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Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: Session 1


Which tools would you suggest a floral designer spend extra money on and which tools do you feel you can skimp on? (submitted by a reader in Colorado)


“In the beginning, my advice would be to only buy the tools as you need them – everything from clippers to floral tape to vases. This keeps your costs down. If you are able to invest more money upfront, it’s best to direct those dollars towards your branding, marketing, etc.

What you should never skimp on are decent clippers, high quality shoes to wear in the studio, and above all, your flowers. Buy the best product you can and you will set yourself apart.”

– Clare Day (Clare Monica Day)

“I normally buy the standard clippers, cutters, and knives from my wholesaler. On many occasions I have upgraded to the strongest, sharpest, longest lasting tools but in truth these things get lost very easily in a busy shop, so I don’t invest heavily in them. We are constantly throwing out tools or leaving them on jobs.  If you call your cooler and your delivery van a tool, I say make certain you don’t skimp on those. That cooler better be working and that van better start when it’s delivery time!!! “

-Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)

“I’ve always used clippers, could never quite adapt to using a knife. About a year ago I was introduced to Hida tools in Berkeley. They sell Japanese cutting tools of every variety. Their clippers were life changing for me.When we asked Hida what the difference was between the Japanese clippers and Felcos, pointing to his he said “these cut right through”. So we have named them our cut-right-throughs. I really can’t recommend them enough,it’s so important to think about your hands when making hundreds of cuts a day. Also, if you’re going to invest in really good tools, it’s important to clean them often. We use camellia oil to lubricate them. I sound like an infomercial, but you can order Hida online at The ones I use are Tobisho Brand Pruners A-Style.”

japanese floral tools on a stainless steel table

-Susan Donley (Florali)

“There are two types of tools I really do invest in. First the cutting tools… maybe because iIcome from the country of the Swiss Army Knife :o) Seriously, good cutting tools allow you to work faster and cut flowers drink more and last longer, so you get a double benefit. I also do invest in high quality vases and containers as I usually “rent” them for weddings and therefore tend to transport them often back and forth.

One thing I decided to spare on is a flower cooler. Flowers do not like temperature shocks. If you use a cooler, you need to make sure that the cold chain is respected, which is a rather tricky exercise in my opinion. In my new French studio, I will therefore use an old stone cellar which insures a constant 15°C (59 °F) all year long, perfect to store flowers… and wine!”

-Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)

“My most important tool is my knife. It has to be really sharp to make good cuts, so therefore I prefer to spend some extra money on a good knife which I can sharpen over and over again. The tool I think you can skimp on or actually don’t really need is a stripper. I think strippers damage the stems and it’s better and easier to strip with a knife. So no stripper and go for a really good knife!”

-Emelie Ekborg (Svenska Blomsterbloggar)

“Ratchet clippers are very useful when clipping large, thick stemmed branches it’s worth paying a little extra to get a heavy duty pair. A pair of good quality flower clippers and a design knife, spend a little extra on these as they will last longer. Wire cutters: do not use your flower clippers to cut wire as it will wear them down and ruin them! Those are the key tools I keep close by on my design table.”

-Alicia Schwede (Bella Fiori)

“Flower clippers and Ribbon scissors are 2 tools that it pays to splurge on! I purchase my flower clippers from and use Gingher Scissors, which have both lasted me for years.

 My most valuable inexpensive tools are plastic milk crates which I pick up for free from the local recycling center. I use these for packing buckets of extra flowers, large urns, tall arrangements. etc. in transportation to events so they don’t tip over in the van.”

-Elisabeth Zemetis (Blush Floral Design)

“Felco clippers.  I will clip/rip/tear my flower stems with anything when I’m desperate, and I did for a long time.  After I bought my first pair of Felco clippers I swore I’d never process flowers without them again.  They are amazing for pretty much any stem, but are invaluable for the woody stems.  The handle is comfortable, and they cut smoothly.  Worth every penny!”

Floral tools Felco pruners



-Sarah Winward (Sarah Winward)

Thanks you to Sarah, Holly, Alicia, Emelie, Susan, Laetitia and Clare…for your advice!

Click here to see Expert Panel Session 2.



  1. Heiress Emma says:

    This is such a great series you’ve started. This information is invaluable to me, starting out and wondering what to spend money on. Perfect, thank you!

  2. Terri says:

    I’m not a florist, but I’d add a padded mat where you spend most of your standing time!

  3. Such great advices from the panel! I agree scissors is THE item we use the most, so worth getting a few good pairs. I recently switched to ARS General Purpose Handle Pruner and thought it is amazing as it is light and cut through most flower stems effortlessly.

    Cooler is also essential for places that will go over 20°C (68°F).

  4. Mimi says:

    What a great feature this. I too believe in buying the best clippers. A few pairs have “disappeared,” but now each of us have a different color and is responsible for replacing them in the one spot we keep them when not in use. This has helped a lot. I buy the best flowers I can from the best wholesalers. I have a retail shop and our customers spread the word about how long-lasting and beautiful our flowers are. I also teach them how to care for them to extend vase life even longer.

  5. Dana Hacman says:

    Wow! Love this! Great idea on the milk crates! Will sure look into that!! And I agree with the wine cellar idea instead of the cooler:) I’m going to have to get that custom made,:/

  6. Kelly says:

    Thank you panel! LOVE soaking in all this wisdom!!!


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