When I first started growing flowers, like most people, I was completely enamored with all the beautiful blooms. I would go out into my garden and cut loads of flowers in different colors and drop them all in a jar. Voila! Perfect!
But eventually, something didn’t seem quite right. Why did my homemade bouquets look so… well, homemade? I wanted to make them look classier, a bit more polished looking.
That is when I discovered the importance of FOLIAGE.
While out cutting flowers one day, I noticed all the sage growing in my herb garden. I clipped a few stems, added them to the flowers and WOW!!! The sage provided a wonderful backdrop to highlight all the blooms and I began to realize that foliage might even be MORE important than flowers!
At my U-Pick Flower Garden, I often have visitors come up with their flowers and say “Help! I feel like I’m missing something.” I lead them over to my beds of foliage, cut a few stems for them and watch their eyes light up with joy as they see what a difference it makes!
Early on, I was advised that half of my cutting garden should be foliage. That seemed pretty extreme to me and I thought I knew better than the experts.
Silly me. That first season, I was always scrambling for more foliage. Since then, I’ve made it a point to grow WAY more foliage each season. I’ve now reached the point where I get more excited about foliage than I do about the blooms!
I hope when you’ve finished reading this blog post, you’ll feel the same way… or at least have a new appreciation for all that luscious greenery!
Anatomy of a Bouquet/Arrangement
To achieve a full, lush, professional looking arrangement, it’s helpful to pay attention to the 3 main parts:
Focal: The center of attention, usually 1-3 main blooms. The rest of the arrangement is built upon the focal flowers.
Filler: The majority of the arrangement. These smaller flowers/plants compliment the focal flowers.
Foliage: The backbone/foundation of the arrangement. Provides structure, mass and enhances the flowers.
Here’s an example below….
Filler: Ammi, Celosia, Cosmos, Statice
Foliage: Lemon Bee Balm, Scented Geranium
See how the foliage and filler really compliment the focal flower?
Here is a list of some of the foliage we grow at Three Acre Farm to get you inspired!
Every spring during planting season, I walk past my asparagus bed about 18 million times a day and think “I really need to harvest that asparagus!” And then I don’t. And then the asparagus spears transform into these huge towering ferns… that actually look awesome bouquets! It makes me feel not quite so bad about missing asparagus season… again. ;)
Basil makes a wonderful, long lasting foliage if cut at the proper stage and time of day. Be sure to cut it after the stems have become “woody” and cut very early in the day or in the late evening (coolest parts of the day). Basil cut in the heat of the day will wilt almost immediately and has a hard time recovering. “Mrs. Burn’s Lemon” is delightfully scented and a lovely lime green. “Amoratto” is a beautiful mixture of dark green/violet.
Bells of Ireland
One of my favorite foliages! Harvest when you see the tiny white flowers inside the “bells” begin to open up.
If you have blackberry plants, they can do double duty as a fruit and foliage plant. Double points if you grow “thornless” blackberries, like I do ;)
When this is in season, I start every single bouquet with a stem of Bupleurum. The wiry, sturdy stems are the perfect base for weaving other flowers into. The bright cheery lime green color compliments nearly every color scheme.
Perhaps Dill belongs in the “filler” category, but I wanted to mention it because it’s so fantastic. Allow the head to shed the little yellow flowers and wait until they form bright green seed pods. They truly sparkle in bouquets!
I grew this for the first time this year… and I’m torn. The foliage is STUNNING and everyone swoons over it. But…. I feel like I need to wear a hazmat suit while harvesting it. The stems leak sticky white sap that irritates skin. And can cause major eye irritation. And it gets SUPER wilty if I cut if after the sun is up. Not sure if I’ll grow it again.
Yes, this is the same plant you get “flax seed” from. The plant sends up little blue flowers, but I wait until those are gone and harvest the seed pods instead. They look so sparkly and playful in bouquets!
Frosted Explosion/Sprinkles Grass
This grass is magical. A few stems here and there, and your bouquet shimmers.
We grow Concord grapes in the garden for eating/juice…. but the foliage is beautiful too! It looks lovely with the fall blooming flowers.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
A member of the mint family, this stuff will spread like crazy. The good news is it smells AMAZING and you can dry the leaves to make tea. Not so bad after all! Wait until the stems are “woody” and firm before cutting, and cut only in the cool of the day.
Lemon Bee Balm (Monarda citriodora)
This is a fun looking plant that can double as a flower or foliage. The gray/green/pink color scheme looks great with almost anything. It has a tendency to wilt, so harvest in the cool of the day and wait until the stems are “woody” and firm.
This dainty, delicate looking vine is so much fun. The little lantern-like seed pods are adorable, playful and festive. Inside each seed pod are 3 round seeds with hearts on them. No joke! “Love-in-a-Puff” indeed! The tiny white flowers are adored by pollinators.
Mint spreads like CRAZY, so be forewarned…. But it’s lovely in bouquets… and mojitos ;) “Apple Mint” is a great variety for cut flower use.
Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum pilosum)
Apparently there are other types of Mountain Mint that flower farmers swear by… but I planted the wrong kind. Ha! Anyway, I’m glad I made the mistake. I adore this Mountain Mint. It smells fantastic, doesn’t spread aggressively like regular mint, and the stems form beautiful flowers later in the season. A winner in my book!
When I first started flower farming, I asked a florist what was her favorite foliage to work with. Without hesitation, she said “Ninebark. Plant as many as you can. They are AMAZING.” She was right. Ninebark is actually a large shrub, so you’ll have to find one at your local plant nursery. Be sure to not cut more than ⅓ of the plant each season. “Autumn Jubilee” is my favorite.
This is actually a type of spinach. Instead of harvesting the greens, allow the plant to “bolt” and go to seed. The seed pods look like glitter in bouquets!
Oregano looks unassuming until it forms it’s lovely little while flowers later in the season. They look fantastic in bouquets and add a nice herbal scent.
These “weedy” looking plants form fun, playful looking seed pods that add great textural interest to bouquets. They can also be dried! This is a “once and done” plant - you get one stem per plant.
The more sophisticated cousin of Penny Cress, Persian Cress looks elegant and sparkly in bouquets. They grow fast and it’s best to plant/sprinkle more seeds every week for a continued harvest.
I’ve grown Dusty Miller for years now, but can never seem to get it to grow tall enough to use in bouquets. I’m so glad I found “Silver Shield” Plectranthus instead! The stems easily get 18-24” long and they hold up well (over 2 weeks!) if harvested in the cool of the day and when the stems are more mature. The beautiful silver-green color is fantastic!
Regular old garden sage is a lovely plant to work with. In the spring, they send up beautiful violet blooms. If you cut the plants back after blooming, they will reward you with gorgeous silver-gray foliage. Cut in the cool of the day and when the stems are “woody”.
Hands down, Scented Geranium is the MVP on my farm. People are always surprised when I show it to them because it looks so unassuming…. But add just one stem to a bouquet and WOW! That’s exactly what it needed.
Most flowers have no scent and that is a real bummer. So, instead, I always try to add some scented foliage to the bouquet to delight the senses. Scented Geranium plants come in a HUGE variety of scents. My favorites are “Attar of Rose” (rose scented), “Orange Fizz” (orange scented - for real!) and “Sweet Mimosa” (earthy, floral scent).
Scented Geranium is grown via cuttings, not seed, so you’ll need to buy a plant at a nursery.
This culinary herb widely used in Japanese culture also looks beautiful in the vase! Allow the plants to mature and begin forming flowers/seed heads, otherwise they will wilt. Harvest in the cool of the day.
If you have any of these shrubs in your landscaping, they are great for foliage… and even their spring blooming flowers look beautiful!
Sweet Annie (Artemisia)
This herb has a delightful sweet scent. The lacy foliage develops tiny yellow flowers later in the season. Can be dried for herbal wreaths.
What foliage to use in bouquets? ›
Whether for larger venue decorations, or homegrown bouquets, try hazel in spring, oak in the summer months, delicate birch and beautiful shining beech in early autumn. Traditional holly and ivy are great in winter, and mature ivy also features gorgeous plump berries.How much should you mark up your flowers and foliage? ›
Flower & Foliage Markup:
For flowers and foliage, the most commonly used markup is 350% times your wholesale cost per stem. When using a full bunch you would use the same formula and charge 350% times the wholesale cost of the bunch.
The difference between foliage and filler for cut flowers is that foliage refers mainly to plants that add greenery and texture, such as eucalyptus, sage, dusty miller, and bupleurum. Filler refers to small flowers that provide color, volume, and structure, such as statice, celosia, and scabiosa.What is the purpose of foliage in an arrangement? ›
Foliage is important for creating structure in an arrangement and building a canvas to make focal flowers truly stand out. Like flowers, greenery can define a bouquet's shape, add texture and color, and create balance.Is foliage cheaper than flowers? ›
Greenery like ferns, myrtle, and eucalyptus are significantly cheaper than flowers.
Fresh greenery will last indoors for about two weeks, and longer outdoors in cold climates. Display greenery out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources; mist with water daily to help the cuttings last.How do you make cut foliage last longer? ›
- Recut stems at an angle and change water every 2 days. ...
- Prune Low-Lying Leaves to Prevent Bacteria Growth. ...
- Keep Out of Direct Sunlight. ...
- Do Not Refrigerate. ...
- Heavy Drinking Flowers May Need Water Replenished More Frequently. ...
- Remove Dead/Dying Flowers.
Apple mint is the best annual mint for cut flower use. It can be invasive, so grow it in a container or raised bed and be sure to cut often. The stems are not very long, but the fresh scent and bright green leaves are a gorgeous complement to so many of spring's sweet pastels and summer's vivid colors.What does foliage stand for? ›
1 : a representation of leaves, flowers, and branches for architectural ornamentation 2 : the aggregate of leaves of one or more plants 3 : a cluster of leaves, flowers, and branches.What are two types of foliage? ›
The two basic types of leaves are simple and compound.
Why is it called foliage? ›
“Foliage” is just a fancy term meaning plant, or leaves from a tree. We refer to the term “Fall Foliage” when referencing the changing of the leaves on the trees.How do you make a bouquet look expensive? ›
- Choose Long-Lasting Varieties. ...
- Select a Mix of Colored and Neutral Flowers. ...
- Vary the Shape of the Flowers. ...
- Don't Forget the Greens. ...
- Grab Some Wrapping Paper. ...
- Prep Your Flowers. ...
- Stagger Your Blooms. ...
- Avoid Common Rookie Mistakes.
The mark-up on your flowers is typically 3 to 4x your wholesale cost. The mark-up on your hard-goods is usually 2 to 2.5x your cost.Do you tip your flower vendor? ›
Your florist puts in so many hours to make your day so special. We generally find that anywhere from $50-$200 depending on your level of service and overall floral budget is acceptable. Generally - 3-5% of the total floral budget is a standard average gratuity.Which state has the prettiest foliage? ›
- Maine. The first stop on our list is Maine. ...
- North Carolina & Tennessee. The second area on our list is in Both North Carolina and Tennessee. ...
- New York. The third state on our list of best places for fall foliage is New York State. ...
- Vermont. ...
- Georgia. ...
- New Mexico. ...
- Arkansas. ...
Aspirin. It's a tried-and-true way to keep roses and other cut flowers fresh longer: Put a crushed aspirin in the water before adding your flowers. Also, don't forget to change the vase water every few days.Why put cut flowers in boiling water? ›
Hot water might be also considered as a means to kill bacteria or unclog the stems of a fresh cut flower to allow greater water absorption and preserve the blooms for longer, Gaumond says, which is where this boiling water tip may have begun growing.What cut flower lasts the longest? ›
Dahlias. Dahlias are exceptionally longest-lasting cut flowers. The buds won't open after they're cut, so wait until they're almost open, or fully open, before snipping.Does vinegar make flowers last longer? ›
Make your own preservative to keep cut flowers fresh longer. Dissolve 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar per quart (liter) of warm water. When you fill the vase, make sure the cut stems are covered by 3-4 inches (7-10 centimeters) of the prepared water.Does baking soda make flowers last longer? ›
Any of the fungicide products (bleach, baking soda, vodka) combined with soda or sugar and some form of acid do a good job of keeping flowers fresh.
Does bleach in water help flowers? ›
Did you know? Adding Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach to flower vase water keeps flowers healthy and last longer! When microorganisms multiply in plain vase water, they block the flower stem and make it hard for the stem to absorb water for nutrients — causing wilt and odors!What is the best smelling garland? ›
Q: Which type of Christmas garland smells best? For the scent of Christmas, look for any garland made with pine, fir, or cedar.What do florists use to keep cut flowers fresh? ›
While the ingredients vary depending on the manufacturer, most contain sugar to feed the flowers, acid to maintain the pH levels of the water, and a bit of bleach to reduce the bacteria and fungi in the vase water. All three help extend the life of the flowers.What is the most popular cut flower to buy? ›
Tulips are the best selling cut flowers in the U.S., with annual sales revenue of $65.3 million, reported by both wholesale and retail businesses.What do florists use to cut flowers? ›
Pruning shears are a type of scissors used for cutting plant stems. Floral designers look to pruners for cutting through tough, woody stems that are not easily cut with knives. A paring knife can be a good substitute for a cut-flower knife, but the blade may be too long and, therefore, difficult to hold and control.What greenery to use in bridal bouquet? ›
Leatherleaf Fern is our favorite choice for a volume greenery that fills space quickly and efficiently. Plumosa Fern is a nice option for a feathery-feel with wispy green ends. Tree Fern is also great for a whimsical wedding! They also add a lot of texture and depth to arrangements.Which is commonly used as cut foliage? ›
Eucalyptus One of the most popular of the cut foliages demanded all year round.What is the most affordable wedding greenery? ›
Leather Leaf Fern or Eucalyptus Greens – Greenery is the most cost-effective option for adding that hint of foliage into your floral arrangements. Leather leaf fern typically has 12 stems per bunch and pairs exceptionally well with roses and baby's breath. Add to bouquets, centerpieces, and corsage designs.How do florists keep wedding bouquets fresh? ›
Hot water will dehydrate your flowers, and cold water will shock and wither your blooms. Instead, use warm water. Flowers are able to easily absorb warm water, which helps them retain their form. The temperature of the water can enhance your flowers' longevity.What is the most popular cut flower? ›
Roses are the classic cut flower, with more than 100 million sold each year.
How do you dry leaves in 2 days? ›
Place leaves in a shallow container or tie them in bunches. Expose to direct sunlight for a few days, checking every day or two to see whether they're dry. The sunlight will dry out the leaves, but the edges may curl. This makes them hard to use in some craft projects, but works well for dried flower arrangements.Do you wash leaves before drying? ›
Should you wash your herbs before drying? Some people prefer not to wash their herbs before drying because that could add moisture and cause spoilage. Others definitely wash to remove soil and other debris. I will only wash herbs that I plan to use for cooking.Which dried flowers last the longest? ›
Some of the best and longest-lasting dried flowers include baby's breath, lavender, hydrangea, roses and poppies.