Kentucky Derby Style: How to Make a Julep Cup Rose Arrangement

I’m one of those people that love flowers. Love ’em so much. I don’t care that they are going to die in a few days, I don’t care that they can be a little expensive. I love them. But I’m also not someone who loves an over-the-top arrangement, although I can see the beauty in them. Give me a simple, beautiful small arrangement any day. It’s truly one of life’s simple pleasures.

One of life’s less than simple, but totally worth it pleasures is a day at the Kentucky Derby. Not everyone can go to the track but everyone can celebrate the first Saturday in May – especially since it falls on Cinco de Mayo this year. Even if it’s just having some friends over for mint juleps and make some friendly wagers, you should certainly celebrate. If you’re not sure when the races start – live TV coverage kicks off on NBC at 2:30 pmΒ ET and the Run for the Roses is around 6:30. Plenty of time to celebrate a sunny Saturday.Β Don’t forget to tune in early, the race is only two minutes and you don’t want to miss it.

If you’re hosting, you’re going to want to incorporate one of the signatures of the race – roses. And while I am an enthusiast, I am no expert when it comes to making arrangements so Lauren from Blooms Boutique gave me some pro tips on how to make these festive julep cup arrangements in five simple steps. Plus, I’ve used her tips up my game with grocery store flowers and have been pleasantly surprised with the results so be sure to read all the way through.

Julep Cup Rose Arrangements
  • Step 1: Assemble the troops. Here’s what you’ll need:
    • Julep Cups
    • 4-5 red roses per arrangement
    • Greenery – you can use any that’s available at your local market or flower shop.
      Mint leaves make for an especially festive arrangement but use anything that you love.
    • Strong Scissors

  • Step Two: Lay the Groundwork
    • Layer each julep cup with a generous base of greenery.
    • It may seem like too much but it will make it look fuller. Plus it gives it a much more professional, intentional look.
  • Step Three: Trim the Roses
    • Pull off all the leaves from each rose so that all you’re left with is the flower.
    • Lauren had this fancy tool that sheared them all right off, which I made a mental note to find and buy. But for those of us without all the tools of the trade – you can just pull them off.
    • She recommends doing this for all arrangements with long stem roses. For other flowers, she just recommends cutting off all the leaves that would be in or close to the water line.


  • Step Four: Remove One Layer of Petals and Fluff
    • So this was the tip that really made me go “Oh, so that’s how you get it looking so good!”
    • Pull off the outer layers of the rose to remove any defects and opens up the flower to give it a fuller look

  • Step Five: Measure and Place
    • Measure each rose to ensure you have the right height.
    • Laura recommended measuring each individually since you may want the ones in the middle to be a bit higher than those along the sides.
    • Then simple place the flowers, starting along the edges and filling in the middle.

Voila! Flower arranging for dummies!

Okay, so I know this may seem basic but these simple tips will help you with all arrangements, not just those for this Saturday’s festivities. If you’re heading to a friend’s house to watch the races, these would make for a very thoughtful and super simple hostess gift. Or you can just make a few and sprinkle them through the house. I suggest putting one on your bar cart or station to get guests in the mint julep making mood. They’re going to want one in hand when they play “My Old Kentucky Home” right before the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports.

Don’t forget to tune in for live coverage of the Kentucky Derby beginning at 2:30pm ET Saturday May 5th on NBC. Even if you have no idea any of the horses running, if you tune in early enough you’ll feel like an expert (okay maybe not an expert, but you’ll definitely have picked a favorite) by the call to post.


Thanks so much to NBC for sponsoring this post. All thoughts, opinions and random ramblings are, as always, my own.

Photos by Tabitha Booth

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