a little limp, it did add some extra greenery and helped fill out the bottom of the arrangement where you could mostly see the stems coming out of the vase.

Should you add basil to your flower arrangements?

Basil wilted in floral arrangement

Alexandria Taylor / Static Media

The big question: did the basil make the bouquet smell fresh? Yes and no. We could definitely smell the basil, but we had to be up close to get a whiff. The fragrance of the flowers overpowered the herb, especially when we just walked by the vase. You would probably need a lot more basil for it to overpower the scent of the flowers.

Because this basil is meant for cooking, it wasn’t the best for presentation, either. It wasn’t cut fresh, so it was already limp when it came out of the package and wilted more over the next few days. Fresh-cut basil can last between one and two weeks, but the stems must be placed in water, and a plastic bag should be put over the leaves. This could be one reason the leaves wilted so quickly. However, a plastic bag isn’t the prettiest addition to a floral arrangement anyway.

The RÄFFELBJÖRK vase may have also caused some potential issues because of the different heights. The basil stems were too short, especially on the higher side of the vase, to be completely submerged in water. A shorter, flatter vase may have worked better. So, should you add basil to bouquets? If you have an herb garden, then it could be a creative way to use excess basil. However, we wouldn’t suggest going out of your way to try this hack.

✿ Read More About Flowers.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.