by Denise McCormack – 20 September 2022
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floral knife fixed blade
OASIS Florist Knife

Whether you are just getting started, a floral enthusiasts or an experienced professional the floral knife is an indispensable tool for a florist / floral designer, but; as with all tools there is a right and wrong way to use them.

In this article we will talk about why and when you should use a floral knife, the correct way to use a floral knife, what type of knife is right for you and how to care for your floral knife. I am also going to suggest alternative tools if you are not comfortable yet using a floral knife.

Why Use a FLORAL Knife

We spend time learning how to create beautiful arrangements, we read about design principles, structure, colour shape, and different floral attributes but many of us never get around to learning how to use a floral knife properly or use one at all.

However , once you do learn how to use this versatile tool:

  • It will make designing easier.
  • It will enhance the life of your vase.
  • Increase the length of time your flowers remain beautiful and useable.

Characteristics OF A Floral Knife

Floral knives or Cut Flower knives as they are also knows have a blade of about 2–3 inches (5.0–7.6 cm) in length. One side of the blade is sharpened, while the other side remains unsharpened. This is an important feature because the unsharpened side of the blade is held against the fingers. A double-edged knife is unsafe and not appropriate for floral use. Many designers prefer a folding knife, which makes the tool easy to carry in a pocket or tool kit. Some cut-flower knives have hooked tips and are preferred by some, but results are about the same.

A floral knife must be sharp; and should only be used to cut soft stems. Never use it to cut through Styrofoam or polystyrene for example as this will quickly the dull blade.  

The Right Way To Use A Floral Knife

As I have mentioned already a floral knife is an essential tool. They are versatile, will last a long time if correctly looked after, and recognised as one of the “Essential 7 Tools”, but it is surprising how many people do not know when to use a floral knife and how to use one properly and safely.

Ok fair enough when being handed a razor-sharp blade some of us do become a little bit nervous, after all no one want to possibly cut them self, but once your learn how to use a floral knife correctly you will discover just how easy they are to use, how safe and dare I say much quicker. There is a well-used phase “use the right tool for the job”.

Cutting Fresh Flower Stems with a Knife

Step 1 – Remove any foliage that may fall below the water line in a floral container. They contribute to the bacterial content of water.

Step 2 – If you are right-handed, hold the flower stem in your left hand, underhanded. If you are left-handed, hold the flower stem in your right hand, underhanded; reverse the instructions that follow.

Step 3 – Hold the floral knife low in your right hand. Keep your right hand relatively rigid. Hold your thumb parallel to the knife, not allowing it to touch or cross the blade. The correct positioning of the fingers on your right hand appears like a “thumbs up” sign.

Step 4 – Use your left hand, not your right, to pull the flower stem through the blade. Again, the right hand, which holds the knife, stays somewhat rigid. The left hand will pull the cut flower stem through the blade.

Problems and Snags

When you are learning to use a floral knife, make sure not to jerk the flower stem through the blade. Some stems are weak, and flower heads can be snapped from the stem. It is easy to lose track of the bloom end of the stem while concentrating on the lower area you’re cutting. You may accidentally jab the delicate flower into a wall or other surface. These mistakes sometimes happen when designers are learning proper stem-cutting techniques. However, errors are a valuable part of learning to cut flowers. You can always make a boutonniere, corsage, or floating-flower design from broken flower heads.

Be sure to draw the stem through the knife blade; don’t bend it over the blade until the stem snaps and breaks.

This leaves a ragged cut that will not readily stay in contact with fresh-flower foam mechanics. To avoid cuts, always keep your thumb about an inch from the blade.

Cut on an Angle

There are two reasons why it is best to get in the habit of cutting on an angle. The first is that the surface area of the cut end will always remain open to water uptake. Sometimes, many flowers are placed in   bucket; so many that, instead of lying at an angle, they stand upright, in parallel lines. If stems are cut bluntly, there is a chance that the end will be positioned squarely on the bottom of the bucket, blocking water uptake.

Another reason for making angled cuts is that they lodge better into fresh floral foams. Once floral designs are created, they are almost always transported. Their journey may be from a kitchen counter to a dining room table, or the design may be carried in a delivery truck across state lines. A sharp, angled cut can be driven deeply into floral foam and stay put.

The Screw Driver Cut

Some cut-flower stems and branches are heavier and larger than others. Due to their weight and placement angle, stems can turn in the floral foam, away from the position you intended. A way to alleviate this problem is to cut the stem as instructed above, then rotate the stem 180 degrees and repeat the cut. This two-sided cut resembles a flat-head screwdriver. Once driven into the floral foam, the shape of the cut end of the stem keeps it from turning.


When it comes to practical things such as using a knife, I think watching a professional demonstration is always best way to start, then practice and then watch the demonstration again. In following video, floral designer, John McDonald demonstrates how to hold and cut stems properly with a floral knife. After watching the video and a bit of practice you will be cutting flowers like a professional every time.

There are two things to remember whenever you are cutting flowers with a knife.

  1. Hold the knife steady and pull through with your arm.
  2. Always cut with a sharp blade.

Remember practice is also about making mistakes, so do not worry if you break off a flower head or two or crimp a few stems it is all part of the learning process, practice makes perfect as they say.

by Denise McCormack – 20 September 2022