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Some Unusual Floral Materials

Floral design is not a static art. Novel materials are added to the palette every single year. So when you’re looking for something that is just a little different, you can always find something of interest.

Berried stems of hypericum were originally introduced as a novelty. In recent years, they have caught on in a big way. Thanks to plant breeders, these are available in numerous shades of red from scarlet and rose-red to mahogany red. These long lasting stems have attractive shiny foliage that adds to their beauty.

The kangaroo paw or Angiogozanthus seems to be somewhat seasonal. These were originally native to Australia, and are now grown as cut flowers and potted plants in certain regions of the U.S. These plants are grown for the colorful, exotic looking bracts. They come in various colors, including yellows and oranges as well as reds and pinks. The cut stems tend to be very long lasting. They are generally used for accent.

Another plant from Australia has also been introduced as a floral. Microsorium corcodyllus has very striking, richly textured foliage that remotely looks like the skin of a crocodile. In floral design, it can be used as a green both for its color and the quilted look. The stems are quite long, up to six feet. This plant was introduced to the U.S. in 2004 and was chosen as the Favorite New Foliage Plant at the Tropical Plant Industry Exposition in Florida.

One of the newer anthuriums is a sight to behold. Moments Anthurium is a creamy white with a touch of intriguing solid green at the very tip of the spadix. These stems have a long vase life of over three weeks.

Those with vegetable gardens may grow cardoon for edible purposes. But the leaves make a wonderful green. In 2005, Johnny’s Selected Seeds released Porto Spineless cardoon that was especially bred for floral design purposes. The large, finely cut, fern-like foliage is silver-green. Blooming the second year, the flowers are also used in arrangements.

Sometimes when we are looking for new ideas, it pays to see what people in other countries are doing. Dyed flowers have been around for several decades. We often see stems of dried florals in crafts stores that have been tinted. At times, some of these seem too artificial. However, I’ve seen some really fine examples of stems with exquisitely colored leaves from China that are perfectly suited to floral design. They bleach the original color from the foliage, and inject a dye. The result is a feathery, subtle look.


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