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Angie

Featured Flower-Calla Lilies

May is the month that you should start seeing locally grown calla lilies.  This is a favorite flower of many, including myself.  Although, I find that most people either love them or hate them.  If they hate them, it is typically because they associate them with funerals!  In my backyard I have the black callas, as in this picture, plus yellow, pink, white and mango (orange/yellow/rust).  Callas do not have a scent which makes them ideal for people with allergies!  There are standard callas (head size up to 6 inches with stem lengths from about 20″ to 48″) and mini callas (head size of 1-3 inches with stem lengths of about 8 – 20 inches).

Technically, calla lilies are not part of the LILY family, despite the name.  They are part of the Araceae (arum) family, which includes antherium, caladium, philodendron, dieffenbachia, spathiphyllum, aglaonema and arisaema.

Calla stems are smooth and leafless.  The fleshy spike in the center of the calla is called a spadix.  The actual flowers are the “bumps” on the spadix!  Callas come in so many colors, including the most common white, green and white (Green Goddess) and blush pink in the standard sizes.  In the mini sizes there are more colors to choose from including white, black, purple, pink, yellow, red, orange, lavender and bi-colors.  The color intensity will vary by the growing conditions.  So when ordering a color, think in terms of a color range.

Next time, I’ll be talking more about the care of your calla lilies after you get them home.  I’ll be giving you some tips for their care and for preparing them for whatever arrangement you are creating.  And don’t forget to check out our Members Area and our Products page for some great ideas on how to create beautiful arrangements with Calla Lilies.

Featured Flower-Peony

May is the month that you should start seeing locally grown PEONY.  This is a favorite flower of many, including myself.  In fact, I just cut a bouquet from my yard…they are so pretty and have such a delicate scent.  I just love these flowers.

Technically, there are 33 species of peony, but only two are commonly grown for cut flowers.  They are also grown in a variety of colors including various shades of pink, purple, red, salmon, apricot, white, ivory/cream, yellow and bi-colors.  The most common colors available are the various shades of pink and white.  I have NEVER seen a purple peony.  The flower forms include single, double, semidouble, Japanese (single with large yellow centers) and anemone (single with powder-puff centers).  The double flower variety is the most common as cut flowers in the United States.

Peony are grown around the world and are typically available from April through August, with peak season hitting around April, May and June.  Most white varieties bloom early in the season.

Peony require the typical processing, meaning when they arrive, give them a fresh cut, dip in hydrating solution and allow to sit for at least two hours before arranging with them.  It is best to buy peony when they are puffy, not open yet.  Watch out for overly tight buds, they probably won’t open for you.

Freshness Quick Tips-What to look for When Buying

Last week I talked about flower vase life.  Today, I want to share with you some tips about what to look for when buying your flowers to insure that your creation stays beautiful for as long as possible.   Some of the top things to look for when making sure you have selected the freshest flowers are:

  • Leaves and petals that are upright and plump
  • Flower buds in color and blooms that are not fully opened
  • Clean, green leaves
  • Stems and petals that are not broken or brusied in any way
  • Make sure that the water the stems are sitting in is fresh and clear
  • Check to make sure that the ends of the stems are white or green and look freshly cut

Another tip to keep in mind when buying flowers, as tempting as it is to purchase the bouquets outside of a store, in order to get the freshest flowers possible, make your purchase from the stock inside.  Flowers are affected by heat, sunlight and car exhaust which will shorten their life, even if they pass all visual tests I listed above.

 

 

What Flowers Will Last the Longest?

When creating a floral arrangement, you need to make sure that you use flowers that have a similar ‘Vase life’  so that you don’t have uneven aging in your arrangement.

Carnations and Chrysanthemums have a vase life of between one and 2 weeks.  Lisianthus also have a good vase life, between 7 and 10 days.  One of the greens that you could couple these with would be Bells of Ireland which also last between 7-10 days.

Iris however tend to be short lived, only 3-5 days of vase life.  They usually arrive in tight buds and quickly open.  Combining them with lilies or tulips will give you a good balanced arrangement.  Make sure that the vase stays full and bacteria free. Amemone is another short vase life flower, generally lasting vrom 3-5 days.  These lovely delicate flowers should be handled very carefully when being recut.

Some flowers, such as Callas, Alstroemeria and Dasies are particulary thirst flowers so the you will need to make sure to keep the water levels in these vases high at all times.

And all cut flowers will do well with floral food which maintains the beauty of the arrangements and can sometimes help add an extra day or so to some of the more short vase life flowers.  Floral food is just one of the many products I will be offering for sale here at Flower Arranging 101 in just a few short weeks.  So check back often as we expand our product line to provide you with all the tools you could possible need to create the lovely arrangements I am sharing with you here.

Getting the Most Vase Life From Your Flowers

I get questions from time to time from my customers and from my readers about how to get their floral arrangements to last as long as possible.  Each flower has a particular vase life, like a product shelf life, but there are a lot of things that can be done to extend that and to make sure that your fresh flower arrangements stay as beautiful as possible for as long as possible.

Naturally, always make sure that you get your flowers on the first possible day after they have been cut.  Flowers start to age the moment the stems are cut.   Depending on the flowers you are using in your arrangements, some of them may have come a long way to your local market.  One of the best things you can do is find out when your favorite places to buy flowers gets their deliveries and then shop for what you want on that day.  Most supermarkets, and floral vendors will mark flowers down as they are getting near the end of their vase life.  That is a good fact to keep in mind if you are looking for flowers for a long lasting arrangement.

Adding a floral preservative and changing the water frequently in your vases will also improve vase life.  One of the best things you can do is make sure to re-cut your blooms once you get the home with a good pair of floral shears.  This will insure that the stems can easily take up water.   And starting very shortly, you will be able to not only purchase floral shears but a host of other fantastic products directly from us here at Flowerarranging101.tv to help you create the projects I have already shared with you here as well as anything your imagination can come up with.

I’ll be sharing other tips and tricks like this over the next few blog entries, including letting you know what are good tools to use as well as what flowers will last the longest.  And keep watching our products page for lots of great new additions to help you create your own beautiful flower arrangements.

 

Blooms of Spring-Cornflowers

This lovely flower is a member of the Aster family and originated in Europe where they grow in corn and grain fields.  Originally a wild flower, the Cornflower has now become cultivated and is a beautiful addition to any arrangement.

One of the few true blue flowers, Cornflowers also come in shades of white red, pink mauve and even polka dotted.  But the blue variety remains the most popular for arrangements and centerpieces.  The long sturdy stems make the cornflower a very popular medium to tall backdrop for floral arrangements.  This is also one of the few edible flowers–did you know that a brand of Russian vodka uses cornflowers to not only add a lovely blue color to the liquor but a spicy flavor as well?   Cornflowers also find their way into medicinal gardens and was once as an eye wash and can be steeped and used as a facial steam.

Cornflowers also make a great choice for a dried flower arrangement or placed in a silica gel for craft projects.  Soaking them in water creates a gorgeous, although temporary blue dye for fabrics as well.

 

Fragrant Sweet Peas

The lovely and fragrant Sweet Pea is a flower that is closely associated with April. Sweet Peas have a wide variety of meaning as far as the language of flowers goes, but they are most often used as a flower of thank you or to say farewell or adieu. The sweet pea has been referred to by some as the Queen of the Annuals and is quite the favorite in traditional gardens and arrangements. This popular little flower was cultivated in England starting around the 17th century and some of those first varieties are still in existence today.

Sweet Peas come in over 250 varieties, both as annuals and perennials. Some of the newer varieties have been bred to increase the size of the blooms, but unfortunately that has resulted in gorgeous flowers with very little scent. Sweet peas can up to 6 feet tall although most average 1-5 feet. These climbing plants do well on supporting structures such trellises.

The delicate perfume of sweet peas combined with the variety of colors available made this flower the floral sensation of the Victorian era. Sweet peas are usually found in red, pink, blue, white and lavender.   They are the perfect choice if you are creating a centerpiece, corsage or bouonniere with an old fashioned flavor.

Are there really Black Flowers?

Okay, so are there really black flowers?  Well, not really…the terminology “black flowers” is used loosely to refer to the darkest blooms and artificially dyed flowers. If you look closely at flowers called black, you’ll usually see that “black flowers” are such a deep purple/burgundy that they just appear black. Chocolate cosmos, which are really a dark chocolate brown, are sometimes called black flowers.  The thing is, depending upon how and when you use these flowers, they can look black.

Dark purple carnations, Black Lilies, Dark Burgundy Dahlia,Chocolate Cosmos, Dark burgundy mini calla, and dark purple tulips.  These flowers are the closest to black that I am aware of.  However, I noticed at fiftyflowers.com they have some additional black flowers, such as the black vanda orchid and burgundy dendrobium orchid…neither of which I have ever seen or even heard of before writing this article.  Below are two examples of tinted flowers.

 

 

There are a few more varieties of black flowers and foliages. I have had black hollyhocks and black iris in a previous backyard.  I have used black ti leaves and agonis greenery, which is a very dark burgundy color.

Preparing Roses for Arranging

Last week I talked about how to chose great roses and this week I want to talk to you about how to get them ready to create your arrangement.

To process roses you want to strip all the foliage that will fall below the water line.  I like to remove ALL the thorns as well.  You really only have to remove the thorns below the water level, but trust me, you will be handling the roses above the water line and you don’t want to poke yourself with the thorns.  Some varieties of roses have really tiny almost clear thorns on the top third of the stems and that is typically where I am handling them.  Those micro thorns will get into your hands and fingers and wreak havoc, because you can’t see them to get them out.  I normally will use a florist’s knife and gently scratch those tiny thorns off the stems!

Next you want to give the roses a fresh cut, cut at least an inch off the stem length and cut at the biggest angle you can cut.  Make sure you are using really sharp sheers or knife.  You do NOT want to damage the stem with clippers that can’t make a clean cut.  The bigger the cut you can make, the more drinking surface you are giving the rose.  Roses need to drink water and any obstruction in the stem will disallow the water to get all the way up to the head which will cause bent heads.  Even an air bubble will cause the bent heads and roses are particularly vulnerable to this problem.  There are many professionals who believe that roses should only be cut under water, because when you cut underwater there can be no air bubbles getting into the stem.
If you use a rose stripper, which I totally recommend, make sure you do not tear or scrape the skin of the stem, because this allows microorganisms (bacteria) to get into the stem and will impede the flowers ability to get that good drink of water it needs.

It is absolutely BEST to dip each rose stem into a dipping solution of a hydrating liquid before you put them in a bucket or vase with flower preservative.  I don’t know of the hydrating liquids being sold at a retail level.   But the good news is, we are in the process of expanding our online store and I plan on offering this product right here at www.flowerarranging101.tv!  So keep checking back, we hope to have our new products up and available for your use in the near future.

Make sure when you transfer your roses to a bucket or vase that it is a clean bucket or vase.  I use Clorox Clean Up to wash all my buckets and vases.  A watered down clorox solution is fine too.  You just need to be sure that you are killing any bacteria in the bucket/vase.

If you are not going to use your roses right away, the idea situation is to process them (remove thorns/foliage, give fresh cut and dip in hydrating solution) and then place the roses into a bucket of tepid (luke warm) water for about two hours.  After that, it is best to put the roses into a refrigerator for at least another two hours (ideal temperature is 33-35 degrees).  After that, do all the arranging your heart desires with your roses.

Rose Tips and Pointers

Have you ever seen somebody kind of pinching the rose heads….I do it sometimes….it is a way to see how firm the roses are….generally, the firmer they are, the fresher they are…..but NOT ALWAYS true.  Some rose varieties are just softer because of the petal counts or the way the petals open.  A rose that comes to mind is a POLO rose.   It is a white rose that opens up like an old fashioned rose, even though it technically is not an old fashioned rose.  Those rose heads will typically be softer when you pinch them.  They also are not a bright white.  The picture above contains POLO roses.

Another soft rose is an Osiana, which is a beautiful shade of peach.  It doesn’t have a super big petal count and therefore is typically softer to the pinch than other roses.  The Osiana rose is the rose on the right below this post.

Besides the pinch test, there are other things to look for when buying roses.  The stems should look and feel straight and strong, as opposed to limp and weak.  The heads should be upright with no drooping petals.  The foliage should not be yellowing or falling off.  You’ll also want to be sure they don’t show signs of insect problems or fungal disease.  If you see anything on the stem or just below the flower head that looks like gray mold…don’t buy the roses!

Next week,  I have more Rose tips and pointers for what to do after you get your lovely roses home!  See you then.

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