Submerge your Flowers for Chic (and Cheap!) Centerpieces

You’ve just discovered that the centerpiece of your dreams is totally out of your price range. No matter, says InStyle Weddings! Jung Lee of Fete, an N.Y.C. planning, suggests replacing the more expensive flower with something similar but cheaper. Consider the color, height and texture you’d like and ask your florist to suggest a couple other options. French tulips may be your first choice, but gladioli would give you a similar look for half the price. And to cut costs even further, display them dramatically. “One way to get away with fewer stems per arrangement is to buy or rent tall containers, fill them with water, and submerge a few French tulips, cymbidium orchids or amaryllis, or a branch of berries inside,” says Bill Heffernan of Chicago’s Flowers by Heffernan Morgan.

Once you have chosen a type of flower, says, you can get creative with the details. For a truly striking arrangement, use multiple cylinders in varying heights in the center. You can either use the same kind of flower in each vase, or choose different flowers in the same color palette. Orchids are one of the most popular choices for submerged flower centerpieces, and they are available in gorgeous colors.

You can also choose to add some detail to the vases. For a Zen look, place a layer of smooth black pebbles in the bottom of the cylinders. If you are going for an dazzling evening look, then glittering crystals will look amazing when the candlelight bounces off of them. You can choose clear crystals or go for a bold choice like deep red or emerald. You can also float candles on top of the flowers for a very pretty effect.

Here are a few gorgeous samples of submerged centerpieces.

Tall Cylinder Vases

Images from The Knot via Mike + Sheila; ABnC Parties

Fishbowl Flowers

Images from minnow on seaview

Clustered Centerpieces

images from & Flickr by kristenhenschen

Submerged Bouquets

Images from The Knot via Forever blog & wedding-flowers-and-reception-ideas

Flowers by Candlelight

Images from No Fuss Fabulous & Bridal Cheek


If you chose to do your own centerpieces, here are some tips from No Fuss Fabulous:
1. In order for your flowers not to float to the top of your vase, you will need to a) attach the stems to the bottom of the vase with aquarium glue or b) use fishing weights. Fishing weights are small silver weights sold at hardware stores. Attach weights onto the flower with clear fishing wire and let it sink – cover up with decorative stones or c) for some flowers simply adding decorative stones or pebbles to the bottom of each vase around stems keep the flowers from floating to the top.

2. If you use regular tap water, bubbles may eventually begin to form on your flowers. Use distilled water to prevent bubbling.
3. Real flowers are recommended. If you use silk flowers, make sure you test them in water to prevent bleeding. I have heard that synthetic flowers work better than silk.
4. If your arrangement starts to look too heavy, try submerging only half of your flowers. I have been to a few events where they only submerged a portion of the flowers and they looked quite lovely. See photo below offlowers not fully submerged.
5. In water, everything is magnified. A floating wire or fraying silk flower will show. Be sure that your pieces are well put together before adding water.
6. Depending on the flower you choose, the blooms can look nice up to a week submerged in water. The length of time your centerpiece will look fresh depends not only on the flower you choose, but also how much jostling will take place. This is something to think about if you are hauling a few of them to a wedding reception or other event.


  1. These really are so fun. I love your ideas of adding black pebbles on the bottom for a Zen look. Super fabulous.

  2. I love the submerged flower look and I have borrowed the vases necessary for this look however the problem I am encountering is orchids are NOT CHEAP I was quoted $25 a stem, and if I want to put 3 vases on a table that would mean I am spending $75 per centerpiece… This is not affordable unless I can find a way to purchase the orchids cheaper… Any ideas?

  3. Check out Sam’s Club! You can buy orchids in bulk, for cheapppp! Many people are iffy about using Sam’s, Costco, etc. But I am going with them; and everyone I know that has used them was very satisfied. Good luck, and congrats =]

  4. i agree with Candance i wanna use orange orquids for my centerpieces but they are REALLY EXPENSIVE. Does anyone know what other type of flower could i use??

  5. to buy orchids in bulk, try


    Check out this link, orchids are only $2.87 a stem

  7. Submerged orchids seem to be a popular idea for weddings and there are many articles and photos depicting similar setups. I was able to find orchids on sale last week at and got my order in at a great price.

  8. Can you submerge Calla Lillies? Anyone who made these have any pictures I can see?

  9. I work at a banquet hall and worked a wedding where the bride submerged calla lillies in water and they look great and lasted all night. She used colored stones in the bottom of the vase and had a light in there which was beautiful. Also she tied a colored ribbon around the bottom of the vase. I love the centerpiece and considering doing the same for my wedding in July.

  10. Melissa says:

    I’m wondering it carnations submerge well, and if so, can I cut off the stems and must use the flower it’s self?

  11. I love these arrangements. Would you happen to know the type of branches used in the first picture (next to the pink orchids and pink tulips)?


  12. Try, just used them for an event and the flowers were gorgeous and affordable!!

  13. Shannon says:

    The branches in the first picture are cherry blossoms…beautiful!! This also looks great with gladioli and snapdragons!

  14. Lorraine says:

    I love this idea!! I got some red silk orchids and now my only problem is that they bleed into the water really bad. WHat can I use to seal them so they don’t bleed?

  15. Pat Rice says:

    Can roses be submerged? Has anyone tried that?

  16. Worked great at our wedding!

  17. Natasha says:

    Does anyone know where I can get wholesale roses and cala lilies in Florida. I’m from the Bahamas and thats the closest place I can go for them

  18. Pam Finnemore says:

    I use just a one stem rose in my vase. Lasts at least 5 days if I replace the water. I then sqeeze out the water and hang the rose to dry.

  19. So you girls have DEF led me to the right place for finding these flowers at great prices! The florist is trying to charge us $8 PER STEM with calla lillies!! My fiancé and I have plenty of money in our budget for traditional floral arrangements but we think these are SO beautiful and honestly- who wants to spend more on the flowers when you can put the extra toward more food, etc.

    One major question- Once you get these flowers yourself a few days before the wedding, who do you have do your arrangements? I know I won’t have time- did you hire someone??

  20. You hire, though not every florist does this, ask few friends and family members, they might have few friends that are new in the business that you can hire to do it.

  21. USE SILK FLOWERS!!! they look real after they are in the water and they are super cheap! I got stems of orchids for $4.75 each!

  22. I design these type of centerpieces all the time for my events and think they are wonderful to look at. The silk flowers work for me…thanks for the idea.

  23. So is the over all consensus that once submerged in water the silk are fine? or Latex?

  24. Do you have silk flowers that you would like to sell that are left over from your wedding? Let me know as I would love to buy them depending on color, etc.

  25. These are GREAT!!! I’m definately using this idea for my wedding in March 2011…Yay!

    Does anyone know where I can order those centrepiece risers[?] in the picture with the 3 vases and the 3 different types of white flowers? It looks like there’s a light beaming from the middle…OMG! I’m in love! Must have! Please help anyone? I will need about 35?

  26. Hi ive just brought synthetic pink lilies that im wanting to submerged does anybody no if they run or just simply go flimsy in water??

  27. I LOVE this idea! The submerged flowers look beautiful in these pictures, but I was watching a YouTube video showing how to do this and they used tap water, it didn’t look near as good as these pics do, the water around the flower bubbled and it didn’t look as nice…Would these need to be made up the day of the wedding? Does anyone know if I were to make them myself the day before the wedding if they would still look good in the water??

  28. i think i will use silk flowers…. thanks for the idea

  29. Where can I buy the glass vases to submerge these flowers in and spend and arm and a leg on!?

  30. and NOT spend a lot of money on sorry!

  31. Does anyone know what is the secret to keep calla lilies submerged in the water and not flow to the top? I see the bottom of the glass vase has nothing, no flower frog, nothing else, it’s clear. How do they stay down?

  32. Tyler – I bought my glass vases @ $1 a piece from I don’t know if you have a Dollar Tree near you but if you do, they’ll deliver them to your local Dollar Tree for $4.95. SO worth it.

  33. I am using submerged flowers for my wedding reception center pieces…what height of vase does anyone recommend for this???

  34. I found cheap cylinder vases, all size, at The cheapest I found but you have to buy them in bulk and pay for shipping. Although with my order, it is the cheapest I found even though I have to order more than I really need. Example: 20×5 inch vases were around $8 each. That is cheap!!

    I also did a very small mock up of my centerpieces using fake orchids from Micheal’s. They did bleed but my sister and I put them in a bucket of water, let them bleed, then put them in the vases and they didn’t bleed anymore.

  35. Courtney – the height of the vases depend on your hall. I took 4 different height vases to my hall and they let me look at them on the tables to see which size I should use. The manager actually helped me and my sister decide. My hall’s ceilings are really high so I have to go with a taller vase. I’m using 20″, 16″ and 12″ on a mirror with votives around them, and floating candles on top. Shorter vases will be cheaper but I really want my centerpieces to stand out. And because I’m doing them myself, I can spend a little more becaue I’m not paying anyone else for their labor.

  36. Anchen van der Walt says:

    Hi. Has any one submerged Gerbera’s?

    I like the idea, but want to use red Gerbera daisies.

  37. I did submerged orchids from Sam’s Club with crushed blue beach glass from the dollar store for my wedding and they turned out amazing! I got shorter vases from the dollar store and taller vases at Target for $3. They stayed submerged for several days without looking bad. I recently helped with decor for a smaller wedding and used submerged tulips I bought at the grocery store. To get them to stay down I twisted the tulips around the vases. I also tiered the roses in a cylinder vase, but did not submerge them and they looked cool. You can find pics here:

  38. Hi,
    Nice ideas! I wanted to know what flowers you would suggest if I wanted to make a submerged flower centerpiece for home and everyday decor?I would like to put it on a sideboard/console as decor and for low maintenance use only silk flowers so they stay longer.Will silk flowers stay very long submerged?

  39. Hi,

    I’m using floating dendrobium orchids for my centerpieces. I’m putting 2 cylinder vases (7 inch and 10 inch) on a silver charger plate. My florist is giving me each stem for $5 each, so anyone whose charging $25 a stem is totally taking u to the cleaners. Keep looking for a reasonable florist!