Posts in Floral
Growing Pineapple Lilies (Eucomis) in the Garden and for Floral Design

Pineapple lilies sound like some sort of bizarre made-up flower until you see them in person.

But once you see them, you’ll never forget them. Big, strappy, tropical foliage in a large rosette with large flower stalks erupting from the center that beg for you to look at them. They look unreal - as if they were some sort of alien species that had invaded earth.

Best of all? They are actually pretty hardy plants. With good drainage and either mild winters or excellent insulation (through either mulch or snow cover) they will come back year after year, bigger and better and with more stems and flowers.

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How to Root Cuttings

One of the fastest and frankly, easiest ways to expand your garden is to start plants from cuttings.

Most of us are familiar with starting plants from seeds as well as dividing plants. Plants such as swiss chard and sunflowers grow easily and quickly from seed, while plants such as irises and daylilies can be divided in the fall and spring to create new divisions of plants.

But there are some plants, such as mint or oregano or ivy that don’t really grow from seed and can’t really be divided into new plants. How exactly can you propagate them?

The answer is with rooting cuttings from your plants.

Not all plants root easily from cuttings, but there are a few common plants that are incredibly easy to root, including:

  • Catmint (Nepeta)

  • Sedum (Sedum/Hypotelephium)

  • Mint (Mentha)

  • Rosemary (Rosemarinus)

  • Sage (Salvia)

  • Wormwood/Sage (Artemisia)

  • Pachysandra

  • Vinca

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Flower Farming: 8 Easy Perennials to Take Cuttings From (And Grow On for Next Year)

As the season winds down, we’re getting ready for next year.

The funny thing about flower farming is that good flowers can be planted the same season - but great flowers need to be planned out 6-12 months ahead of time.

One of the things we are doing this year is expanding our perennial offerings for florists and wedding design, so we are in the midst of propagating a lot of hardy perennials for production next year.

It might be easier to just buy in plugs, but of course as you know flower farmers aren’t necessarily the most logical people. I actually prefer to propagate our perennials myself because I get a thrill out of seeds starting and cuttings rooting, and it’s cool to be able to say that I propagated hundreds of plants from one original “mother” plant.

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Reducing Plastic Use On Your Flower Farm

As we try to be more conscious stewards of the earth and of our land, we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint by limiting our use of plastic whenever possible.

As flower farmers don’t think we’re quite at the place where we can eliminate plastic entirely - there are some items that just don’t have a good alternative or replacement yet (such as drip line). And so much of what we do involves plastic. Whether it’s irrigation, season extension with tunnels and greenhouses, packaging, seed starting, and so much more, there’s a lot of plastic in our livelihood.

We cannot escape plastic. However, there is a lot that we can do to eliminate the majority of our plastic waste on our flower farm. Here are a couple things that we have done that may inspire you:

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How to Grow Cafe au Lait Dahlias

Inevitably every gardener is going to try growing dahlias at some point in their career. Whether it’s for showing in the local Dahlia society exhibition, cutting for arrangements or enjoying in the garden, dahlias are invaluable for their vigor and of course their amazing flowers.

And if you’re growing dahlias, no doubt you’ll be interested in growing the famous (or infamous depending on your personal opinion!) Cafe au Lait dahlia.

The one dahlia that everyone seems to love - retail customers, floral designers, gardeners, dahlia enthusiasts and casual observers all agree that its a spectacular dahlia. In fact, the only people that seem to dislike Cafe au Lait dahlias are flower farmers for a few very specific reasons - but we’ll get into that later on.

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How to Grow Castor Bean (Ricinus) in the Garden and for Floral Design

Castor Beans are as beautiful as they are deadly

Ricinus communis is a popular plant for British borders and home gardeners over the world. Although four to eight seeds can kill an adult human, there’s a lot to love about this plant.

First and foremost is the fact that they are one of the most coveted and favorite materials for our local florists. Seriously, we sell out of every single stem that we can offer (minus the ones we keep for ourselves of course!) and we can never grow enough.

Secondly, castor beans offer a look and presence in our personal garden that is unrivaled by any other plant. It’s broad leaves offer an exotic and striking look that you can’t really get with most other plants - and the fact that it also has the potential to be so dangerous just adds to its appeal and mystique.

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Planting Fall Perennials for Next Year's Blooms

You see, there are a lot of flowering plants that not only can survive the cold weather, but in fact love it. Peonies for example, need a very cold and wet winter in order to grow big and lush blooms (which can be a problem in our growing zone that tends to be warm and dry during the winter)

Yes, right now is the perfect time to plant these lesser-known flowers. Some, such as delphinium only actually will germinate in cool weather, preferring to sprout during periods of freezes and thaws since the swings in temperature helps to trigger sprouting.

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So You Want to Become a Flower Farmer?

So, you’ve decided that you want to become a flower farmer?

Congratulations! Being a flower farmer is honestly one of the most impactful and wonderful things I ever decided upon in my life.

We had always been avid gardeners and Steven had a background in floral design, but it wasn’t until back in 2013 we realized that there was actually a way to grow enough flowers to supply enough to sell at farmer’s markets and design for weddings.

I’ve learned so much and experienced so much since then that it almost seems like I’ve been flower farming for a lifetime.

It’s not all armloads of dahlias and picking flowers with the sunset behind you though. There’s a lot of downsides and a lot of hard work that flower farming entails - all of the stuff that you can’t see on an Instagram post or from a grand wedding or large arrangement.

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How to Grow Broomcorn in the Garden (and for Floral Design)

Broomcorn is one of our favorite floral materials to grow in the garden and in arrangements, especially in the fall and is also one of our annual favorite grasses to grow!

Broomcorn is not actually a corn but is an ornamental sorghum - distantly related to sugarcane and big bluestem grass interestingly enough.

It usually grows as a single corn-like stalk, soaring upwards above our heads and growing quickly into a towering stalk of strappy foliage and bamboo-like stems, creating a jungle-like effect in the garden.

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The Glory of Zinnia Haageana (Aztec, Jazzy and other Small Zinnias)

When it comes to zinnias, most people think of the large three to four inch zinnias like the Benary Giants, or at least the two inch zinnias like the Oklahoma series - all of the species Zinnia elegans.

Yet, most people don’t know about the tiny single-flowered varieties of the species Zinnia haageana variety that are around half an inch across to one inch at best.

They’re seriously tiny. And each flower is so miniscule with little skinny stems that it would take a lot of them to even fill up a small mason jar. I was never convinced that they would be worth growing, so I had ignored them for the past couple years.

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Yasss Queen Red Lime (and Other Queen Series Zinnias)

If you’ve hung out with me or have read any of the ebooks, you’ll know that I’m a big big fan of the Queen series of zinnias.

A mid-sized zinnia, the Queen series consist of four varieties

  • Queen Red Lime

  • Queen Lime with Blush

  • Queen Lime

  • Queen Lime with Orange

Each of these varieties have a wonderful ombré gradient on their petals, fading from a soft lime green to another color (with the exception of the Queen Lime which is pure soft lime green) which makes them visually incredibly stunning - and when designing with them makes them an excellent flower for bridging between different color spectrums.

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Benary Giant Zinnias: Are They Worth It?

Benary Giant zinnias are the gold standard when it comes to zinnias. Great in form, comes in a variety of colors, and absolutely massive when it comes to their size - a good four feet tall (if not taller) with large 3-4” flowers that are absolutely stunning.

Also known as the Blue Point zinnia (which were specifically bred and marketed as a florist zinnia), the Benary Giants are some of the most commonly grown zinnias for flower farmers.

However, it’s not all great necessarily. My main issue with the Benary Giants is that they’re not consistently double for some of the colors - the Salmon color being the most inconsistent (which of course the salmon colored varieties would be!) and the seed can also be expensive (100 for $6)

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Oklahoma Series: The Only Zinnia Variety You Need to Grow

I’ve noticed a lot of people asking recently about the best or favorite zinnias to grow.

Zinnias are kind of a hot-button topic for most people - even if you hate zinnias and won’t grow them, you’ll have a very definitive reason as to why - but most people, especially flower farmers love zinnias and grow boatloads of them all season long.

However, not all zinnias are created equal (in my opinion at least)

The most popular zinnias for flower farmers seem to be the following:

  • Benary Giant (or Blue Point) series

  • Queen (Queen Red Lime, Queen Lime, Queen Lime with Blush, Queen Lime with Orange, Queen Lime Mix) series

  • Oklahoma series

  • Zinderella series

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Mad About Geums

In the past couple years, we’ve noticed a fairly unknown plant has come into fashion in a very dark horse manner - the geums.

Loved by flower farmers and gardeners alike, it seems to be the IT plant this year, and the interest shows no signs of abating.

Known also by their common name “avens”, geums are in the Rosacea family - subfamily Rosoideae - and are closely related to potentillas as well as fragaria (the former illustrated by its form and fuzzy leaves - the latter by its sepals and foliage).

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Growing Salvias in the Garden (And for Floral Design)

Sages are one of our favorite plants to grow in the garden. They are vigorous, quick-growing, handle extreme heat and cold without flinching, ad have brightly colored blooms on long stems that make for great displays in the garden as well as in floral design.

I think that sage has always had a place in our garden, but it wasn’t until recently that we started appreciating it so readily. Living in New Mexico where salvias get large and shrubby certainly has something to do with it, but I think an awareness of the fondness of salvias in the UK has really helped them to grow on us.

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From the Garden: May 19, 2019

It’s finally the middle of May, and we’re finally starting to see something more than just bulbs and foliage here.

Don’t get me wrong - the daffodils and tulips are one of the best arrivals of the season as they herald the start of the season and promise a long season full of beauty and change.

But it’s not until the spring perennials start blooming that I get excited.

Today we’re enjoying several types of salvia, verbascum, allium, lamb’s ear, grasses and poppy pods. It’s one of my favorite times of the year, since May is full of an explosion of texture, color, and the flowers are fresh and gorgeous. There’s almost too much to enjoy this time of year - it gets a bit difficult to keep up with, but I’m certainly not complaining.

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How to Grow Cosmos for Floral Design

Cosmos are one of those garden plants that everyone seems to have grown at some point. Whether the usual wild pink variety of bipinnatus , the gold and orange sulphureus, or the fancier varieties like the ‘Double Click’ or ‘Cupcake’ series, all gardeners seem to fall in love with cosmos at one point or another.

A very easy plant to grow, cosmos are one of those garden plants that seemingly need little attention in order to thrive. In fact, they really seem to grow the best with neglect!

That’s not to say there’s not an art to growing them - especially if you’re going to be growing them for floral design.

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How to Grow Perfect Dahlias

Dahlias are the quintessential flower. Whether growing in the garden, cut for a vase on the table, or in a flower farmer’s fields to be used in weddings, bouquets and installations, they are quite possibly the most popular and more demanded flower these days.

It used to be that dahlias were relegated to enthusiastic hobbyists, who would carefully pamper and debud their plants for exhibition in the fall. Although impressive, they were only seen as specimen plants to be exhibited at garden centers and for a select intellectual few.

Something changed though. Perhaps it was Martha Stewart (the original flower queen) and her love of dahlias in the garden that led to their re-discovery. Perhaps it was garden enthusiasts like Sarah Raven that reinvigorated the use of dahlias in the garden as not just straight single-flower specimens grown for competitions, but rather for enjoyment and cutting for the vase. Or maybe it was Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm with her photographs of armloads of dreamy dahlias in the Skagit Valley sunset that made the world fall in love with them.

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How to Grow Gorgeous Zinnias (For Floral Design)

There are a wide variety of zinnias available - seemingly for every intent and purpose.

    You have big, giant zinnias like the ‘Benary Giant’ series that can get a good 3-4” across and are perfect double gorgeous blooms in a wide variety of colors. The perfect zinnias for cutting and using in arrangements, they are almost like Gerbera daisies in appearance - fully double in most cases, with those same fluffy outer petals that are almost like a tutu in appearance.

    On the other hand, you also have the ‘Queen’ series. As opposed to the bright and bold colors of the ‘Benary Giant’ series, the ‘Queen’ series are a lesson in subtlety. Coming in shades of muted dusty rose combined with the delicate light green of viburnum and hydrangea petals, these zinnias are unlike the ones that you see in home gardens and in landscapes - they have a beautiful antiqued, heirloom look to them. They also have a great form, creating an almost spherical, perfect shape in some cases.

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How to Grow Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower)

Scabiosa- so named because it was rumored that it could cure mange - is an old European flower that has been grown by gardeners all over the world. It’s also earned the name “pincushion flower” due to the fact that the ends of the stamens look like tiny white pinheads that have been sunken into a velvety, fluffy center of a flower.

Scabiosa are one of the flowers that we love to grow because of their ease of growth, ease of care, and the character that their stems bring to any arrangement. The same swoops and curls and swirls that poppies or ranunculus display with their stems are the shapes and motion that scabiosa can lend to an arrangement.

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