Top Flower Picks for Hot Summer Weddings
The summer of 2012 was a scorcher in Southwestern Ontario. As a florist, I’m always in tune to the season, what’s available, and which flowers have staying power for weddings and events. Most brides begin choosing their flowers in winter or early spring, when the heat and humidity of July and August are a distant memory. Many varieties of flowers, both locally grown and imported are available year-round, but not all stand up to the hottest days.
Here are some of my top picks for heat-busting blooms;
Orchids, especially cymbidium are excellent choices for bouquets and corsages. They are often removed from their stems and wired into designs, and are one of the best performers in hot temps. White orchids are popular for modern classic bouquets, but shades of burgundy, green, yellow, and rust are right at home in garden-style and rustic bouquets. Smaller Mokara orchids in pink, yellow or orange last well, and are great additions to fun, mixed bouquets, or several can be bound together for a stunning mono-bouquet.
Callas. The large white flute shaped calla was long a favourite for arm bouquets and tall arrangements, but “mini” varieties have taken over, and are hugely popular both as a cut flower, and as a wedding flower. They are often used solo in bouquets for a clean, modern look, but also add interest to garden bouquets as well. Deep eggplant and two-toned ivory and purple varieties are wonderful with many purple themes, while mango and rust shades add drama to late summer and fall bouquets.
Roses. Whether the classic tea rose, or the current star on the wedding scene, garden roses, either are great choices for summer. The newest varieties offer sturdy stems, and a gorgeous array of colours to suite any colour palette. Spray roses, which have several smaller blooms on a stem, come in wonderful colours, and when combined with larger roses, add a garden feel to bouquets.
Seasonal, locally grown flowers; Of course! Southwestern Ontario is blessed with tons of beautiful flowers that are at their peak from late July until early frost. Dahlias, zinnias,sunflowers, everlastings such as globe and hanging amaranthus, and hens and chicks are just some of the heat busters that new favourites for summer bouquets
Some blooms to avoid;
Tulips, freesia, iris, and lilies are my top flowers to avoid in the heat Bulb flowers are at their peak in spring, and although they are readily available in summer, they struggle in hot conditions. Lilies fare the best, but if they are stressed, they will quickly wilt. The large petals of lilies also break or bruise easily, and may be best suited to arrangements rather than bouquets.
In general, flowers that have few petals, should be used with care, as flaws, wilting and missing petals are quite obvious. You want perfection for pictures! Flowers with many petals, such as roses, and hydrangeas (yes, hydrangeas!), when properly conditioned, and are at their peak, are great choices because of their density. Even when they begin to feel a bit of stress, it will take much longer before it is noticeable.
There is no way to absolutely guarantee how flowers will hold up in extreme heat. Keeping them out of direct sun, and in air conditioning as much as possible will be a big help to them, as will misting throughout the day (especially hydrangeas).
When talking with your florist, give them your dream list of flowers, then let them guide you along for perfect blooms on your wedding day.
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Three Plant Picks for Non-green Thumbs
So, now there’s a device that can be inserted into the soil of your plants, and it will send a tweet when it’s time for watering. The leaf-shaped gadget is available for $100. If you need a $100 gadget to tell you when to water, maybe you should re-think your plants. Here are some easy-care – if you kill these – just give up, suggestions;
This will survive just about anything. Likes to be ignored. Shove it in a dark corner, or a sunny window, and it’s happy. Throw a little water on it, when you think of it. It’s slow growing, so re-potting isn’t a worry. It can be easily divided into smaller plants, or stretched out into a window box for a more modern display.
A popular plant for hanging baskets, but is nicer when kept compact, and can be purchased as a small plant and set on a desk or table. There are several varieties, but the nicest, hippest one is limelight, a bright shade of lime green. They tolerate sun and shade, and put up with a willy-nilly watering approach, and are great air cleaners. Don’t be tempted to train it to go across the ceiling or window frames. Please. Don’t.
Yes, orchids. Phalaenopsis, or the butterfly orchid is the most prevalent and is the easiest to care for. And by care for, I mean ignore. Place in a bright spot, out of direct sun, and ignore. Sure, look at it and admire it’s elegant blooms, and marvel that they’ve lasted for 2 or 3 months, but please don’t over water it. Orchids typically grow out of tree trunks, or anchor themselves to the side of a cliff, and take moisture from the air, rather than their roots.
If you feel inclined to give lots of TLC, misting is best and this can be done daily. Orchids are usually double-potted, meaning they are planted in plastic grower pot, and then set into a more decorative one. Hold the plant in the grower insert over the sink, and let the water run through, no more than once a week. Usually, I don’t bother with that, and just dribble small amounts of water on top of the roots. Never let it sit in water, and always make sure that the moss or mulch it’s planted in is a little dry between watering. Be sure to purchase orchids from plant professionals who know how to take care of them. Grocery stores and other mass retailers carry them at cheap prices, but the care they receive , length of time on the shelf, or how they are packed when you take them home can mean a dead orchid a week later. Invest in the best and you’ll love your blooms for months.
There’s a pattern in the care tips of the plant suggestions; don’t kill them with kindness. Frankly, most plants die from over-watering, which causes the roots to rot, rather than from under watering. Improper lighting is also a factor. Few plants can tolerate full, direct sun, so make sure they’re not getting a sunburn.
Plants to avoid
This is my hit list of problem plants.
Any ivy. They are spider-mite magnets. Without constant attention, and misting and watering, and removal of dead leaves, they quickly become a haven for the tiny web builders that suck the life out of plants, leaf by leaf.
See ivy plants.
A favourite for business gifts. They usually contain ivy AND deifenbachia. If you manage to find a planter that doesn’t contain these, chances are that the plants are still incompatible, and will slowly die, one by one. If they manage to live for a few months, they will need to be separated and re-potted, as one of them will start to take over, and it will start look unruly and messy. Send an orchid.
And now, if you’ll excuse, me, the pothos is winding it’s way toward the ceiling fixture, and needs to be stopped.
Getting More Floral Bang for Your Buck
I was inspired by this arrangement, thrown together from some of my left-overs, in time for a Boxing Day gathering. The stars of the show are the amaryllis, which were purchased for a wedding that took place on December 17th, a full week before this was created! Not only are the amaryllis more than a week old, blooms that had opened earlier were plucked off and used for the Bridesmaids’ bouquets. In other words, only half of the stems are present, and they were purchased 13 days before this photo was taken! The other flowers are parrot tulips, quite a bit larger and a bit more expensive than regular tulips, but their presence speaks volumes.
So, would you pay $12-$15 for a stem of amaryllis? Before you gasp and say “I would never pay that for a single stem”, consider the size of the flowers, 10-12 inches across when fully open, and the longevity. They are what I call investment flowers.
Cheap flowers are readily available, and easy to buy. Carnations and roses are packaged by the dozen, and are often the same price as our lovely amaryllis. But do they have the same value or visual impact? Those bunches of carnations and roses are often loss-leaders, and are almost always of a lower grade, meaning that the blooms are smaller, and the varieties are the most basic. No stars here, just a cheap and cheerful mass, destined to be arranged hap hazzardly with the filler greens that came with them.
Keep it Simple
Talking with everyday consumers and brides, a frequent comment is “but they’re expensive, aren’t they?”, usually in reference to a flower that is either exotic, such as an orchid, or something with a very large bloom, such as hydrangea. Well, they may cost more per stem than another flower, but it takes several smaller flowers to make up the volume and impact of a single hydrangea. For weddings, the look and longevity of a just a few, carefully used orchids more than justify their cost, compared to the number of smaller, cheaper flowers that it will take to achieve the same size and beauty of bouquet. Having a dinner party? You can try to make something out of a mixed bouquet, with a stem of this, and 2 stems of that, some sort of tall, pokey flower, and some airy, piddly fern, or you can you use one or 2 hydrangeas for a simple, elegant effect. Cut. Plop. Fabulous. The same with a gorgeous stem of amaryllis, or a beautiful stem of orchids.
Dress to Impress
For my corporate clients, I will always suggest a single over-sized, attention-getting tropical flower, like a heliconia, paired with a chunky stem of bamboo, and a large, shiny leaf, over several small flowers for maximum impact. One 12- 15 inch stunner in red or orange beats out a few of this and that. Hands down. Lasts longer too.
I Hate Yellow Roses
At least I used to. Maybe you’re not a fan either, of any roses. Most people I know who say they don’t like roses, or that they don’t last very long, have only purchased or received the everyday, run of the mill types. The ones usually carried by grocery stores, discount retailers, and old-school flower shops. They are varieties that are plentiful, and are usually very basic colours. When, and if, they open, they are smaller, and not very interesting. They are the “B” varieties, and I’m not a fan of most of them. These are not what I use in weddings, or sell to my customers, because they often have low petal counts and smaller heads,and so, once again, they have no impact, no “wow” factor. I’d rather hear “oh my gosh, LOOK at that rose”, than, “oh, roses…”. There are yellow roses to die for! Large, ruffly blooms with hints of green or cherry red. And the same for peach and pink varieties. The rose, revisited. Just a couple glamour beauties are far more stunning than a whole dozen of whatevers. And skip the baby’s breath. Unless you have a whole bunch of it. In a single vase. But that’s another topic.
Oh, and the amaryllis? It’s now day 16, and 3 out 4 blooms are still with me. That’s what I call an investment flower.